Storing the Self

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Somteime in the future, archaeologists will probably look at America’s self storage units the same way we study Egyptian tombs, as treasures and symbols of our social values. The storage industry got its start back in the 60’s, and for years was used by people in flux, college students and relocating families. But today it is a multi-billion dollar industry, with more than 30 thousand facilities, most of which are rented by people who have a permanent home, but simply have too much stuff, and need a place to put it.

While some say this attachment to things is a natural outgrowth of America’s prosperous and materialistic society, others see signs of an economy on the downslide, and a cultural pathology of stuff. I posses therefore I am. Self storage and self identity in America.


Tom Litton, owner of self storage facilities

Eugene Halton, coauthor of “The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self” and professor of sociology and American Studies at the University of Notre Dame.