UrBin Seeks to Simplify Storage in New York City

By    April 28, 2014

urBin

In New York City, where an average studio apartment in Manhattan rents for more than $2,000 a month, space comes at a huge premium. If you have items cluttering your apartment that you don’t need to access each day, it often makes more sense to put them in storage than to let them take up that expensive real estate.

For urban dwellers, though, renting a truck and getting to a self-storage facility can be hard, especially when you factor in hauling heavy boxes up and down several flights of stairs.

New York City startup UrBin thinks it has answer with its storage-by-the-bin service, although several other companies say they’ve got the same answer. UrBin’s New York City rivals in the storage-by-the-bin market include self-storage REIT CubeSmart as well as fellow startups Boxbee and MakeSpace.

How It Works
Launched last summer in New York City, UrBin delivers storage bins directly to its customers’ doors; customers fill the bins with their possessions and lock them up. When they’re ready for their bins to be picked up, the customers notify UrBin, and a driver will deliver the bins to a storage facility in New Jersey. The bins are stored at a rate of $20 a month. When you’re ready to reclaim your items, or you simply want to grab something from one of your bins, you’ll pay a $25 delivery fee, plus $2 per bin, for a driver to bring the bins back to your place.

“We consider the bins to be an extension of our customers’ own personal space,” said Joshua Ernst, co-founder of UrBin. “You pack up the items that are in your way, and we’ll store them. It’s just a few clicks to have access to your space again.”

urBin

The founders of urBin appear in a rather revealing promotional video.

Why Use It?
In some cases, people in tight quarters would be better served by selling or donating items that they don’t use regularly. But for items that are used occasionally (such as formal and seasonal attire) or those that have sentimental value (such as family heirlooms), making use of storage can be a good way to hang onto those items without letting them clutter your living space.

UrBin doesn’t look inside its customers’ bins, so Ernst doesn’t know exactly how the company’s offering is being used, but the uses are quite varied from the examples he has seen. “One customer stores weights in his bins,” he said. “That keeps our moving guys on their toes.”

UrBin also stores oversized items, such as bikes and couches; Realtors also have turned to UrBin to store their clients’ extra items while staging apartments to rent or sell.

“Our customers like the convenience factor. It lets them reclaim space within their homes,” Ernst said.

Where It’s Going
UrBin now has several full-time employees and about a dozen part-time workers who handle pickups and deliveries. The company operates throughout most of New York City’s five boroughs, as well as in northern New Jersey.

Although UrBin’s geographic area is limited now, Ernst said the company has preliminary plans to expand to several other urban areas. He hopes his company can help change the way people think about physical space, giving them the tools to use it most efficiently.

“We’re trying to craft a new concept in physical storage,” he said.

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