Storage facility business booming in the region

  • The Blanchette family of Antrim operates Greenfield Self Storage after building it from the ground up. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Blanchette family of Antrim operates Greenfield Self Storage after building it from the ground up. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Blanchette family of Antrim operates Greenfield Self Storage after building it from the ground up. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Blanchette family of Antrim operates Greenfield Self Storage after building it from the ground up. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/8/2021 5:14:28 PM

Storage facilities are a booming business in the region, but unless you’ve needed one at some point, odds are you likely haven’t noticed just how many there are out there.

Add them all up, and in the 16 towns comprising the Ledger-Transcript coverage area there are 11 locations where one could rent a unit of varying size depending on need.

Some have been around since the 1990s, while others have been built and opened in the last few years, recognizing a demand for more storage space.

Dave Blanchette rented a unit for two years after he and his wife Tammie decided to sell their 3,000-square-foot home in Francestown that included a 2,000-square-foot barn, to move into their second property in Antrim that totaled just 1,000 square feet.

“We had to find space for all of it,” Blanchette said.

He quickly saw an opportunity, so four years ago Blanchette began the process of building his own facility that opened two years ago, Greenfield Self Storage.

With a total of 18,000 square feet of storage space, Blanchette has units on the smaller end (5x10 and 10x5) to larger sizes (10x10, 10x15 and 10x20). But check out the Greenfield Self Storage website and it’s clear the demand in the area is high with only one size currently available and the remainder requiring putting your name on a waiting list.

Many people rent units just to store stuff that won’t fit in their homes or apartments, Blanchette said, like those living on Sunset Lake and in Greenfield Commons. People moving into the area have rented units for a month or two, while the average rental is about six months.

“They just need it for a place to keep stuff they don’t use,” Blanchette said.

But units are used for a variety of other reasons as well, he said. People rent them to store cars for either the winter or year round if they don’t have a garage, UPS has used them for three months each of the last two winters around the holidays and local trades people are a big client.

“I have contractors in there that use them every day,” Blanchette said.

Blanchette, who also uses a unit for his plumbing and heating business, said in addition to noticing a business opportunity, it was also a way to create a retirement plan, ando set up his three boys.

“It’s really a family venture,” Blanchette said.

Cyndy and Don Burgess started their storage business in 1996 with three buildings and 90 units on Route 202 in Jaffrey. As the units filled up, they expanded and now have 264 units in Jaffrey. Twenty years ago, the Burgesses purchased the facility on Route 202 in Peterborough and have since added six buildings to give them 330 units.

Self Storage of Jaffrey & Peterborough has been a good business, Cyndy Burgess said, and it came at the advice of a repair man fixing the copy machine at their equipment rental business in Jaffrey who noticed they had the perfect property for it.

“It was nothing we had ever thought of,” Burgess said. Maybe the odd-shaped piece of land would be a good spot for a facility and they wouldn’t have to worry about electricity or water, she thought. Turns out, that was right.

Burgess said they are 96% full in Jaffrey and 97% in Peterborough.

“When you get to 88-90%, they consider that full in the industry,” she said. And if there is an opening, “by that afternoon we can have it rented,” she said.

Having been in the business for 25 years, Burgess has heard all kinds of stories.

“People are very open about why they’re doing it,” she said. “It’s a fascinating business.”

When people first rent a unit, Burgess is skeptical when someone only plans a short stay.

“We always chuckle when someone says they only need one for a month or two,” she said. “Actually we have people that had units in Peterborough before we even purchased the facility.”

She’s seen people rent a unit and not come back once in the first year. And why people need to store their things is always different. Some use as a warehouse for their business, other store cars and some use it while they winter in a warmer client. Some have even tried to live in their units, which is not allowed.

“There’s all kind of reason that people use these facilities,” Burgess said, adding that people moving into the area or downsizing are in a spot where they need a place to put their things.

Some units have gone up for auction, with one containing an urn they were never able to locate a person to claim. State guidelines, Burgess said, require a grace period of 45 days for a late payment before it can go to auction, although Burgess said they always try to work with people. Anything valued at $500 or less can just be cleaned out, anything more must be auctioned off.

“We’d rather people have it then us having to get rid of it,” she said.

Mike Lamarre, owner of Hillside Self Storage in Greenville, opened his 160-unit facility a little over a year ago and is approaching 75 percent full.

“We’re pretty on track in terms of capacity,” he said.

Lamarre said he decided to embark on the project more than two years ago because his sister was having a problem finding a unit close enough to her home in Mason.

“That kind of prompted me to look a little further,” Lamarre said. What he discovered there weren’t a ton of options in that area of the region at the time and thus decided to look into properties to build his own.

He said in the first year there was about a 10 percent turnover but for the most part renters have been steady in staying long term. Lamarre said the larger units are the most popular as he’s found that people moving or having sold their home and downsizing need a place to store belongings. But the small ones have been sought after for those living in apartments.

“People just have excess that they need space for,” he said.

Antrim Self Storage has 121 units and all of them are full and have been for some time, resulting in a wait list. A representative of the facility said there is not a lot of turnover, as so many people think they’re moving in for a month and stay for years.


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