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How to Help Self-Storage Customers Protect Valued Collectibles

By Jamie Outhwaite Comments
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Self-storage customers enjoy all types of hobbies, including the accumulation of collectibles. Collectors find an enormous variety of goods attractive, from sports memorabilia and trading cards to stamps and coins. Many of these items find their way into storage units and, if not cared for properly, could be at risk for damage and losing market value.

Two of the most popular categories are comic books and vinyl records. Both are representative of changes in society and act as time capsules of styles and preferences for specific generations. The monetary value of rare items can make them excellent investments. For example, Action Comics No. 1, which introduced the world to Superman, sold at auction in 2014 for $3.2 million. Similarly, an original version of the self-titled album “The Beatles,” best known as the “White Album” sold in December 2015 for $790,000.

While these are extreme examples, the value of any collectible fluctuates with desirability and condition. The best preserved rare items have the potential to deliver exceptional return on investment, but anyone who is an avid collector of anything sees intrinsic value in the items he buys and keeps. Many collectors are also emotionally attached to their items, and their passion for accumulation can make home storage a challenge.

Running out of room to display or store collectibles at home can put items at risk for damage from water leaks, mold and even casual handling by those not aware of their value. Many collectors turn to self-storage to keep excess items safe and protected from adverse conditions and casual damage.

When advising customers on storing collectibles, it’s essential to convey that their unit should be chosen with care. If they value the items tapped for storage and want to preserve their condition, the only suitable unit is one that’s climate-controlled. Even then, there are some common-sense precautions that should be taken to ensure items remain pristine.

Where comic books are concerned, light and heat should be avoided, as either can cause ink to fade, especially on older editions. Care should be taken in selecting lighting sources inside the unit. For our facilities, we consulted a neighborhood comic store and now sell acid-free storage boxes as a value-added retail item for customers. In addition, each comic book should be placed in its own polypropylene bag with an acid-free backing for protection when handled. Though serious collectors likely have already taken this step, asking the right questions and demonstrating knowledge of proper preservation techniques demonstrates concern for your customers and their valued property.

Similar care should be taken to protect vinyl records from direct heat and light sources. The covers of rare albums may represent a significant part of their value. Any degradation will have an adverse effect on their worth.

Consulting with customers to determine the best storage solution for their valued possessions can endear you to your tenants and make you the go-to self-storage facility for collectors.

Jamie Outhwaite is general manager for Aabsolute Self Storage, which operates two facilities in Glasgow, Scotland. He has more than 12 years of experience in the industry. He’s also a keen golfer who knows what it’s like to have to store away cherished goods for the winter. To reach him, e-mail jouthwaite@aabsoluteselfstorage.co.uk; visit www.aabsoluteselfstorage.co.uk.

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