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Monday, May 20, 2024

Limited summer storage options for Middlebury students

Smart Move storage in Middlebury, one of the self-storage options students use.
Smart Move storage in Middlebury, one of the self-storage options students use.

As the end of the spring semester nears, many students are beginning to think about how and where to store their belongings for the summer. While some items will be left behind or sorted into recycling bins, many students will load their belongings up into cars and haul them home for the summer months. But for students who fly home, take the train or otherwise don't have the ability to transport the contents of their rooms, suites or small houses, the process of finding available and affordable summer storage options can be time consuming.

Middlebury currently requires students to move all of their belongings out of their dorms at the end of the spring term. While the college itself does not offer on-campus storage for students, the student-run company Middlebury Campus Storage (MCS) picks up students' items at the end of the spring term, stores them in an off-campus facility for the summer months, and drops them back off on campus at the start of the fall term. MCS employs a unique system in which students pay for storage on a per item basis.

“This ensures that customers only pay for what they need and has turned out to be a great storage solution for many students,” Tyler Little ’23, who is in charge of MCS’s on-campus organization and execution, wrote in an email to The Campus.

MCS was founded 20 years ago by Middlebury students. In the spring of 2022, when Little was the company’s CEO, it was acquired by Greenbox Storage, a company initially founded by students at Dartmouth College. Greenbox now manages storage at 19 colleges and universities around the country. It partners with entrepreneurial students such as Little, who are known as “Campus Co-Founders.”

According to Little, MCS had a relationship with Greenbox for several years before deciding to officially join the Greenbox family last year.

“Greenbox has helped us streamline many of our back-end operations,” Little wrote of the changes made to MCS upon acquisition by Greenbox.

MCS partners with a local large-scale storage and shipping company that transports student items to an off-site warehouse to store them.

“[MCS is] pretty easy but kinda expensive,” Alex Scott-Hansen ’25 told The Campus of the service.

It currently costs $15 to reserve space on MCS’s website, while storage prices range from $15/month for a backpack-sized piece of luggage to $45/month to store a futon. The summer storage term for Middlebury is four months, per the company’s website.

Vikram Vasan ’25, who used MCS last summer, said he does not plan on using the service again this year. “The price went up and it is probably just easier to ask a friend who drives to campus if they can bring a bag to their house and store it for me over the summer,” Vasan said.

Other students may choose to use independent private storage options in the area. However, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, those units have been short in supply in Vermont, according to reporting from WCAX 3.

“There was a mad rush to find off-campus storage when the pandemic hit Vermont, and [the facility I use] was one of the few with spare units,” Blaise Siefer ’23.5, who rents a space at Smart Move Storage with a few friends, told The Campus.

Siefer and his friends rent the space year-round. Siefer cited the sheer number of things they have to store relative to the average dorm room size and fears of losing the space as reasons for their continuous rental.

“We’re scared of giving up the space — we understand that competition for storage units is steep and we wouldn’t want to jeopardize losing out on a unit that has worked really well for us,” Siefer wrote.

Siefer added that even finding an initial storage space was no easy task, requiring a lot of phone calls and emails, but worth it in the end.

Overall, according to Little, students are increasingly using MCS, which he said he attributes to their item-based pricing model. “We’ve seen a huge resurgence in student use of MCS post-Covid,” Little told The Campus.

MCS uses many student employees to accomplish the labor-intensive collection and distribution processes at the beginning and end of each year.

“Picking up and dropping off all of the items stored with us is a very demanding process, and we couldn’t be more grateful for all of our student employees that help make this happen,” Little wrote.

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Although MCS is a private, student-run company, it does have a professional relationship with the college administration. “The last few days of the semester tend to be a very busy time for many college departments like Facilities Services and Public Safety, so we always orchestrate with them to ensure we aren’t disrupting any of their year-end activities like Commencement preparation,” Little added.

“It was a pain to find storage space, but we’re so glad we did,” Siefer said, reflecting the sentiments of many students, hard at work searching for summer storage.