By Connie Mandeville | Photos by Jessica McCafferty
If you have ever looked for a storage unit in the Plattsburgh region, you know that good ones are hard to find. Between long waiting lists and outdated units, you can often wait weeks if not months to find an open unit. The rise in demand for storage units could be attributed to minimalist movements (thanks Marie Kondo) and downsizing in general, but in the end, people just need a place for their things.
Ryan and Michael Bennett, owners of Adirondack Coast Self-Storage, saw this local demand for more self-storage units and decided to take action. At first, the Bennett brothers struggled to find the right location. They wanted one that was easily accessible and close to Plattsburgh’s center, and also a place that was secure. They found the perfect location on Arizona Avenue right off Route 22 and adjacent to the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. Part of the appeal for the Bennetts was the close proximity to residential communities and the businesses located in the south end of the city. Law enforcement often driving by was an added bonus.
Opening the storage units was not a decision the Bennetts made overnight. For close to a decade, one of their friends from downstate kept encouraging them to get into the business. After dragging their feet, the brothers finally decided to do their research and see if their buddy was onto something. And he was. Investing in storage units has low operating costs and did not require them to hire any employees, which has been valuable during the workforce shortage. Occasionally their parents help them out with phone calls, but otherwise it is just Ryan and Michael running the business.
Finding an industry that is low maintenance was key for the Bennetts because Adirondack Coast Self Storage was not their first venture. You might recognize their names from Brown Funeral Home, Mountain View Crematory, and Adirondack Memorials and Granite Works.
The self-storage industry might appear to be completely unrelated to funeral services, but working in the industry gave them a unique perspective. Many of their clients have struggled to find places for their loved one’s belongings as they settled their estates. “Storage units provide an opportunity for folks to spend the time they need to go through possessions and properly say goodbye after the loss of a loved one,” Ryan added. Most people are just not ready to part with things, creating a greater need for storage units.
The brothers have ties to real estate thanks to their mother, Kathy, who has been a real estate broker the past 40 years. While they insisted, they did not get customers directly from her, they did give her credit for opening their eyes to the need for storage units in the world of real estate. Storage units simply provide an opportunity for people to safely secure the things they are not ready to part with, even as they downsize.
Everything is conveniently done through their website. This allows everything to be contactless, which is something younger generations appreciate. All you have to do is make a reservation online and once the payment is received, customers receive a code that allows them to access their storage unit. If customers are late on their payments, they receive a notification reminder which the brothers said is likely the reason they have not had any Storage War type auctions so far. The software is the reason why Michael and Ryan are able to manage the company themselves and not hire employees, keeping overhead costs low.
Adirondack Coast Self Storage also keeps advertising costs low. The brothers use social media and word of mouth to get their business’ name out there. This seems to be serving their business well since there is a waiting list for their some of their larger units. “A common problem many customers find is they overestimate the size of the smaller units and end up needing to rent an additional one,” Michael noted.
While it might seem relatively easy to open a storage unit business, the brothers did find a few challenges along the way. The biggest issue was zoning. The land was not zoned for storage, and they had to jump through hoops to get it re-zoned. The brothers not only had to work with the Town of Plattsburgh, they also had to work with the City of Plattsburgh because of their close proximity to the city.
The Bennetts also had to work with emergency services before opening the units to make sure that every unit was marked clearly. But this was welcomed bureaucracy to be prepared for any emergency. They take great pride in safety, offering security cameras and well-lit spaces to give their customers peace of mind that their belongings are safe and secure.
When asked for any interesting stories in their first few months in the storage unit business, they did not have anything to say that would make Primetime television. What has been most noteworthy for them was not the type of things people store or people’s need to keep things, but the overall kindness of the North Country. During construction, countless people stopped by to chat and welcome them to the community. The number of people who stopped to talk surprised them, but was the first sign that they were doing the right thing by opening the new business.
After six months, the Bennetts said there are no signs of slowing down. If anything, the first few months has only proven to them that there is a real need for more storage units in the region — which is why the brothers already have plans to add a fourth building this spring.
Adirondack Coast Self-Storage
296 Arizona Ave.
Plattsburgh, NY 12903