Honolulu is the most expensive city for self storage among the country’s top 100 largest cities. The monthly street rate for a non-climate controlled, 10×10 storage unit in Honolulu hovers around $276, more than double the national average for the same type of unit. According to the latest National Self Storage Report from Yardi Matrix, national street rates for standard 10×10 storage units sit at $116 per month.
One of the main drivers of the high self storage rates for Honolulu self storage units is the market’s low inventory of available units. Currently, the city has about 4,000 units totaling a little over 1 million square feet of rentable storage space. This translates to about 2.9 square feet per capita, significantly under the national benchmark of 7 square feet. Currently, work is underway for a new self storage facility in Honolulu that will add another 123,000 square feet of space to the local inventory.
As the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on the economy, the resiliency of the self storage sector was also put to the test, but it managed to push through as varied demand kept things moving. To learn more about how the sector is doing right now in Honolulu, and how it adjusted to the current situation, we talked to Devina Maharaj-Chun, operations manager at the local Kaimuki Self Storage.
Honolulu’s self storage sector held well during the pandemic
The self storage business was very lucrative in Honolulu during the past few months, according to Devina Maharaj-Chun. Confronted with a temporary lack of space, many people found a solution in using self storage. “In light of this crisis, families are taking in their parents, children, and others to lend a hand until normalcy returns,” said Maharaj-Chun. “Some of these people have utilized self storage to save belongings and valuables. Many people are also downsizing from houses to apartments or apartments to rooms. Same scenario, self storage to the rescue.”
Special offers and perks for customers
Some self storage facilities have thought of ways to ease the process, and many came up with special offers to support their customers during this period. For Kaimuki Self Storage, the best sellers were prepaid rewards, where customers prepay six months and get the seventh month free. “We also offer rate lock prices and do not charge security deposit,” added Maharaj-Chun. “Our perks are pickup and drop-off service, mail and package acceptance service, shredding, donation drop-offs and selling locking devices and packing materials. These work for us because we are motivated to cater to our customers’ needs.”
The transition toward online operations was swift and successful
The COVID-19 pandemic brought important changes to the self storage sector. In a relatively short amount of time, the industry adjusted to the new realities, as tech infrastructure was already available. Many facilities implemented new procedures to keep customers and employees safe and healthy, while customers were more than willing to use online tools to rent units and pay their bills. “Majority of the tenants have switched to autopay or phone payments. There is definitely less foot traffic,” remarked Maharaj-Chun from Kaimuki Self Storage.
Big emphasis on keeping the spaces clean and disinfected
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye-opening experience for many operators. Maharaj-Chun and her team are keen on keeping things safe for their customers and undertake regular actions to make sure that the storage facility, the units and all the equipment inside the facility are disinfected regularly. “We are very proactive in cleanliness, disinfecting and overall sanitation of the premises, inside and outside. Hand sanitizers are readily available for use in public areas. Wipe-downs are carried out after each customer throughout the facility. The dolly carts, hand trucks, wagons, sign in book/pen/counter area, inside office are all sanitized immediately after use. We are constantly monitoring the camera to make sure no unsafe behavior is being demonstrated by the tenants.”
Another way the facility is minimizing risks for employees is by adjusting operating hours and being proactive about mask wearing. “We have also shortened the operating hours since there is very little foot traffic. The employees are doing shorter shifts. Social distance is very much a reality with markers for wait lines. Masks are mandated in our facility for everyone — visitors, tenants and employees — at all times,” Maharaj-Chun added.