Several years ago while speaking at a seminar I heard another speaker share an incredibly powerful idea about trends. His theme was “The future always reveals itself in the present”. In this current series on spotting trends I have asked readers to share their insights about trends we can see. No one of us can ever know more than the whole and we can see here a powerful and sensitive insight about storage and wealth.
A recent message (see https://www.garyascott.com/archives/2004/05/19/1047/index.html) looked at the market for storage units and how this has exploded. What message can this trend tell us about society and where our investments and business should go? What clues and secrets can we see in this action of so many people and how will this activity evolve?
I asked you to give me your opinions and here is what one sensitive, astute reader shared.
Gary, Yes, storage seems to be big business now. I can tell you from personal experience what I think and have come to know.
I was in Florida a few years ago, helping a friend select a storage facility. In the South, there are a lot of units that are quite posh and have A/C.
One of them didn't. It was a large room with chicken wire separating each unit, so you could see all the interiors. It was so sad! Clothing, furniture in not too good repair, pathetic evidences of a life not lived… I asked the woman why people stored things. She said one word, and it really shocked me; it was “hope.” Hope that some time, one could redeem one's belongings and integrate them into one's life…
Sadly, a lot of people never do. And that showed me truly what storage is for some people and why they have units. I can use myself as an example. I once had a fairly large home. I moved, and put things in storage. I then was able to take some of the things out, and move to the smallest unit. Then, I moved again, and there wasn't room for all my goodies. These include furniture, a washer, dryer, paintings (I'm an artist who used to paint very large), silverware, books and my out of season clothing.
Well, I'm getting tired of this scenario and paying $55 per month to a unit that is a half hour away from me. And tired of the musty smell of my clothing when I get it.
I don't yet know how I'm going to do it, but I do know and intend, that I will go through all this stuff, and have a place for those things that I am still attached to. The rest – sell or get rid of.
Now I know I've taken a lot of space to answer your question. I know this is only one reality. Sure, there are some people who do, short term, use the units when they are between housing arrangements.
But look at the people who have a unit for more than a year. Then you get my, and others, scenario. And it's really sad, seeing how people downsize because they no longer can afford the house they once had. On the coast of Maine, it's very very expensive to live and a lot of people
have been taxed out of their homesteads that have been in their family forever. I don't know what the answer is, but… It's something we need to look at. Thanks for listening!
What can we learn from this thinking about investing and trends?
First perhaps this can give us a clue about the current state of the US economy. Downsized could be the word. How will this affect the future?
Another fact we can see is that people are moving more. Previous messages at this site outlined how there has been such a huge migration of people that now one sixth of the U.S. population lives in a county that abuts either the Atlantic or Gulf Coast. This has been the largest, richest migration in the history of mankind and the crowds along the U.S. coast create many severe social problems. Plus prices for such land has risen dramatically. This shift to the coast results in rising home costs and tax, displacement.
This can also suggest changes in lifestyle trends. When we baby boomers were kids we expected better lifestyles than our parents. Is this now true? If not, how will this affect business and investing?
Finally we see a clue about hope…. hope that some time, one can redeem one's belongings and integrate them into one's life. What markets can hopes like this create in the future?
I am not coming to any conclusions. We are sharing here and trying to peer into the mists of future events from our opaque visions of the here and now. What can this thinking help you see? Keep sharing and let’s see where this leads us.
Until next message, good investing to you!