HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's a packrat's paradise. Island life leaves little room to move, and that's why residents are rounding up their heirlooms and putting their precious - and not so precious - belongings in storage.
Multi-generational families live here in Hawaii and when things get handed down, it adds up. That's one of the reasons the self-storage industry has grown so quickly in the past few years. But now, experts say the market could even be oversaturated with storage facilities.
A sign in Joelson and Lorely Ea's storage unit says 'Just married'. They got hitched in 1996. Since then, things have been piling up.
"We have room, but it's too cloggy, so it's a lot better here," says Joelson Ea, as he surveys his rental space. They keep family mementos and work boxes at Hawaii Self Storage in Pearl City. Joelson even uses the unit for his bike-building hobby. "This is just like my garage," he says.
Many residents consider these self-storage facilities a home away from home. Hawaii has some of the lowest square footage per capita in the country and few attics or basements. Even nooks and crannies won't do.
"We found that Hawaii has a grave need for storage," explains Naoi Yuen, the director of business development at Hawaii Self-Storage. He says, at last count in 2009, the industry reported 49 storage facilities on Oahu. About 40 percent of those were built from 2005 to 2008.
"For a number of different reasons, people are in transition. So, they're either moving back in with family or they're downsizing from a larger living area to a smaller living area."
At a time when many businesses have struggled to stay afloat in the poor economy, self-storage companies seem to have flourished. Competing companies have even popped up across the street from each other. But so many facilities went up so quickly in the islands, that some believe the market has leveled off and may even be too crowded.
Customer Tony Perkins is just happy to have the extra elbow room. He's been renting for six months and says home and office were both overcrowded. "My business, I use a lot of different kinds of equipment that really, I can't store. I'm on a walk-up. Fourth floor."
Because of the industry's growth spurt, the competition to get and keep your business has been fierce. Companies offer incentives like free wi-fi, 24-hour access and security, conference rooms, and climate control.