Boom in popularity for storage facilities as cramped Hongkongers use them as ‘second home
Originally published at the South China Morning Post on July 8, 2016.
Mini-storage facilities are becoming all the rage in Hong Kong as residents continue to seek space in an increasingly cramped city.
With soaring rental prices and the introduction of government policies encouraging the use of old industrial buildings, businesses for storage facilities have seen a lot of growth in recent years. Safety standards for such facilities are also in the spotlight after a storage space in a Ngau Tau Kok industrial building caught fire last month, claiming the lives of two firefighters.
Business owners say that the majority of people using these facilities are residents who do not have enough space to store their belongings at home.
“We’re almost running out of space. Year-on-year growth has increased,” Target Storage owner
Amy Law said. The company was established in 2008. “The number of people who are opening these companies – it’s just been growing.”
About 80 per cent of their clients use the facilities to store personal belongings, Law said, with the rest using them for commercial reasons, such as storing business documents because doing so is cheaper than keeping them in an office with much higher rent.
Jun Jun Lau, who owns In N Out Storage, said that the company has many affluent clients who store expensive clothing, valuables, furniture shipped in from overseas, golf equipment, bicycles and more. Entrepreneurs – like local designers and creative start-ups – also make up about 30 per cent of their client base, she added.
“Expats do use our storage, but they don’t use it for a long time,” she said. “Locals really do treat our storage facility like their second home.”
According to Carlos Chan, manager of ILoveSpace Warehouse, most of his clients are long-term users who store personal items for multiple years. Short-term users tend to use facilities seasonally – with many storing their belongings in the summer while renovating or moving houses, he said.
Although Chan has heard of some online retailers using storage facilities as an access point for delivering products, he avoids such clients and they represent a small portion of users, he added.
“Demand is definitely there because of the rent. It’s still a growing business,” Chan said. “The market itself hasn’t yet been fully developed. There are still people out there who would like to have extra space but haven’t started using this type of service.”