This Chicago storage startup wants to be a closet extension for millennials

by Michael Hines
August 16, 2017

The first thing you need to know about Chicago storage startup Blue Crates is that it’s not really in the self-storage business. At least, not in the traditional sense.

“I kind of look at storage as a four-letter word. I believe this is not truly about storing stuff. This is about your lifestyle,” said CEO Michael Walker.

Walker, who co-founded Blue Crates with his brother Matthew, sees his company as offering urbanites a “closet extension.” Users order crates online which are then delivered to their home. Once packed, Blue Crates takes them off to a secure storage facility. The company also offers a moving service with a similar model, except that the crates are delivered to your new place instead of stored.

A standard crate can hold about two dresser drawers worth of clothes while a wardrobe can fit either 20 suits and dresses or 10 winter coats. Each box costs $7.50 a month, with wardrobes running $15.50. Oversized storage for items such as bicycles costs $10.00 a month.

While oversized items are stored, larger furniture is not generally accepted. This is partly due to Blue Crates wanting to separate itself from competitors like Clutter, which recently expanded to Chicago this summer.

“There’s a line of demarcation between storing furniture and self-storage as opposed to offering something that is about your lifestyle and making it easier for the masses to live,” Walker said. “At Blue Crates’ price point, I believe there’s a lot of utility gained in having just one of our crates.”

Blue Crates has seen steady growth in Chicago thanks to both word of mouth and agreements with large apartment buildings. It’s been able to manage this growth thanks to a partnership with Best Courier & Delivery Service. Best Courier handles all of Blue Crates’ logistics and also recently invested in the startup.

Blue Crates has 14 full-time employees and 50 delivery trucks at its disposal. Its recent cash infusion and interest from building partners has the Walker brothers thinking of expansion plans.

“Our goal is to expand throughout the Midwest. Some of our building partners have expressed interest in having the service in some of their buildings in LA, Atlanta and San Francisco,” said Walker. “So there’s real potential for us to start expanding into other markets, likely to our building partners first and then the general public soon after.”


Image via social media.

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