Self-storage facilities originally were intended to be short-term solutions for people who were planning to sell goods or move them into a bigger house. But for many Americans, self-storage now is a “leave it and forget it” solution–they store stuff that won’t fit into their homes and frequently leave it in storage for long periods.
This simply means that in some cases, clutter is being moved from one location to another—from the home to the self-storage unit.
Brian Thomas, founder of Los Angeles-based startup Clutter Inc., realized that self-storage units on their own weren’t helping Americans solve their clutter problem, so he put his mind to creating an alternative.
“I’ve used self-storage for years, but I would let things sit and collect dust simply because I didn’t want to drive to the facility,” Thomas said. “I wanted a convenient way to store things outside of the house.”
How It Works
Thomas’ company helps people clear clutter from their homes—but more importantly, it helps them keep track of those items so that they can easily identify and retrieve them at any point.
The service delivers storage boxes to people’s homes, which they can pack at their convenience. They then can use Clutter’s smartphone app to photograph and document all of the items within each box. When the boxes are ready, Clutter retrieves them and stores them at its facility, at a rate of $10 a box per month. Customers then can use the app to request the return of any of the boxes by touching the “bring me my boxes” button, for a $15 flat fee.
Clutter, which launched in August, is operating only in the Los Angeles metro area for now and uses its own storage facility to keep customers’ boxes. “We want to own the entire process,” Thomas said. The service offers pickup and delivery within a 15-mile radius of the Los Angeles metro area.
“We definitely want to expand into other cities and other markets, but we’ll hammer out the business here in Los Angeles first while we ramp up,” Thomas said.
Does It Help?
This service, and others like it, makes it more convenient for people to store their items outside the house. But does it truly solve the clutter problem?
“In the sense that they help people get stuff out of their homes, they’re making it easier for them to clear clutter,” Adams said. “But if the clutter is just being moved to a space that people are paying rent on, I don’t know that they’re actually making things easier.”
Adams recommends that before renting a self-storage unit or using a pickup-and-delivery service like Clutter, you first should take a close look at your possessions. Then, she said, you should decide whether you have a genuine use for the items or whether they should just be sold or trashed.
However, some situations may warrant a self-storage unit, according to Adams. They include:
- You’re doing a major home renovation and need to remove furniture and possessions temporarily.
- You’re temporarily renting a small space but plan to move to a larger space soon.
- You’re temporarily moving abroad.
- You’ve inherited items from a loved one and don’t have the time or energy to decide what to keep or sell yet.
In situations like these, it can be helpful to use a self-storage unit or a service like Clutter.
“It seems to me that the big benefit is the app allows people to identify in which bin items are stored,” Adams said. “And, of course, having the items brought to them, rather than their having to go to a storage unit, would be very appealing to some customers.”
Whatever the situation, take stock of your items before putting anything into storage, and when in doubt, throw it out or sell it.