8 Businesses You Can Run from a Self Storage Facility

Storage Unit business ideas

Are you running your small business from the kitchen or dining room table? Or are you lucky enough to be able to dedicate an entire room — say a study, spare bedroom or home office — to your business operations?

Perhaps it’s the opposite and running your small business from home has taken over the whole house, with paperwork on the sofa, products strewn on the floor and marketing materials lying on every ope surface.

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In any case, it may be time to step things up with a more professional location — like an office or other place of business.

But before making that big investment, taking out lease and adding hundreds or even thousands a month to your overhead, here may be a more logical step to take first. A 200 to 300 square foot storage unit can be much less costly and still give you all the space you need.

Here are eight businesses that could be run entirely from a self-storage unit with the right consideration.

Run a Business Out of a Storage Unit

eBay Business

No matter what you’re selling on eBay, Amazon or Etsy, if you’re doing this from home you’re probably sick of using your living room as a quasi order fulfillment center.

With the right amenities, a self-storage unit could be used as a photo studio, a place to bunker down and rattle off a few dozen product listings and, most importantly, a place to store whatever it is you sell.

Content Provider

What better place to seek solitude and tranquility and boost on those creative juices than in the bowels of a cavernous self-storage unit. If you’re able to set up a laptop, run some electricity and arrange an internet connection, you’ve got all the makings of a makeshift office space.

That’s not to suggest that you work from some windowless, ductless bunker-like headquarters.

Actually, not all storage facilities are like this at all. Some more modern storage facilities are actually equipped with the infrastructure to make this a reality and even feature business centers, where renters have access to extra facilities like a multi-purpose room.

Mr. or Mrs. Fix It

Those with handy skills and the ability to fix just about anything broken need room to operate and even more room to keep all the tiny parts and tools that they need to get the job done.

Storing all these things at home can be awkward or impossible, especially if you don’t live alone and find yourself impinging on everyone else’s  space.

A storage unit gives you a location to store all your  parts and tools and a place to work on your projects too.

Thrift Store or “Dollar Store”

If the facility allows such activity, opening the door to your store regularly could just be a matter of popping the lock and sliding open the doors to your new second hand shop.

Set up some retail shelving inside the storage unit, fill those shelves with your products and set up a register at the entrance.

Vintage Furniture Sales

A wet, leaky basement is no place to store your your mid-century modern living room set especially if you intend on selling it.

Storing furniture — especially in the hopes of someday showcasing it for sale — requires a larger space like a warehouse floor. If you’re growing slowly, keeping a few select pieces in storage and listing them for sale locally could be the most practical path to operating a sustainable vintage furniture business and maybe even growing it into your own furniture warehouse store someday.

Video Producer

A storage unit that’s adequately constructed could be turned into a makeshift video studio. Many units are large enough to allow space for shooting videos and even a desk for a laptop or other computer to do some editing of the final product.

Just be sure to have a good sound engineer on standby. The confines of a storage unit are sure to present some challenges for audio.

Auto Mechanic

Most storage facilities will take a dim view of you bringing in broken down cars at all hours of the day and night as if you’re running a full service body shop — leaking vehicle fluids all over the storage area. 

But if your work is dedicated to one aspect of auto mechanics — say, engine rebuilding — then a storage unit could provide plenty of space for a growing company. These places will allow you to inexpensively store your valuable parts and give you the space to work on projects.

Photo Studio

Just as a storage unit can be the ideal setting — with some adjustments — for a video production and editing area, the space is equally ideal for a photo studio, too … perhaps even more so.

Proper backdrops and lighting are key to good photos and with those in place, it’ll be impossible to tell your shots were taken inside a storage locker.

Of course, before you pull up stakes from your current location and decide to set up shop inside a storage facility, be sure these activities are permitted, especially on a regular basis. Each facility varies on what it does and doesn’t allow to happen in one of their lockers.

Related reading: 51 Business Ideas for 2020

Storage Facility Photo via Shutterstock


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

18 Reactions
  1. Terrific ideas all . . . except that they’re not possible.

    Using a self-storage unit for those purposes would constitute violations of the local building codes, zoning regulations, the storage operator’s insurance, not to mention the prohibitions against such activity in virtually all self-storage leases. Neither buildings nor the sites were designed or constructed for such uses and/or traffic.
    — Richard Marmor
    Chair, Legal & Legislative Committee
    Arizona Self-Storage Association

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your comments and, of course, for taking the time to visit the site today.

      I’ll admit that this list contains a lot of non-traditional uses for storage units and, being a former municipal reporter, can understand the concerns you’d have over local zoning laws.

      That’s why I’ll double-down on my statement that any would-be entrepreneur who’d consider something like this to fully investigate the possibilities and potential pitfalls such a move would have. I’ll argue however, that not all zoning laws are created equally and the same can be said for storage units.

      Some old buildings where I’m from have been turned into storage facilities — rather than face the proverbial wrecking ball — and have been used for myriad purposes. I’ve known a few bands that used space in a reformed old shirt factory as a place to practice and meet regularly, just as an example.

      These places have been retro-fitted to allow the renters access when they want and actually offer the storage building owners some unique possibilities as to what they can offer when they take advantage of the structures.

      Again, I would advise anyone considering a storage facility to ask plenty of questions of the facility’s owner and to hunt around for unique storage facilities or one that suits their needs to a T.

      • We all understand, really we do. As a writer, you need things to write about. Unfortunately making too broad a brush stroke, or finding the proverbial “one instance” and then writing like it is a potential norm, well, is just what writers do. The mainstream may or may not know that when it comes to general interest articles, it is always better to be sure and fall on the side of interesting, than the truth.

  2. I agree with Richard’s comment. Unless a facility is build with “business units” that are approved by the municipality, this type of use is prohibited and a clause explaining this is typically included in the Lease Agreement.

    Poppy Behrens
    Mini-Storage Messenger Magazine

  3. Content provider can be done anywhere. But it requires talent and practice.

  4. Hello. Creative Ideas, but I have to say my heart was pounding through my chest when I read through this. eBay, Amazon, or STORING inventory for business, sure! That’s what, “storage,” is for. We have storage sites in CA. I I have overseen several sites over the years and know some managers in the industry turn a blind eye to these things, and it drives me nuts. We hear it from renters that, “I moved here because at my old storage, they allowed people to hang out all day and work on their cars. We left there because people next to us were always in their unit, we didn’t feel safe. We lost all of our stuff because the guy next to us left a light on and it started a fire because he was living in his unit; the bad wiring job his did burned 80 units. The pharmacy rep next door accused me of stealing a box of antidepressants.” Self-Storage is just that, “Storage, “Storage is not an auto shop, studio, room for band practice, a place to tinker or hang out. When these things are allowed in storage, the risks of fire, theft, and a bad reputation are all much greaterr. I agree with Richard. Don’t put yourself in a position of greater liability as an owner or manager of self-storage. If you have a business, get appropriate accomodations; it will be more convenient, more professional, and a write off. It’s, “storage,” not, “back alley business.”

  5. Exactly what I’m trying to find out in Ohio. I have an idea but not enough $ for building rental. Storage units are more affordable.

  6. Victor Maldonado

    Hello everyone,

    My name is Victor Maldonado. I’m currently managing two properties that opened for business on August 2nd 2016. One of the locations is doing fantastic as far as renting with a monthly average of 45-50 rentals while the other location is struggling with a merely 20-25 rentals.

    Any advice on how to pick up renting activities on the 2nd location? The site is going out marketing daily no matter the weather but it seems to be challenging actually getting food traffic in the door.

    Your advice and suggestions are appreciated please advise.

  7. These are really interesting ideas, not sure they are allowed in my current storage, but will check into legal uses. Thanks!

  8. Isaac Saint ice

    I own a bike shop, Xtreme Dream Bikes.. run from a 12 by 21 storage unit in Houston Texas. I have over 200 bikes in stock, and do business 6 days a week. All you Storage Building “Experts” talking about codes, laws and prohibitions need to speak for yourselves, you sound funny to me. See Ya, I have work to do in Room 112.

    • Hey im in houston too. which storage would they let me run a business from. Im trying to do the same. I need a storage for space to run my brakelight repair buiness

  9. It is good that you mentioned that a storage unit has many uses as that can be turned into a photo studio, a place to bunker down and, a place to store whatever it is you sell. Since my friend is planning to set up a small side street business, he has really been thinking of what best to have to get that done as he has only a limited budget. Considering a storage unit can be turned into a small stall, that will likely help him.

  10. I ran a community space and office home theater to work shop out of storage units for 13 yrs. Lots of storage facilities have options for people who run businesses out of them. Like electricity cable lighting etc. I’ve seen nicely dry walled offices too. About to look into making a small skate shop out of a unit to sell my brand online. Do real research before you open your mouth. Obviously the writer did his homework.

  11. I never took into account that a photo studio could benefit from renting a storage unit, as they will have room for props and equipment. One of my friends is actually thinking of becoming a photographer, so she may be interested in reading this article. I’ll have to mention it to her the next time I see her.

  12. I like how you explain that a storage unit gives you a location to store all your parts and tools and a place to work on your projects too. My dad told me that he would like to have his garage clean and that he needs a place to store all his items. I will recommend him to look for local storage units where he can save all his belongings.

  13. I believe in the 80/20 rule. you know, where 80% of all reward comes from 20% of the effort? Well, I believe your blog is that 20%. I’ve added you to the list of sites that I frequent. Thank you for the in depth and detailed blog posts. Not many people are willing to do that anymore.

  14. I believe the writer is confusing the difference between a “storage” and “working” units. Storage units are designed for “storage” only and yes, you could possibly use one for storing ebay items or business items. But you can not “run a business” or work in one. Be that a photo studio or band etc etc. First and fore most “storage only” facilities don’t have electric in units you can use. There’s nothing to plug in to to get power from.

    Auto repair is heavily zoned. And many working facilities prohibit certain types of work. Auto Paint and Body, Auto repair, Carpentry and so on. You have to check to see what is and is not allowed at that particular facility.

    Even band practice which yes indeed, one use to be able to just rent a working unit… which have electrical outlets to plug into and practice are now prohibiting bands from practicing and being told no more. Which as a musician / artist sucks.

    There is a huge difference between say a Public Storage facility and a working bay facility. I do believe that is where the writer didn’t distinguish between the two different types and blurred one into the other.

    Great ideas as I know many that do all of the ideas mentioned. I also know many who have been shut down with large storage only facility companies buying up working unit facilities and turning them into storage only… in fact, i myself have been shut down due to the big corps buying up all the smaller working storage facilities where I have units rented.

    They buy up apartment complexes and storage facilities – raise the rent on the apartments so you can only afford a smaller place and you have to put your things in storage which they also raise the rents on. They get you coming or going. With they’re only concern being profit margins.
    It’s all about control.

  15. I don’t run my business from my storage unit, by I do spend much time there. I sell online, Ebay and Amazon and the storage unit helps keep product from my house and it is climate controlled. I spend about 2-3 hours per day in the unit… sorting, pulling items for shipment and also keep my mailing/shipping supplies there. The storage facility also allows my incoming shipments to go to the office and they hold them until I pick them up to sort in the unit. It’s a good deal for my side business as I pay less than $100 per month for 120 square feet of storage.

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