A newly launched online social marketplace sharemystorage.com gives householders the opportunity to rent out garages, spare rooms, basements and attics to like-minded locals seeking storage space. It’s a unique service that empowers communities to meet each other’s storage needs whilst earning extra income and reducing the costs associated with self-storage. For any online social marketplace to work to its full capabilities it need input from people like YOU! By spreading the word about this concept to your friends, family and work colleagues will save them a fortune should they have any storage needs.

Here are a few Q&A’s from Imran Azam, founder of sharemystorage.com

What inspired you to set up SmS?
Back in July 2010 a neighbour asked if she could store her children’s bikes in our garage whilst her home was being renovated. She explained that she had found it extremely difficult to find a storage facility that was close at hand and reasonably priced. We were only too happy to help but her story intrigued us so we decided to have a closer look at the big-brand self-storage industry.

What we found was quite staggering; out of town industrial locations, premium prices, a neglect of rural and northern communities, and over priced packaging material and insurance. We thought there had to be a better way of meeting everyday people’s storage needs; if our garage was suitable then why not other private spaces? It was really the light bulb moment that gave birth to sharemystorage.com.

What are you trying to achieve?
The self-storage industry in general is not accessible to a significant number of people in the UK. Over 65% of facilities are based in London and the surrounding area with many parts of the UK totally neglected. SmS can help bridge the ‘services gap’ by empowering communities to meet each other’s storage needs whilst rebuilding trust in society.

Sms is part of the global ‘collaborative consumption’ movement and one of a growing number of online services helping everyday people swap, share, barter, trade and rent all manner of goods and services through the latest technologies in ways and on a scale never possible before.

Is SmS all about individuals or do you support businesses?
Although our primary our focus is to build a community of trust amongst everyday people looking for and providing alternative self-storage we also wish to support independent self-storage providers. Independent self storage businesses do not on the whole act in the same way as multi-chain big businesses. The difference is how the respective businesses are structured. In short where the shareholders of the business are not the managers of the business there is the possibility of a mismatch of commercial and non-commercial values. Independent storage providers are generally owner managed and are in a position to choose the values associated with their businesses and what they aim to achieve. It maybe the case that increasing profitability is not their number one priority and that maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction is. Independent self-storage is in a position to make decisions that deliver long term stability, local prosperity and secure employment without worrying about meeting short term financial gains.

How do you address issues related to personal safety?
We absolutely recognise that ensuring personal safety is paramount to delivering an effective service. In a similar way to Ebay, SmS offers a private messaging system that allows members to communicate without having to reveal personal contact details. The site also provides a close approximation of the storage locations based on post codes but does not publish specific addresses. Member contact information is only provided once both parties have agreed to a booking through the site.

Who is responsible for any accidental damage to goods in storage?
Having spoken to numerous insurance brokers it is clear that home contents insurance policies only cover items that are considered ‘personal possessions’. In the context of SmS this means that homeowners are not responsible for the accidental damage of items they store on behalf of someone else.

Therefore it is up to storage users to make their own arrangements. Many standard home contents insurance policies make allowances for items held in ‘temporary storage’ so we’d recommend checking with insurers prior to using the service.

How has SmS been received?
Its early days but the reaction has been overwhelming; we currently have listings from Dorset on the south coast to Inverness in Scotland and everything in between. It would seem that that earning extra income from unused space combined with a desire to help local communities is proving to be a compelling proposition.

Why not visit sharemystorage.com and see how they might be able to help you with your storage needs? What are your thoughts about “Finding like-minded locals seeking storage space”? Please share this article with your friends and followers by using the social buttons.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Peter has received many accreditation's including many from the Times Online. As founder of You Could Save (2005) and What Stationers (2007) Peter regularly helps consumers and national organisation ‘save money’. He believes that the only successful way to bring people together online is to provide an open marketplace where people can all work together in a friendly, unbiased environment. You can contact Peter Millikin either through his Google+ account or via his websites.

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