Mini Storage or Self-Storage? What’s the Difference?

If you’ve been looking to rent a storage unit, whether online or out in your community, you’ve likely noticed facilities dubbed either “Self-Storage” or “Mini Storage.” And you’ve likely wondered what’s the difference between mini storage and self-storage, anyway?

We wondered that, too. Turns out, there isn’t really a difference. Mini storage and self-storage are interchangeable terms, self-storage being the more commonly used term within the industry today.

Self-storage is short for self-service storage. The concept (as we know it today), was invented in Texas in the 1960’s by Russ Williams and his stepson, Bob Munn. Williams and Munn opened “A1 U-Store-It U-Lock-It U-Carry-the-Key,” a facility constructed of cinder blocks and corrugated steel with a wooden overhead door, marketing it to oil companies as a place where they could store barrels and supplies.

The “mini warehouse” idea took off. In 1972, large national storage chains entered the market to capitalize on the demand for self-service storage, and many smaller independent facilities sprang up across the country, creating the self-storage industry we are familiar with today.

What’s the Difference for You?

While self-storage and mini storage are recognized by the industry as meaning the same thing, there could be some physical differences between the facilities you are considering.

If you see Mini Storage in the facility name, this could simply mean that the facility has been around since the mini warehouse boom of the 60s and 70s. The size of the facility itself, number of units, or size of the parking lot are all factors that can also contribute to a “mini” designation.

However, when it comes to unit sizes, Mini Storage is not necessarily a good indicator of what a facility has to offer. With consumer storage needs changing decade after decade, storage facility design has changed to match. While new constructions are built to best suit the property they sit on and the community they serve, older facilities are often retrofitted by new owners to offer more unit sizes within the same space.

This means that one mini storage facility might have some of the smallest units available – like a 5×5 – the mini storage place across town might not rent units smaller than 20×40 (a great size for a true “mini warehouse”).

Consider Your Needs

While an internet search for “self-storage” may yield a greater variety of results, it’s better to focus on the size of the unit and your storage needs when looking for a storage unit.

Looking to store a vehicle? Whether the facility has a space that can accommodate a car or truck, and the rules for vehicle storage will vary from facility to facility. Is it a pristine collector car or a project with some loose parts that need to be kept safe with it? A climate-controlled unit may be what you’re looking for.

If you’re just looking to get some odds and ends out of your living space and out of your way, a storage locker might be just the right size. Storage lockers typically come in small sizes like 5×5 or 5×4, stacked two units high. These small units are perfect for storing seasonal decorations, off-season clothing, or anything else you may not need to have at home all of the time.

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