We’ve only been dealing with the coronavirus crisis a few weeks, but it already feels like months – or even longer. Things are changing at a rapid pace, and we all need to keep up with the new realities, including closed schools and universities, working from home, distancing from other people and spending most of our time confined between walls.
Among the businesses that have had to adapt pretty quickly to these new circumstances are the self storage facilities in Oklahoma City. The local universities transferred all their classes online and almost all campuses are closed, totally or partially, or in the process of being closed. Students must pack their stuff and move out of their dorms. Due to this fact, self storage facilities in the city, especially the ones located close to campuses, are registering a flurry of activity.
College students and their parents got help and assurance from storage facility managers
Students of Oklahoma City University had to vacate the campus by April 5, unless they were approved for emergency housing. Another big university in the city, the Southern Nazarene University, has closed student accommodation spaces and is providing credit for room and board charges for the unused portion of the semester.
The University of Oklahoma has not closed its campus yet but is enforcing strict social distancing rules and all the classes are online, so many students decided to go home anyway. The entire situation is worrisome and emotional for college students and their parents. Many drove to Oklahoma City in order to help their children pack and store their belongings and take them home.
“Our students come from as close as Southern Nazarene University and Oklahoma City University, and as far as the Oklahoma University campus in Norman. Many parents help their children move, and they’ve come from as far as Arizona and Pennsylvania. Our Property Manager, Jessica, is also a mother, so parents are comforted when they meet her – they know that she’ll take a personal interest in their kids, and that she’s not just renting them a metal box with a door and a lock.” says Tom Kilpatrick, owner of the Twenty-Third Street Storage facility.
Located at 4820 NW 23rd Street, Oklahoma City, Twenty-Third Street Storage provides a wide variety of units, from small 5X5 ones to large 15X40 spaces, which can be climate-controlled or standard. Parking spaces for cars, boats, trailers or RVs are also available, and there are also delivery options for businesses.
College students want individual self storage units, rather than shared spaces
It also appears that, compared to other years, college students are more careful now and prefer to rent individual units. This could be a smart choice, in line with the social distancing rules. If students are dealing with the entire packing, storing and moving out process individually, and not in groups of friends, like they did before, the risks of unknowingly spreading the virus, or becoming infected, are reduced.
“We have 100% repeat customers – if they’ve rented with us before, they come back every summer until they graduate, and they refer their underclass friends to us. This year instead of several students storing all of their belongings in one large unit, they’re storing their things separately in smaller individual units.” continued Tom Kilpatrick, adding that they are expecting another big rush of arrivals, as campuses will continue their scheduled closings.
Extra safety measures taken by Oklahoma City storage facilities
The health of self-storage facility customers and staff is paramount, and businesses are taking measures to provide a safe and sanitized environment for everyone. Extra Storage Space facilities in Oklahoma City are limiting person-to-person contact as much as possible. Although offices remain open, staff are communicating with customers mostly through phone and email, as stated on their website.
The staff are practicing CDC recommended prevention measures and hand-washing techniques, and the stores are provided with extra supplies of hand sanitizing and disinfecting substances. Also, Extra Storage Space is encouraging employees to stay home if sick and is implementing policies to ease access to obtain leaves of absence.
SecurCare Self Storage facilities instructed staff to apply the social distancing rules and is making no-contact rentals available, according to the company’s website. This means that customers, college students included, will be asked to communicate through phone and email, even if they are at the facility. Other alternate means of communication, such as talking through windows or doors, are possible.
Reno Avenue Self Storage announced on their website that they are reducing office hours and encouraging customers to rent and pay online in order to protect both their staff and their customers. Simply Self Storage says that, depending on how the situation is evolving, office visits may be limited to one customer at a time, while both staff and customers are urged to practice social distancing. They recommend that rentals and payments are completed online. Also, this self storage business posted on their website that they might reschedule or delay unit auctions as a courtesy to customers.
The average street rate for a self storage unit in Oklahoma City hovers around $63 per month, significantly below the national average of $114, according to Yardi Matrix data.
Whether you’re a college student moving out of an Oklahoma City campus, or you belong to another category of customers, call your storage facility before dropping by, as regular office hours might have changed. Complete online all the operations that can be done this way, to minimize person-to-person contact at the facility. Make sure you are following the CDC recommendations regarding social distancing, hand washing and the use of protective gear.