Self-storage is an industry that’s been expanding in recent years, and this also extends to the kinds of items that clients put in their units. Things like bags of old clothes, boxes of mementos and furniture have been the staples of self-storage, but other, more interesting items can and are also stored—and some might shock you!
We surveyed professionals in the industry to get some testimonies and stories about the most unusual items that have been put in self-storage. They reveal that some clients are collectors of unusual objects, some are sentimental, while others have motives that can only be guessed at. Storage security staff might get a glimpse of something strange when clients move things in or out, but they’re more likely to get a good look if a unit is abandoned and they have to do something with the stuff in there. We made a list of the 14 strangest things put in storage units.
1) An Electric Chair
Yes, this is not a mobility scooter or a massage chair. T. J. Peterson at Oz Moving & Storage, a company with facilities in New York City, Northern New Jersey and California, reported that it is an actual execution device, as used by several US states! Was it given to a penitentiary employee after laws were passed that made it surplus to requirements? Or, maybe it’s not quite what it seems—is there a theater play about somebody on death row who goes to ‘the chair’?
2) Cans of Cockroaches
Why would anyone keep cockroaches? If there’s one animal nobody ever wants to see it’s surely this one. Anybody who’s worked in restaurants for a length of time will have encountered them, and sadly they sometimes get into people’s homes as well. But it’s said they are great survivors, so maybe somebody was using them for experiments!
3) Deadly Snakes
Yes, sorry. This is from the same source as the cockroach story, down under in Australia, which appears to be a mine of strange storage stories as it is also a treasure trove of animals you would never want to meet. How on earth these beasts were kept in such an environment is anyone’s guess. Please don’t have nightmares.
4) Taxidermized Animals
Some pets’ owners are so sad to see them go they have them stuffed so they can still be looked at fondly. But when the late pet’s owner dies—or perhaps simply gets another pet—the preserved (former) loved one might get the boot, and yet it’s too unusual to just throw into the trash. Taxidermists are also employed by hunters to immortalize their successes. Our thanks again go to T. J. Peterson at Oz Moving & Storage who sent us this photo of a lion found in one of their units!
5) Body Parts
We’re not going to tell you some of the more gruesome things that have been reported found in storage units, but a jar of somebody’s gallstones is not likely to make anybody too squeamish. After all, these little critters can be really rather painful, and anybody who has had them will be glad to get them removed and then to have a good look at what’s been causing all the trouble!
6) Spy Equipment
This was an altogether more worrying bunch of gear when it was found in a locker. The chances of somebody leaving this kind of stuff in storage if they are engaged in legitimate work seems not so likely, so the mind boggles regarding what they were using it for. However, as long as none of it is illegal to own, it’s not the self-storage provider’s job to meddle in their clients’ business.
7) Urns of Ashes
This item has been mentioned by more than one self-storage provider. Loved ones get kind words at the time of their cremation service, but the container their ashes are kept in just doesn’t look right on the mantlepiece, so off to the storage locker it goes. And anyone who takes over another’s possessions might not even have known the person whose remains are in there, and yet it’s something that’s difficult to throw away.
8) Chocolate Equipment
Whether it be chocolate fountains for a party or equipment for actually making the stuff, it seems that chocolate is as popular as ever. Matt Casady of STOR-N-LOCK Self Storage has told the story of a storage locker that was used for such equipment and became known as the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” unit, necessitating some polite requests to leave. Food attracts pests and is usually a no-no.
9) Theater Props?
Dan Butler at Flexible Storage Solutions in the UK tells us that a 7ft tall wooden horse was found in one of their units, and we’ve been racking our brains to think who might need such an object. It seems too large to be a child’s rocking horse, and if it was a work of art it would probably be worth exhibiting or selling. Or, as with the electric chair, has anybody even seen a play about the Trojan War, the one where the soldiers hide inside a large wooden horse?
10) Old Cars
Cars are often left in storage, but their value can be very questionable indeed. Some people store an old car hoping to renovate it and use it at a later date, but plans are not always fulfilled. The vehicle’s insurance and registration fees will need to be renewed in time to get it back on the road, providing a disincentive for doing so. But another reason for keeping an old car is sentimental value: if it was somebody’s first ever vehicle, who knows what stories it might tell!
11) A Huge Collection of Light Bulbs
Collectors often find a storage unit very useful for holding the overflow of their hobby, but what they actually like to collect can be very surprising indeed. Dan Lysogorsky at Nationwide Storage Container Sales reports finding a unit containing a large collection of light bulbs—small, large and unusual—amassed over a period of decades. They were mostly undamaged, but they weren’t worth much…. except to somebody else who collects light bulbs.
12) Hundreds of Typewriters
Alexandra Tran at Hollingsworth, a national e-commerce and logistics company that offers storage solutions, mentions the time when hundreds of old typewriters were found in one of their units. Could this be another collector? Or maybe they’re junk—there are ways to repurpose these outdated machines, but they require a LOT of imagination. The existence of several typewriter museums around the world suggests to us that some people out there really do just love typewriters!
13) Electronic Dance Floors
And some people really do enjoy throwing parties…. this is starting to make more sense now. This item—reported to be just like the one used by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever—might indeed be cumbersome to have at home when not being used. Maybe it could utilize some of the more interesting colored bulbs stored away by our collector!
14) A Film Star’s Memorabilia
We’re not going to tell you which film star, but he was huge in the 70s and rather easy on the eye. It seems he wasn’t so famous for his good taste, however, as many of the items found stored were said to be ‘kitsch.’ But for movie buffs there were allegedly some seriously interesting artifacts, such as the bill of sale for Trigger, the most famous horse in cinema history, and the canoe he paddled in his breakthrough film. Did you guess who it is yet?
There are certainly some interesting tales from the self-storage industry, and there are surely many others we haven’t heard that would also surprise and amuse. Many providers understandably don’t want to emphasize anything bad that happens in their storage units but, conversely, the industry tends to be considered a little mundane and we could all use a little excitement from time to time!