the national debate over gun laws and safety continues, the fact remains that a
large percentage of Americans own guns. Per a study conducted in 2015, nearly
one in every three Americans owns at least one firearm.
self-storage facilities prohibit firearm storage in their units. However, the
national debate over guns may be why it makes sense for some self-storage
facilities to offer dedicated gun storage as an ancillary part of their
business. A few states, for example, have made it illegal for gun owners to
leave their weapons with friends or relatives, even if it is temporary, while
they go out of town. This makes storing their guns at dedicated storage
facilities an attractive option.
states may not have such restrictions but have a large population of gun owners
with expensive collections who want to store their firearms securely.
just depends on where your facility is located and your potential customer
is known as the “sportsman’s paradise”. Over 44 percent of residents in the
state own a firearm, but that isn’t the reason owners of Elmwood Self Storage
& Wine Cellar in New Orleans decided to create an upscale gun storage
facility as part of their offerings.
Gardes, director of operations for Elmwood, notes that hunting and fishing are
big in the state, but it’s not your average hunter who wants to store their
guns. The typical gun storage tenant has collector guns and pistols they want
to keep safe.
says his company conducted its due diligence on the area before building and
opening Elmwood in 2004. The self-storage facility has 215,000 square feet of
storage and over 1,500 rentable units. However, the owners wanted the facility
to offer additional services that weren’t plentiful in the area.
in the Elmwood Industrial Park, which Gardes describes as a “city within a
city,” that sees traffic of approximately 35,000 people per day, the company
wanted to build a state-of-the-art facility that caters to high-end customers
who have pricey gun and wine collections.
spared no expense on its gun storage area, which sits inside a $10,000 bank
vault door. Mahogany gun cabinets were designed specifically for the facility. The
high-end cabinets cost the company another $10,000 to design and build.
facility opened with 20 gun cabinets, but half of them were eventually removed
to make room for additional wine storage.
cabinet is designed to accommodate up to 35 guns, including six slots for
rifles. Of course, such a facility requires state-of-the-art security with 120
120 cameras are just the beginning of the extra security. When driving in,
cameras snap photos of each license plate. When customers enter their passcode,
a camera takes a photo and compares the photo of the person to the tenant. Anne
Ballard, president of marketing, training, and development for Universal
Storage Group, which manages Elmwood, says the property has key pads and fingerprint
biometrics in the vault. The vault is also restricted to tenants only.
facility is open seven days per week and, for a fee, tenants can gain access to
the vault after hours.
A Hybrid Storage
Gallagher, co-owner/manager of Colorado Vault & Safe Deposit Box Co. and J.L.
Consulting, a company that consults with self-storage facilities on best
practices, concedes that Colorado Vault isn’t a traditional self-storage
facility, but instead calls it what may be the next generation of the industry,
Vault & Safe Deposit Box is located inside a retail space in a strip mall.
There are no self-storage units. Instead, there is a 300-square foot vault with
individual safety deposit boxes and gun storage vaults. On the outside, it
looks like a strip mall; on the inside, it looks like a bank. Both he and his partner,
Frank Robinson, are former bankers. Gallahger explains that banks don’t want customers
to store guns in safety deposit boxes. The partners adding gun storage to meet customer
than 33 percent of Coloradoans own guns, and Gallagher says there is a high
percentage of people who consider themselves survivalists, owning more than one
firearm. Mass shootings in recent years, particularly the one in Aurora,
spurred Colorado to pass new gun laws, which opened the market for some gun
owners to store their firearms in more secure vaults.
says gun storage at the facility only accounts for 30 percent of the safety
deposit box/vault business, but he admits they do not know how many people are
storing firearms at the facility if they are not specifically renting a gun
storage locker. They do not monitor what’s in the safety deposit boxes.
Nevertheless, they do not permit the storage of perishable, illegal, or
dedicated gun vaults can accommodate 10 and 14 long guns as well as pistols. The
facility is monitored with on-site and off-site cameras and, just like a bank,
there are two keys for each vault or safety deposit box. An on-site attendant
keeps a key and the tenant keeps a key; both must be present to open the box or
facility will open for tenants after hours for a fee.
Along The Gulf
42 percent of Mississippians own guns, and it’s conceivable to believe that
many of them live along Mississippi’s Gulf Shore, which is prone to hurricanes.
That was the driving reason why John Fayard Self Storage added gun storage when
it opened in 2009. Mary Limberg, manager of the 868-space facility in Gulfport,
which also has wine and RV storage, says the gun storage was added to meet the
needs of the community.
those 868 units, only 39 are dedicated to gun storage. They are located in a
separate vault. The cabinets are mahogany and there are additional security
checkpoints to access to the room. Limberg mentions that the gun storage area
has additional lighting as well as temperature and humidity controls to prevent
the guns from rusting.
Gun Storage Considerations
currently aren’t very many self-storage facilities that have dedicated gun
storage, and that may be due to the high cost of additional security compared
to the ROI. Gardes says that while his company invested a lot of money in the
gun storage cabinets inside the vault, gun storage is a minute portion of the
you do decide to add gun storage to your business, Scott Zucker, partner with
Weissmann Zucker Euster Morochnick in Atlanta, Ga., says there are special
legal considerations. You should know the laws in your state, as well as your
local jurisdiction, regarding firearm storage, and know the laws about how to
dispose of the firearms should the tenant not pay or abandon their property.
reminds owners to obtain the necessary riders to your insurance. Moreover, special
addendums will need to be made to your lease agreements that release you from
liability and responsibility and require your tenants to have proper insurance.
gun storage seems to be the easiest part of this business. Gardes says the
money some people save on their homeowners insurance makes it well worth the
cost of leasing the space. Limberg notes the only marketing they’ve done to
stay leased is through their social media pages, website, and outside LED
All three of these examples report near or 100 percent occupancy. The key is knowing your demographics. Remember: You must know your market to know how many cabinets you can realistically lease.
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a freelance journalist based in the Ozark Mountains. She is a regular contributor to MiniCo’s publications. Her business articles have also appeared in Entrepreneur, Aol.com, MSN.com, and The Kansas City Star.