As collectors, most of our time and attention is devoted to building a collection; that is, acquiring new memorabilia. Comparatively little time is spent pondering how to display or store collections; that is, maintaining our collections.
Yet, how we store and display collectibles can directly impact the value and enjoyment of the collection. In fact, value can be enhanced through proper storage and display. Conversely, value can be destroyed by improperly storing our to-die-for collectibles.
Previous blogs have provided input on how and what to display from collections. So, this blog will focus on preservation and storage of our cool stuff.
The first major decision you’ll face is where to store collectibles. Specifically, should you maintain control at your residence, or purchase/lease external storage space. There is no simple answer to this one. Generally speaking, though, external storage space is recommended when your abode begins to feel cluttered or when storing too much in a constricted space has the potential to damage collectibles. In other words, when collectibles begin to overwhelm or limit your living space, it’s time to move things outside of your residence. (Check out an episode of Hoarders on TV or streaming services for dramatic presentations of cluttered space.)
One other consideration when deciding where to store your collectibles is your enjoyment and the aesthetic appeal of displayed collectibles. Display areas that are overwhelmed with boxed and stored collectibles will distract from the enjoyment of the displays. In short, don’t litter your display areas – shelves, display cases, cabinets – with boxed or stored collectibles. It’s not a good look, and defeats the purpose of proudly displaying beloved memorabilia.
The primary considerations when selecting a storage space for all or part of your collection include:
- The safety and security of the storage area. In short, is your stuff safe? Beyond the omnipresent worries over theft, water damage and fire also pose significant threats to stored collectibles.
- Temperature control. Many collectibles will degrade over time in excessively warm or cold conditions.
- Ease of access to the storage area. What good is it if you can’t get at it?
- Cost. Some external storage areas are clearly overpriced.
- Room to grow. Collections rarely remain static. Most grow over time, sometimes rapidly. Choose a space that accommodates future additions. That is, plan ahead.
I’ve experienced both the agony and the ecstasy of storing a collection. I will use my best and worst experiences to illustrate what you should look for in external storage. For the record, the worst unit was selected by a relative during an extended illness – I had no choice in picking this storage facility. But I wish I had.
Storage Unit “A”
- Limited availability of temperature-controlled units; in relentless summer heat, vinyl albums fused together, causing a $10,000 loss.
- Frequent break-downs of entry keypad, limiting access.
- Unfinished cement floors, which scraped some collectibles.
- Exterior units built down long alleys, allowing winds to howl through the units; dust caked on collectibles over time.
- Broken door latch, never replaced by management.
- Lack of security cameras.
- No security alarms on outside fencing or front gate.
- Uncooperative, if not hostile, management.
- Sub-par exterior lighting; not a safe or secure environment for women.
- No fire protection system.
Then, consider the flip side of the coin.
Storage Unit “B”
- Professionally managed.
- Well-lit with multiple layers of secured access and exit from the facility.
- Tall, wired security fences.
- Extremely clean; I could have eaten a picnic lunch on the hallway and unit floors.
- Every hallway and unit is monitored by security cameras.
- Custom unit locking system.
- Security system connected to the local police department, located across the street.
- Fire protection system, with sprinklers, connected to the local fire department.
- Widespread availability of temperature-controlled units.
Storage Unit “A” was located at a large storage facility in southwest suburban Denver, part of a national chain. The unit housed my collectibles when I was ill. Upon recovery, I quickly terminated my lease.
To Die For Collectibles currently maintains several large units at Storage Unit “B,” Extra Space Storage, located in the Denver suburb of Lone Tree. It is professionally managed by Shannon, who is quite helpful and accommodating. She is a former advertising executive, and understands the concept of serving customers. Comparing these two facilities is akin to comparing night versus day. One, quite frankly, was a nightmare. The latter facility has been, and continues to be, an exceptional value that provides peace of mind, due, in no small part, to its management team. The contrast is stark.
The Bottom Line
You’ve worked – and continue to work – very hard at building your collection. Don’t compromise or settle when it comes to choosing an external storage facility to house part of your collection. You don’t scrimp when it comes to buying quality collectibles. You shouldn’t settle for less than the best when storing, preserving and protecting your prized col