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When Less Is More

A friend of mine told me that 4 quarters is the same as a dollar until you need to pay the parking meter. His analogy reminded me of a customer who is happily using a couple of our smaller mobile storage units rather than the more common, much larger PODS brand (one POD is about the same amount of storage as 3 of our units).

Two interior decorators married and were consolidating into one house. Each had beautiful furniture and after she sold her home, w
e delivered her 4 units to load all of her belongings into. The couple packed all of her things into the FlexBoxes and then we redelivered them to his house which they were now sharing. They kept the units onsite for a month and a half as they rearranged and decided upon which items they were going to keep and which ones they would eventually sell. Ultimately, they packed everything that had to be sold into storage units after taking some pictures of all the pieces to list them on eBay.

Slowly but surely they sold their pieces and as their storage needs changed, they reduced the amount of storage they were renting with ease. They would stop by weekly to pick up the pieces that they sold (mostly to local dealers and antique shops) and have consolidated down to one box. Instead of repacking all of their things and moving to a smaller space, or paying for storage that they were not using, they simply emptied the units one at a time and avoided all of the hassles. I'm constantly amazing the new and creative ways customers use our boxes!

Take Care and Protect Your Valuables!

I run a mobile storage company and once in a while I get to see what customers are storing in their units.  I've seen everything, from the hilarious to the tragic. Often, people are willing to pay to store their belongings and keepsakes, but don't take the time or effort to properly protect or pack their belongings. Moisture is usually the biggest contributor to damage, but there are ways to combat its ill effects. Here are several tips to keep your valuables safe:

  • Appliances: A refrigerator or freezer should be thoroughly dry and stored with its door slightly ajar. Some items can be stored inside large appliances. Cartons can be stacked on top of stoves, refrigerators and freezers. Make sure that a stove and all other cooking equipment is cleaned before they are stored.
  • Bicycles and other metal items: To prevent rust, wipe all metal surfaces with a rag containing a few drops of machine oil. One of the best features of wooden, containerized storage units (mobile storage) are that they are covered and weather proof when outside.  When the storage units are returned to the warehouse, the wood “breathes” so moisture can escape from the unit.
  • Books and documents: Pack books flat to protect their spines. Do not place boxes directly on the floor. Use pallets or skids to prevent moisture damage. Use packing to fill out empty pockets in cartons or boxes. Do not pack fragile items in the same carton with books. Do not overload.
  • Bedding, Clothing, Curtains, Drapes and Linen: Clothing, curtains and drapes should be stored on hangers. If hanging facilities are not available, such items should be carefully folded and stored in dresser drawers or cedar chests along with bedding and linen. Some facilities sell wardrobe style, cardboard cartons that help protect your clothes. Food crumbs or stains should be removed before storage. Avoid storing anything that will attract rodents.
  • Dishes and Glassware: Place a layer of packing inside the bottom and top of the cartons containing glassware. Label all cartons. All glass items should be individually wrapped. Nest cups and bowls and stand all plates, saucers and platters on edge. Wrapped glasses should be placed toward the top of the carton.
  • Furniture: Place a pallet, cardboard mat, or plastic sheet on the floor and stand sofas and mattresses on end. Disassemble beds and tables and wrap the legs in paper. If a table will not disassemble, place padding on the floor and place the table on its top with the legs pointing up. Use dresser tops for stacking cartons and dresser drawers for linens or small, delicate items. Keep upholstery off the floor. Most lightweight chairs should be stacked "seat to seat" or placed upside down on tables that cannot be disassembled. Place a light dust cover over your furniture.
  • Holiday Decorations: Always try and save the original packaging that contained delicate ornaments and further pad them with packing paper or newspaper. Wrap strings of lights around a piece of cardboard before placing in a carton lined with packing paper.
  • Lamps: Wrap large lamp bases in padding. Wrap smaller lamps and place them in cartons. Pack delicate lampshades separately. Do not use newsprint to wrap lamps shades or any other goods that may be damaged by ink stains. Do not store heavy items atop cartons containing lamps or lampshades.
  • Mirrors, Windows and Screens: These items should be stored on their edge, not flat.
  • Records and Phonographs: Records should be stored on edge to prevent warping. When moving a record player, the tone arm and turntable should be secured to prevent bounding.
  • Tools: Metal tools should be cleaned and wiped with a rag containing a few drops of machine oil to prevent rust. Long-handled tools such as rakes, shovels and hoes should be clean, lightly oiled and tied in bundles.
    A little care and preparation when loading your belongings into long-term storage can go a long way to protect your valuables. Happy storing!

A FlexBox Is Made Of Wood!

And it should be! The whole point of storage is to protect your belongings and mobile containers, specifically ones made from wood, have advantages that containers made from other materials don’t possess.  Here are a few reasons why a wooden Flexbox unit should be your storage option of choice:    * Wood breathes which helps protect items inside from changes in temperature and humidity. Rising humidity can create condensation inside storage containers made from different materials such as metal. Condensation can lead to water damage to stored belongings.

  • Weatherproof covers protect your valuables from rain, wind and snow while giving you easy access to you all of your belongings. Flexbox units sit on pressure treated "feet" to protect against ground water seeping up through the bottom of the unit while still allowing for ground level loading.
  • Wood is a great building material and easily modified. You can easily add or move tie downs in a wooden unit so that you're items are secure and safe in transit.
    Mobile storage saves a lot of time and effort, but it's important to remember that it, first and foremost, should protect your belongings. With that said, wood is good! Happy storing!

Storage For The Season

Autumn is returning to Philly and I can feel the change in people’s attitudes just as much as that of the weather.  Everyone is battening down the hatches, cleaning up before winter sets in and looking for a place to store their stuff.   Here are a few ideas to make winter simpler and clutter- free:    * Clear out seasonal tools: Prep your lawnmower and weedwacker for its annual hibernation and store it away for the winter months. No sense in tripping over hedge clippers until you need them again in the spring. Your garage and storage space will be nice and clean with easy access to your snow blower and shovels.

  • Exchange decorations: Swap Easter and Halloween items for your Christmas and holiday lights. Yard displays and lights have gotten bigger and better, but they take up more space in the off-season. Rotating them in a storage unit can free up a lot more space in your home or garage.
  • Clean out your closets: Put away bathing suits and short sleeve shirts and replace them with sweaters and jackets. Closet space is always at a premium and it's silly to crowd the clothes you need with summer dresses and sandals that you won't wear for months.
  • A little effort now can make your house feel bigger and more livable all winter. I'm a believer in the convenience and ease of mobile storage and we have lots of customers rotate their belongings every spring and fall. Get organized now and have a great fall and winter!

Storage Tip: Baby Your Breakables

Avoid telling horror stories at your next cocktail party and carefully pack your breakables when storing or moving. Pictures, mirrors, electronics and china all have special packing needs that are easily done with the right supplies and a little care.   

  • Pictures and Mirrors: Wrap pictures that are small and stand them on end in boxes. For larger ones, buy special picture moving boxes. Use foam or bubble wrap to further pad them. It’s ultimately cheaper when compared with reframing, damaged art, or a new pane of glass.
  • Crystal, China, and Fine glassware: Buy boxes specially designed for these items with built in dividers. Pad and wrap each item with newspaper or foam. Label boxes with glass items and stack these on top. Always add packing material to both the bottom and the top of the moving boxes.
  • Electronic Equipment: Use the original boxes. If you no longer have them, pack these items carefully and use cushion material. Bubble wrap, cushion foam, and even wadded up newspaper will help. Pack items separately. Tie down tone arms for record players. Stack record albums on end to prevent warping and use small boxes to alleviate their weight. Consider the temperature as heat can warp CDs and record albums.
    Most importantly, make sure everyone handling your belongings does so with care. You can take your time packing the smaller, fragile items and get some help with the heavy stuff! Happy storing!

Storage Tip: Save Your Furniture From Unnecessary Damage!

Would you store your furniture if you knew that when you got it back it might destroyed or useless?  Probably not.   It’s painful to pay for storage only to find that your dining room table is now ruined from dry rot or overrun with mold and mildew. Here are several tips to help you avoid the expense and trouble and keep your belongings in tip-top shape:

  • Consider using climate-controlled self-storage: Depending on your locale, wild temperature swings can damage wood furniture. Many of the glues in furniture construction are organic and can breakdown in high or low temperatures causing the joints fail.
  • Disassemble bed frames and tie them together. Use plastic bags to store screws and bolts and tape them to the items that they belong to.
  • When you stack furniture, use blankets and pads to protect them from scratching.
  • Moisture is a particular concern. Do not use plastic to cover items, especially in non-climate controlled units, as moisture can condense under the cover itself. Consider using sheets or cotton cloth. If you're using mobile storage, make sure the unit is built out of wood.  Wood “breathes” and won't trap moisture like metal units or cause rust stains.  All Flexbox units are constructed of wood.
  • Stand mattresses on their ends with pallets or cardboard underneath. Wrap mattresses in mattress bags or cover them with paper or cloth. This allows air to circulate and prevents moisture problems.Furniture has special needs. You may find free storage in a friend or family member's cellar, but there are hazards if you ignore the conditions that can wreak havoc on your valued furniture. Happy storing!

Many Choices In Portable Storage

The portable storage industry has seen incredible growth in recent years. As PODS have become more popular, other brands and options have emerged giving real estate professional and consumers much more choice and flexibility when considering their options. Most brands offer a similar concept; the company delivers storage units to the customer's home so they can easily load them without needing a rental truck or having to pack and unpack twice as with a traditional storage facility.  The units are then transported to a customer's new residence or into a storage facility. The concept is great, but the differences in containers differentiate between the brands and can make different boxes better for different applications. Here is comparison:

  • PODS are the market leader and the most recognizable brand. Their product is great, but sometimes limited by their size. Their most common unit is 8’ by 16’, but must be loaded directly from a truck limiting where they can be delivered. Customers must rent the entire unit making it an expensive option when less space is required. PackRat offers very similar units.
  • Mobile Attic and Mobile Mini offer a variety of sizes from 8' by 8' to 8' by 20'. It’s very nice to have a choice; but I would be nervous about their delivery mechanism. The units come on a roll off flatbed truck which requires each unit to be tilted like a car or dumpster which could cause significant damage to the valuables stored inside.
  • There is a third choice that Flexbox offers that I think combines the best of both worlds. Each Flexbox is a 5' by 8' wooden container that can hold about a room to room and a half of furniture. We chose this size because it can accommodate large household items including couches, dining room tables, refrigerators and appliances, yet gives customers the flexibility to choose the amount of storage they need. The smaller containers also allow you to pack your belongings more securely than the larger containers and provide better access- after all, you can't pack your checkbook behind 16' of furniture.
  • Best of luck and happy storing!

Storage Tip: Take Special Care With Your Lawn Mover and Snowblower

People use storage for a multitude of reasons. I just helped a landscaping contractor move from Chicago to Philadelphia with 3 large lawn tractors, a bunch of weedwackers and motorized yard equipment. This experience reminded me of all the special precautions you need to consider when storing or moving these items.

Most importantly, drain the gasoline. Gasoline is volatile and degrades over time. If you leave gas in the tank of your lawnmower over the winter, it becomes gummy and can cause damage to the engine when you try and start it again in the spring. This also eliminates a flammable material from inside your storage unit that is an obvious danger. Storage units are not well ventilated and if your unit is not climate controlled, flammable material can be an immediate fire hazard. Draining the gas is easy.  Simply disconnect the gas line running from the tank to engine, pour into a gas can and when empty, run the mower/blower until it is dry. Most gas stations will take back the gas and recycle it properly.

Clean your mower and wrap it in cloth material. To prevent rust and corrosion, you’ll want to avoid moisture traps. Old grass clippings will decompose, releasing water in the process, and wrapping your mower with a plastic tarp will trap this moisture inviting rust problems.

Lastly, seasonal items are very conveniently stored in portable storage units. I have a customer who has her storage unit delivered every spring and fall as she rotates her lawn mover/summer wardrobe/outdoor furniture with her snowblower/Christmas decorations/winter coats.

"Winterizing" and storing your equipment is easy. These simple steps will help your equipment run well next season and make for happy mowing/blowing. Best of luck!

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