Ken's Blog: Storage battles

The case for shelving, specifically that one bookcase that's now in my office.

HBSDealer's library, in a handsome bookcase.

It seems logical that America's low homeownership rate -- 63.6% at last look -- means that there exists a relatively high level of apartment living and cohabitation.

As they're saving up for a down payment, many future homeowners are living in smaller spaces and sometimes sharing spaces. And many young Americans are cohabitating with relatives -- just as the author did in 1990 with my dear grandmother in Edison, New Jersey. May she rest in peace.

This reality, in my view, makes storage and organization a prime category for growth.

The market is particularly encouraging for Pinterest-ready storage solutions, such as industrial pipe shelving. The author had long wished for such a storage system in his own work area, but instead, settled for the wooden bookcase that, until recently, wasted away in the mailroom area here at the headquarters of Lebhar-Friedman, Inc., the publishing company and employer of the author.

(Note: There was some controversy regarding my snatching of this storage unit. Some colleagues considered this bookcase a common feature of the mailroom, to be used and enjoyed by all Lebhar-Friedman employees. In some quarters, there was grumbling and disgruntled whispers.

But let me explain, once and for all.

In the mailroom, the utility of the bookcase was wasted on simple stacks of paper. On the top shelf, there were stacks of paper packages. On the bottom shelf, there were more stacks of the same paper packages. Colleagues never needed the bottom package. They would just take paper from the top package and move on. Clearly, there was no need for an elaborate storage system. Just stack the paper and be done with it.

Now consider how the shelf works here in my work area (see photo). The storage unit efficiently and attractively stores two rows of our historic, hardbound volumes of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer. These volumes – many from the 1970s and 1980s -- stand tall and proud in the shelves, Whereas, before I took the bookcase, they were stacked on top of each other, making retrieval difficult.

Easy access to the volumes is an important consideration, not only for our popular "Throwback Thursday" features, but also to research my one-man industry presentation: "Home Centers: Past, Present and Future."

Occasionally, my work area receives visitors in the form of retailers and industry decision makers. Isn't it better for guests to see our historic volumes stored in an attractive bookcase? The mailroom never gets a second look from the outside world, unless a visitor mistakenly takes the freight elevator up to our 19th floor. That happened once. It still amazes me that someone couldn't figure out where our front door is located.

Finally, and this I hope puts the controversy to rest, the shelf unit in the mailroom narrowed a critical passageway toward fire escape B. There is little need to pursue this point. 

So, now everyone can see why I moved the bookcase into my work space – for the safety of my colleagues, for the harmony of the office, and in accordance with what are probably industry best practices.)

In closing, let me suggest that companies that appreciate the growth potential of home storage and organization will have an advantage in this competitive marketplace.

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