Friday, June 24, 2005

Too Much Stuff

This week, I came across a haunting article in the Wall Street Journal about the self storage industry. It seems that "whatever the strains and shortcomings of the U.S. economy, we Americans have a whole lot more stuff than we used to. How much? So much that there is enough space in rentable self-storage lockers in the U.S. for each man, woman and child to stand on a spot 2½ feet by 2½ feet, with room left over. The U.S. has 1.875 billion square feet of self-storage space, according to the Self Storage Association.:

I did some quick math, and found out that this is 43,044 acres of land, or 67 square miles. This is horrendous!

Now, to be clear, about 40% of self storage space is occupied by businesses, but this still leaves all of us a square of 1.875' x 1.875' to stand in, or 40 square miles of self storage space. Again, from the Journal:

"....most folks who rent storage space use it to store furniture, kitchenware, clothing, photos and paintings, holiday and seasonal items, books and magazines, towels and linens, the trade association's survey found. About 9% said they store food in them. (Maybe that's what happens when you buy too much at Costco or Sam's Club.) And it isn't just rich folks who have an abundance of belongings: A third of the units are rented by people with incomes under $30,000 a year."

Now really. Something about this is very bizzare to me; and makes me think about this. Now of course, I actually have a storage unit - because the attorney's are in charge of our lives, and I have to keep all my business records for five years. But we don't have a personal storage unit, as my wife and I have decided that if we ever need one, we simply have too much "stuff", and need to give it away to those less fortunate.

But this quote, was to me the scariest of the whole article:

"Forget about two- or three-car garages and finished basements -- today that's just not enough space for U.S. households overflowing with excess furniture, camping gear, sporting equipment," Joseph Quinlan, chief stock-market strategist for Bank of America Corp., said in a note to clients the other day. He even suggested that the ability to put all that stuff in storage units is a "critical prop to global growth" because consumers will keep spending only as long as they have a place to put their purchases. "If U.S. consumers run out of storage space," he quipped, "the global economy is doomed."

Can you hear the creepy science-fiction music in the background. What kind of a society have we created?

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