On-Demand Storage for City Dwellers

Quicker storage options for New Yorkers
By Catherine Yang
Catherine Yang
Catherine Yang
June 1, 2014 Updated: June 1, 2014

With the lowest car-ownership rate in the country, New York City is one of the best locations for delivery services, which really deliver anything from groceries and meals to subscription services like clothes to try on and send back if you don’t like them. And now you can have more square footage delivered in New York.

Gotham Buchi was in between apartments when he realized he piles of seasonal items—winter wear, biking gear—that he did not want to pack up to bring to his East Village studio.

So he started looking for storage options, and came upon urBin. Buchi wasn’t too excited at first, learning his things would be trucked all the way to Seacaucus, New Jersey, but was soon sold by the simplicity of the new storage service.

UrBin is the storage service of the solutions economy. The company delivers bins to you, you fill them up, and they truck the bins over to Hoboken. Each bin is $2, with a $25 delivery fee, and a starting $20 monthly storage fee. Items larger than a bin require a heads up.

The items are just a few clicks away, and can be delivered to your doorstep whenever you want. It’s a way to “reclaim your space,” says urBin co-founder Joshua Ernst.

Having grown up in Texas with an excess of space, storage was a big concern when Ernst moved to New York.

“Traditional storage solutions require customers to pack up their car or truck (assuming they have one), haul their items to a storage facility, unload it and then pack it into a unit,” Ernst said. “And that’s just the move-in.”

The median Manhattan studio size is 550 square feet, according to listing sites, but the typical studio can vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood and tiny, tiny spaces in the Village are common.

“It’s 2014 and you shouldn’t have to move to a larger apartment or deal with the antiquated self-storage industry just to have more room to actually live,” Ernst said.

The company envisions changing how people look at storage—if the service is convenient enough, people will have no qualms storing more, knowing they can easily access the things they’ve put into bins. It’s a new segment of the storage industry, and other start-ups have joined the trend as well.

Make Space calls itself the real-life Dropbox, allowing customers to store things remotely and access them quickly. The New York-based start up also uses bins, with a $25 monthly rate for four bins that can be delivered back for a $29 fee.

But thinking of storage as an on-demand service may take a bit longer to catch on.

“It’s more for seasonal things, or things I don’t need where I live now but might need in the future,” Buchi said.