The Rise of Plastic Storage Companies, and What It Means for Movers


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You don’t have to be an industry insider to know that the self-storage industry is booming. Drive around Anytown, USA and it’s almost impossible not to notice those orange-and-gray, or orange-and-purple, or green-and-white facilities popping up all over the place. Even if you round down SpareFoot’s numbers from 2016, the country is currently at over 50,000 self-storage facilities generating over $30 billion in annual revenue.

Crazy numbers, for sure. And guess what? Things are only just beginning to get interesting. We’re seeing the emergence of a lot of small (for now) companies offering services beyond typical self-storage – services that were virtually unheard just a few years ago.

MakeSpace and Clutter Surge

Consider MakeSpace, a New York City outfit that has raised $47.5 million in venture capital in just the last two years. Not your average self-storage provider, MakeSpace packs, picks up their customers’ excess belongings and brings it all to their storage facility. Customers don’t need to think about how much storage space they need because they don’t actually have to rent storage units. They don’t have to worry about getting their stuff moved to a certain place and time because MakeSpace does all the back-and-forth for you. And since their storage facilities are located in what TechCrunch describes as “less desirable areas” outside prime real estate locations that are fairly removed from the residential areas they serve, MakeSpace can rent space at a lower cost, thereby reducing operating expenses.

Besides New York, MakeSpace operates in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., serving tens of thousands of customers, that according to CEO Sam Rosen.

Meanwhile, Clutter of Culver City, CA, operating on a similar business model, has expanded beyond Los Angeles to serve San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, and states New York and New Jersey. As of June 2017, they have raised $96.5 million in venture capital – double that of MakeSpace. According to Forbes, they plan to infiltrate every major city in America and several more abroad.

Millions in capital, global plans … there must be a lot more people out there with a lot of stuff willing to pay extra for this ultra-convenient, self-storage service.

The Rise of Plastic Bins

Of course, not everyone is looking for self-storage. Some people just need to get their stuff from Point A to Point B. Unsurprisingly, the range of services for these people has exploded too, starting with the U-Haul revolution and the rise of ABF Freight, followed by the portable storage container craze and – ahem – the wild growth of the moving labor sector.

It turns out this is the one place eco-conscious people choose plastic over paper.

Yes, we’re seeing now that people want to be green as much as they want to save green – and we see that customers are looking for even more alternatives when they move. And one of those alternatives involves cutting back on all that cardboard and tape.

Enter the gorillas and the kangaroos.

Since 2011, Gorilla Bins of New York City has been renting out black plastic bins two weeks at a time. (They know it takes a lot more than a day to pack and unpack!) And they aren’t the only ones touting the three-point “We drop them off – You use them – We pick them up” service line, inspiring plenty of imitators. Redi-Box is ready with their red bins in Chicago and Portland. Rent a Green Box covers Los Angeles and Orange Counties with their (of course) green plastic bins. Hopping around the Springfield, MO area we have Roo Rent a Box and their stacks of gray bins.

There are many players in this plastic bin rental game. Their prices and policies may vary, but they all operate on the same fundamental idea. (Really, the biggest question right now might be who will end up buying out who down the road.)

Also of note, a company named Bin-It is running a similar operation out of their northern New Jersey headquarters, serving not only the New York area but Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Nashville. Yet unlike the gorillas and kangaroos, Bin-It also offers storage, bridging the service gap between valet storage and simple moving bin rental.

It probably goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that this plastic bin rental business is a local thing. It’s conceivable that in the future we’ll see this change as some of these bin-renters extend their reach further across the country and can handle the logistics of tracking and managing their bins in the same way U-Haul manages their trucks.

For now, despite the impressive growth of this eco-friendly niche, it looks like the trend of renting plastic bins instead of using cardboard boxes will remain an aspect of the local move market.

How Does This Impact Movers?

So what does this have to do with all of us in the moving labor industry?  

It surprisingly doesn’t, directly. But say someone calls you up asking if you offer storage services. “No,” you say. But your conversation shouldn’t end there. This person needs a service and seems not sure where to turn. By pointing them in the right direction, you are not only helping them, you’re also tossing a biscuit of friendship to the people you are referring them to. “Tell them Kevin at HireAHelper sent you,” you might say. Or Mark at Mark’s Movers, or whatever the case may be.

You recommend them, they recommend you, and everybody gets a business boost. This dynamic works especially as long as storage bin companies exist as a local enterprise.

The same dynamic can work with the valet storage niche, as well as the emerging plastic moving bin rental market. These companies are directly tied to the storage and moving industry, just like us. Yet they occupy a different niche. So rather than competing, our services are almost always perfectly complementary.

Likewise, those customers looking for that environmentally-friendly alternative to cardboard boxes are potential customers too. The bin-renters generally don’t offer actual moving services, so the door is wide open.

At the same time, be aware that a few other valet storage providers and bin renters have had the same brilliant idea, and have begun creating those collaborative partnerships with a few local movers. So don’t wait! Get online, get on the horn, pick up the phone and get out there! Meet these new players in the storage and moving industry. There may never be a better ally, or imposing competition, depending who gets there first.

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The Movers Who Hire the Homeless


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It was only my second day as a mover when I was sent on a pack job. I was with two other guys. They’d been with the company a while, so it seemed totally natural when one asked me to label his carton of picture frames for him.

“Here, just use my marker,” I said, holding it out for him.

He just stared at it.

“He doesn’t label boxes,” the other guy said.

What he meant was, he couldn’t label boxes. My fellow packer was functionally illiterate.

But boy, could he pack a house.


Top 10 Things to Ask Your Self-Storage Facility Before Leasing


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Top 10 Things to Ask Your Self-Storage Facility Before Leasing

You know what type and size storage unit you need, and you’ve found a self-storage facility at a great location that has just what you want. Time to make a reservation, right? Maybe!

Ask some important questions first. Storage managers are great resources. And remember, nothing beats seeing the storage facility with your own eyes! If you can, take a tour before you lease. (more…)

Tips for a Moving Container Move


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Tips for a Moving Container MoveAbout a year ago, my husband and I packed up all of our belongings and moved from St. Louis to our current apartment in Chicago.  We rented a PODS container and we used HireAHelper for the “muscle” portion of our move. I’m not saying it was a good time, because is moving ever really fun? But it actually wasn’t too incredibly painful, and we both lived to tell the tale. In fact, we detailed our moving escapade right here on the HireAHelper blog. (more…)

How to Survive Temporary Housing


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Picture this. Your lease is up on your apartment, and you’re getting the boot next month. But, you have no idea where you’re going to live next and want to spend some time finding the perfect new home. So you turn to your friends, your family, or even a local hotel for a place to stay during this “in-between homes” time. This does sound like a stressful scenario, but it is also a very common situation for many people. We totally get it…you don’t want to rush into a new lease without checking out all of your options, so now you’re stuck in limbo.

This transitional period can be really tough on a mover. It’s one thing to move all of your stuff from your current home to your next home, but what do you do when you’re stuck in moving purgatory? We don’t have all of the answers, but we do want to make things a teeny tiny bit easier on you. So here are our tips on how to survive temporary housing.How to Survive Temporary Housing

Moving 101 (more…)

Real People: How StoragePost Served Us And Our Community


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Photo of Caroline CasettiThis is a true story, written by 30-something wife and mom, Caroline Casetti of Atlanta, GA. It is the newest post in our Real People series. Enjoy!

How Self-Storage Can Impact Your Life and the Community

I began the process of relocating from Texas to Decatur, Georgia with my husband last year. Attempting to pack the many items that we owned, I realized that I had two options – sell the excess stuff or store it. I went online in search of a storage facility located near our new place and decided to go with StoragePost.

I think it’s important to choose a storage facility where you feel comfortable visiting. The aspects that ultimately influenced my decision were the location, amount of security, and the climate-controlled conditions. If you’re anything like me, you may also be curious to know which companies give a portion of their profits to charity. After searching online, I came across details of the community events that StoragePost takes part in.


How to Avoid Holiday Moving Stress


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by Jenny Zhang, SpareFoot

If you find yourself in the unlucky situation of having to move during the holidays, I’m sorry. On top of buying presents, finishing end of the year responsibilities, and dealing with weird family gatherings, you now have to undergo the super stressful task of moving. Thankfully, one of the first steps you can take is to use an online self-storage finder to put extra furniture away. Here are some more tips on how to reduce holiday moving stress in advance.

Use Online Tools to Plan Ahead

It’s really quite easy nowadays to prepare for most of your moving online (changing utilities, cable, internet, etc), except for the actual move itself. Take advantage of sites and services like HireAHelper, which can save you a lot of time, stress, and money in the search for the right moving labor to load and unload your moving truck.

Keep Children and Pets Occupied

Don’t add stress to your moving day by having to manage your kids or pets as well. Plan ahead to keep them occupied either with a sitter or family member.

Use Your Move as a Tool for De-cluttering

Moving forces you to be realistic about your possessions: do you really want to keep that extra love-seat or wall clock? Since it’s the holiday season, take advantage of people looking for gifts, and consider selling the stuff you don’t want at a garage sale, online, or even donate to charity. You’ll have less to move, and your possessions will end up going to a good home. Alternatively, if you find that you cannot part with some of your belongings, you can always rent a self-storage unit for your stuff until you need it again.

Research Your New Home

Get to know your new location before you actually move. Research the stores, restaurants, and services around your area so that your first few days in the neighborhood will be as seamless as possible.


Photo Credit: Shermeee

Installing a Home Movie Theater


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By John Donegan

The Perfect Home Movie Theater

If you have a houseful of cinephiles, you may want to consider installing a home movie theater. Although it may cost you a pretty penny, a movie theater adds value to your home and can be a lot of fun. While building your home theater room, we recommend using a self-storage finder to find an affordable storage unit for your excess furniture and home renovation materials, and a local mover comparison (like HireAHelper!) tool to find the help you need to get the heavy stuff to the storage.


The ideal space for a home theater is at least 20ft x 13ft and isolated from the rest of your house. When constructing this room, it’s important to keep acoustics in mind.  For the ceiling, you can install a couple layers of fiberglass insulation, which will help contain the sound. In regard to the walls, place acoustic boards over your drywall and then cover these boards with a layer of thin carpeting. If you have windows in the room, cover these with heavy curtains. Lastly, place a thin layer of carpet on the floor; and remember, you definitely don’t want wood or tile flooring in this room.


Although the lights will be off during the films, you may want to have dimmable lights for before and after screenings. Also, for convenience, you can always purchase a remote for the lighting.


If you don’t want to spring for specially made home theater seats, you can bring in reclining chairs or a couch from another part of your home. If you have a large family or just really want to go the extra mile, you can build a second row of seats. If you do decide to build this row, it’s recommended that you make the platform around 12 inches high.


Although you can certainly go the HD TV or LED TV route, it is significantly cheaper to purchase an HD projector; these cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, yield a large screen, and give a unique ambiance. However, keep in mind, if you use a projector, you’ll need to either buy a screen or project directly on to your wall.

Surround Sound

When it comes to sound, a 5.1 surround sound system should be sufficient. This will include five speakers and a sub-woofer and should run anywhere from $300 – $500.


Depending on the type of films your family likes to watch, you may want to adjust the décor accordingly. For example, if you exclusively watch Westerns, perhaps you opt for a rustic look, say, antlers on the wall. If science fiction is your preference, a steampunk aesthetic could work. Regardless of your family’s film genre of choice, curtains flanking both sides of the screen can be a nice touch. Also, some people decide to install popcorn machines, mini bars, and vintage movie posters as well.

John Donegan is a writer at SpareFoot, the online marketplace where you can find and reserve a self-storage unit with comparison shopping tools that show real-time availability and exclusive deals. John lives in Austin, TX and occasionally directs videos for rap artists.

Photo credit: gsloan


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