The Renter's Bent New to self storage and looking for solutions? Curious about this relatively modern trend in American life? Want to know what motivates the StorageFront team? StorageFront's blog is a helpful mix of tips and tales for renters, conjured up by our own diverse team of writers. Wed, 28 Sep 2016 21:30:45 +0000 en hourly 1 10 Storage Mistakes You’re Probably Making Wed, 28 Sep 2016 21:00:29 +0000 Krista Diamond All you have to do is put your stuff into your storage unit, lock it up and drive away, right? It’s so simple! While that’s technically true, there are still a number of mistakes—10 to be exact— that you might be making that could affect your belongings, your safety and your overall self storage experience. Here’s what you’re doing wrong:

1. Not Placing Expensive Items in the Back of Your Unit

Storage facilities have excellent security measures in place like 24 hour surveillance cameras, gated access and on-site management, but it never hurts to take a few steps of your own to protect your belongings in the rare event of a break-in. Placing your most expensive and irreplaceable items in the back of your unit will limit a burglar’s ability to make off with the good stuff, as they’ll most likely be in a hurry to grab whatever they see first.

2. Putting Moisture Sensitive Items on the Floor of Your Unit

If you’re storing something that you know will be totally destroyed by a little water, don’t place it directly on the floor of your unit. You never know if the person in the unit next to you is storing a fridge that hasn’t been defrosted or if that summer thunderstorm is going to turn into a flash flood. Buy a wood pallet to elevate your items, or place your more delicate belongings on top of those plastic storage containers or that beat up piece of furniture you don’t care about anyway.

3. Ignoring Facility Hours

A quick phone call or visit to your storage facility’s website before you go will eliminate the annoyance of getting there and finding yourself locked out. You might assume that most storage facilities can be accessed 24 hours a day, but that’s actually not a very common feature. While it might be tempting to contact on-site management after-hours and ask to be let in, take a moment to consider how you feel when you’re woken up in the middle of the night.

4. Forgetting to Update Your Contact Information

Got a new number? Moved to a new address? Tell your storage facility. If someone on staff needs to contact you about a missed payment or an issue with your unit, they won’t be able to if they don’t have your correct contact information. Like most of life’s problems, most self storage dilemmas are often solved pretty quickly with a little communication.

5. Not Taking Advantage of Online Bill-Pay

Quite possibly the best thing about being alive in 2016 is the ability to take care of business without ever having to put pants on. If your facility offers online bill-pay, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice by not adding it to the list of matters that you conduct from the comfort of your couch.

6. Tailgating Into the Property

But you’re a tenant! It doesn’t matter if you enter the facility by driving in behind someone else who just entered their gate code! Sorry to break it to you, but in addition to potentially causing damage to your vehicle, you might trigger something in the facility’s security system by doing so. You might not actually be a shady character, but tailgating to get into the property kind of makes you look like one.

7. Leaving Stuff Behind After You Move Out

Even if you’re leaving that antique table behind as a gift, the storage facility cannot accept it as one. Leaving items in your storage unit after you move out could result in a cleaning fee too, which is never fun. Instead of ditching your stuff, ask your facility manager about charities or recycling centers in the area that might accept your unwanted belongings.

8. Not Reporting Sketchy Behavior

Think there’s someone living in the storage unit next to yours? Noticed people hopping over the fence at night? Drop by the office and give the facility manager a heads up. You’ll be doing your fellow tenants a huge favor and looking out for your own safety as well.

9. Bringing Your Dog to the Facility

Obviously if it’s a service dog, this doesn’t apply. But if it’s just regular old Fido, you might want to reconsider. Even if you’re using outside, drive-up storage, you shouldn’t bring your fur baby. Other tenants might not love your dog as much as you do and because your storage facility is liable for any dog-related mishaps that could occur, they’d prefer you to leave him at home too.

10. Storing Dirty Items

We’re not talking dirty items as in those old hiking boots that are caked in mud, smelly and falling apart. We’re talking about the things that look clean enough but haven’t actually been washed or wiped down in months. Before you store anything, take the time to clean it. A tiny wine stain on a wedding dress can eat away at delicate lace, a child’s backpack with unseen crumbs at the bottom can attract ants. Take it from us, a little spot cleaning can make a huge difference.

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How to Create Extra Space in Your Tiny Dorm Room Mon, 26 Sep 2016 17:00:34 +0000 Krista Diamond If your first glimpse into a dorm room was through the lens of Instagram, a Pinterest board, or literally any teen comedy from the late 90’s, you were probably just the teeniest bit disappointed when you saw the real thing. Sitcoms and ads often depict dorm rooms as palatial spaces with ample sunlight and furniture that looks like it came straight from an Anthropologie catalogue. Where are those dorms? If you’re working with a 15×15 room, a single shared closet and a dresser that’s just as tiny as it is hideous, you might think that you’re doomed to four years of drowning in your own possessions—or worse, leaving them all with your parents. Fortunately, there’s hope. Don’t pick and choose between outfits when it comes time to pack for college. Follow these tips and bring them all.

Utilize the Space Under Your Bed

The most famous of all dorm room hacks has got to be the space under your bed. Get an extra few inches of storage space with bed risers like these ones that are probably actual magic because they come with built-in outlets so you can charge your phone while you check Facebook from bed. When it comes to deciding what you’ll keep under there, try to view it as a space for frequently used items rather than all of that junk you’ll forget about until it’s time to move out. A great way to do this is to buy an underbed box on wheels. It easily slides in and out, and you can even ditch the lid for easier access. Admittedly, the sight of a bunch of stuff under a raised bed isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world, so if it bugs you, buy a bed skirt. Options exist besides the frilly one at your grandmother’s house, we promise.

Look for Furniture That Does Double-Duty

If the industrial looking furniture provided by your college doesn’t exactly make you feel at home right away, you might want to consider sprucing your dorm up a bit with some of your own pieces. Try to choose items that also act as additional storage. A storage ottoman offers crucial extra seating and a place to keep clutter out of sight. You can find coffee tables, chairs and plenty of other types of furniture that perform the same function.

Use an Over-The-Door Shoe Organizer for More Than Just Shoes

Have a million shoes? An over-the-door shoe organizer can free up some serious closet space. But don’t count it out just because your shoe collection is only limited to a single pair of Converse. An over-the-door shoe organizer can also be used to keep t-shirts (roll them instead of folding them), makeup, hair styling tools, school supplies or anything else that fits.

Buy Cute Baskets to Wrangle Scattered Stuff

Because dorm rooms are so tiny, it’s important to put some thought into how you use the limited amount of storage space you’ve been provided with. As a result, all of those items that don’t belong in a certain category can seem impossible to organize. Instead of leaving them strewn about, buy a few baskets in your material and pattern of choice (Target has a selection that’s so insane you’re bound to find at least one you like). You can place a few on top of your refrigerator or microwave to keep non-perishable snacks in one place. You can put one on your desk to organize notebooks. You can keep one next to the door for purses or whatever other items you tend to toss somewhere as soon as you enter your room. Having a few cute baskets in a few key places won’t just create more storage space in your dorm; it’ll help keep it tidy with minimal effort on your part.

Consider Wall Shelving

Wall shelving might sound like something that requires a power drill and/or a hard hat, but it can actually be much, much simpler than that. Instead of looking for heavy duty shelving units, look for display shelves. They’re typically much easier to hang and are often much more attractive too. You can use them to keep essentials right alongside that framed picture of you and your friends. If you’re on the top bunk and don’t have access to a nightstand, you can use one to keep your alarm clock, phone and that book you like to read before you go to sleep all within arm’s reach.

Get a Portable Closet

To preface this, we just want to remind you that before purchasing furniture, making major decorating moves or doing a little feng shui in your dorm, you should always get the go-ahead from your roomie. One such example is a portable closet or wardrobe. After all, if you’re unhappy with that cramped closet, why not just bring your own? A portable closet doesn’t have to be expensive or heavy either. It can be cheap and simple or so sleek and stylish you’ll want to keep it long past college. If you’ve got a few feet of space that you don’t mind sacrificing, you can have a whole extra closet. Instant game-changer.

Rent a Storage Unit

Sometimes in the battle for making every single thing you own fit into a closet-sized room, the time comes to admit defeat. If that happens, you’ll be pleased to learn that finding a storage unit is not only easy to do online, it’s cheaper than you might think thanks to student specials and low rates on smaller units. Best of all, leases are typically month-to-month, meaning that you’ll never feel like you’re locked into paying for your storage unit should you no longer need it. Other features like online bill-pay and facilities that offer moving supplies make the entire process seamless. Can you imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to keep your smelly athletic equipment in your closet all semester? Rent a storage unit and we promise that your dorm room—and we’re guessing your roommate—will thank you.

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Funny Fridays: Playoff Memorabilia by Kelly Kamowski Fri, 23 Sep 2016 16:07:35 +0000 GuestBlogger sports Funny Fridays: Playoff Memorabilia by Kelly Kamowski

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Do You Need Climate Control? Tue, 20 Sep 2016 22:00:03 +0000 Jon Fesmire Of all the aspects of self storage, climate control may be the most complicated. Do you need it in your area? Which belongings are fine without climate control, and which require it regardless of where you live? You may be surprised by some items that need it.

Climate control keeps your possessions within a narrow, comfortable temperature range with an ideal level of humidity, about 55%, year-round.

Let this step-by-step guide help you determine whether you should get a climate controlled unit or not.

1. Determine if Humidity Necessitates Climate Control

Hot, humid summers are common throughout the U.S., and some areas get high humidity throughout the year. In such climates, items in ordinary storage units are prone to mold, mildew, and rust. Pests like rodents and bugs also thrive in such environments. While storage facilities strive to keep pests to a minimum, sometimes they still find their way into storage units.

In a humid area, climate control protects against all these issues.

2. Figure out if Your Possessions are Heat Sensitive

If the weather in your area drops below 32 degrees, or soars over 90, you may need climate control. This is especially true in areas where winters get below freezing and summer temperatures skyrocket.

What items can suffer damage at low or high temperatures? Antiques, art, vehicles, electronics, books, clothing, leather, appliances, scrapbooks, CDs and other media, glass, plastics, wine, photographs, and metal. Types of damage include wood cracking, mold covering books and clothing, metals rusting, and CDs, records, and other plastic items warping. Film, photographs, and slides already degrade over time. Heat and humidity speed up that process.

If weather in your area reaches such temperatures, climate control is a good idea. If your area also has high humidity when it gets hot, it becomes a necessity.

3. Decide How Long You Will Need Storage

The longer you keep items in storage in the above conditions, without climate control, the more they will degrade. If weather and temperature conditions are mild, perhaps getting above 90 for a day or two with low humidity, and you plan to store your items for a month, then you may not need climate control. If you plan to store long term, it may be a worthwhile investment.

4. Consider the Value of Your Items

Are you storing family heirlooms? A wedding dress to hand down to your daughter? Fine art? An old comic book collection? If you have such precious items and want to ensure their quality for years to come, get a unit with climate control.

5. Think About Your Comfort

Many of us rent a storage unit and go to it only occasionally. Others visit often to swap goods in or out. You may use it to store your off-season clothes, or you may use it for your business, as a place to keep your inventory.

If you are going to visit your self storage unit very often, or for extended periods when you do visit, then climate control can make it comfortable for you, too. No one likes working in the heat or in below freezing temperatures. Just ask anyone who has had to shovel snow, or who has done yard work on a hot day. In such a case, you should consider getting a climate controlled unit to make your work more pleasant.

A climate controlled unit generally rents for between 30% and 50% more than a standard unit of the same size. In environments where climate control is a necessity, the extra expense is worthwhile.

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Just Enough Space: The Rise of Micro-housing Mon, 19 Sep 2016 20:31:42 +0000 Jon Fesmire When people talk about micro-housing, usually they mean micro-apartments, also called micro-flats. Micro-houses also exist, though they are less common. We’ll delve into both, and will use the word “micro-housing” interchangeably for the concept of limited-space housing.

Micro-apartments typically range from about 150 sq ft to 350 sq feet. They may be multi-room dwellings with small rooms, or single-room accommodations with a small, separate bathroom.

The Upsurge in Micro-housing

Many large cities, like Seattle and New York, are seeing an increase in residents. The lure of booming business in such areas draws people in, but also raises the price of existing housing. As such, there is a demand for affordable housing.

Developers want their micro-apartments to be attractive to potential renters. Some have large windows and high ceilings, making them seem larger inside. Areas can easily have multiple functions as well. For example, the couch may fold to become a futon bed. The coffee table may rotate upward to become a dinner table for two.

The Controversy

Though the micro-housing market continues to grow, it has its share of controversy.

For example, residents of neighborhoods where micro-apartments are being developed have legitimate concerns about parking spaces, new tenant involvement in the community, and where all the trash will go. Often micro-housing units do not require parking spaces.

Cities must balance the need for affordable housing with existing regulations. New York has a law forbidding the construction of apartments smaller than 400 square feet, but Mayor Bloomberg waived this rule for a complex called East Carmel Place, where apartments are between 260 and 360 square feet.

In an attempt to ensure better accommodations for residents, Seattle, where micro-apartments are called “apodments,” created regulations after this new boom started. Micro-apartments must now be a minimum of 220 square feet and shared kitchens are allowed only in certain areas.

Shared kitchens? Yes, Seattle has a number of congregate residences, which are micro-apartments with a dorm-style layout, that include a shared kitchen and perhaps a shared common area.

Who Should Live in Micro-housing

Can you see yourself living in micro-housing? That depends on who you are. This solution seems best for young singles working their way up in a company. For those singles who just graduated college, the dorm-like environment may feel comfortable and familiar. They can save money on rent and, after a few years, move into a larger place.

Many in their thirties and older may want to avoid micro-housing—unless they really like small spaces. While turning your couch into a bed or flipping down a table from inside the wall may seem charming at first, the extra grind can become old quickly.

Of course, the size of the micro-housing unit makes a difference. Are we talking about a 360 square foot unit, or a 60 square foot house? This video shows the difficulties several couples had trying out a very small micro-house, although the single owner seemed to love her little home.

Micro-housing and Storage

A micro-apartment is by definition a small space. Keeping some of your possessions in self storage can free much of that space up.

There’s a good chance that if you’re moving into a micro-apartment to make your start in a new city, you will need a self storage unit to keep many of your possessions safe. However, you should consider the price of storage, how long you think you’ll need it for, and the value of your possessions. You can also consider selling or donating items that you can replace later, and renting a smaller unit for your more valuable items. That includes items of monetary and sentimental value, like your photography albums or that comfortable couch that belonged to your grandparents.

Whether you’re happy living for months or years in a micro-home, and whether you need storage short term or long term, both can be a part of making your life easier and affordable.

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The 10 Best Under the Radar Cities For Millennials Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:00:32 +0000 Krista Diamond It goes like this: You decide to move to Portland, Brooklyn, Austin, San Francisco or some other city that’s full of great jobs, interesting people and a million places to drink craft cocktails, discover new music and bask in each other’s awesomeness. On paper, it seems like an oasis of lush urban parks, employers who let you bring your dog to the office and indie coffee shops that already feel like home. But then you get there and discover that your new city’s golden age is already over. The job market is drying up, housing is expensive and people on the street have developed a habit of staring off wistfully into the distance and saying, “Man, I remember when this place was cool.”

If you’d like to be the one to get there first for a change, and you’d like the “there” in question to have affordable housing, a steady job market and a few locally owned brunch spots that you can ride your bike to, look to one of these 10 cities for a chance at the millennial dream.

San Antonio, Texas

In Austin, you need to work 111 hours a week in order to afford a two bedroom apartment. If you head just an hour south to San Antonio, that same apartment will cost you around $950 a month. In addition to that, the city’s low population density means that you can have a big backyard or at least classic hill country vistas rather than an intimate view of your neighbor’s kitchen. You can nestle into an urban bungalow or rent a house that feels like it’s in the country but is actually just a short drive from downtown thanks to an average commute time of 25 minutes. And speaking of downtown, San Antonio’s mission-style architecture is totally Instagram-worthy, and its River Walk is the perfect place to bar hop via water taxi or enjoy some great barbeque in an open-air setting. If San Antonio’s music scene, Tex-Mex cuisine, low unemployment rate and reasonable proximity to the beach (a two hour drive) don’t capture your heart, the Lone Star charm of the community is sure to. Some people might call San Antonio the new Austin, but it’s so much more than that.

Louisville, Kentucky

It’s the home of the most exciting two minutes in sports, but did you also know that Louisville is home to a huge urban forest, a thriving downtown and a ton of whiskey (95% of the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky)? We’ll let that last fact sink in for a moment. Besides drinking your portion of the 120,000 mint juleps that are consumed in a two day period during the Kentucky Derby, you can take part in the goings on of an up-and-coming neighborhood like NuLu which is home to tons of young professionals, fun flea markets, and even a bar in a former church. You can also explore one of the largest Victorian neighborhoods in the country, along with art galleries, a 100 mile trail system and even a massive man made cavern beneath the city. If you’re outdoorsy, you’ll find tons of hiking, rock climbing and kayaking nearby. If you’re a foodie, you’ll find an incredible culinary scene. Louisville housing rates are 23% lower than the national average and crime rates are low, so wherever you choose to live, and whichever local bourbon you choose to imbibe in (We recommend Copper and Kings and Peerless for starters.) you’ll enjoy southern hospitality with a dash of hipster vibes.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

For some reason, when most millennials look for a new city to call home, they tend to go all manifest destiny and head west. One glance at Portsmouth is reason enough to choose east instead. Setting foot in the seaside city feels like stepping back in time—minus the lack of electricity and weird Pilgrim outfits. Portsmouth is equidistant from Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine, (a quick train ride in either direction) but less expensive and less crowded than both. It’s an intellectual hub and an active port which means fresh seafood and local diners where you might find yourself sitting in between a professor and a lobsterman. With just 21,000 people, Portsmouth has all the sophistication of a much larger city with the community of a small town. Additionally, Portsmouth’s famously low unemployment rate and high median income make it a veritable haven for young professionals. But don’t think that Portsmouth is all work and no play. The city’s cobblestone streets and brick buildings lend an air of discovery around every corner. Take a stroll along the Piscataqua River, leaf through a novel while sipping a cocktail at Book and Bar, explore art galleries, head out on a late-night harbor cruise and then meet friends for a 3am meal at the quirky Friendly Toast.  It may be the third oldest city in the country, but Portsmouth is poised to put the New in New Hampshire.

Port Angeles, Washington

Yes, you first heard about Port Angeles in the Twilight movie, but trust us, it’s much cooler than that. The sleepy city once played a key role in the logging industry, but has since reinvented itself as a tourist destination/mecca of adventure. If you like nature, you’ll love living in Port Angeles. The city sits at the gates of Olympic National Park, home of mountain goats and glacial lakes so turquoise you’ll swear you’re hallucinating. Step outside your door in Port Angeles and you’ll be just steps away from paddling the foggy coastline, exploring tide pools, camping on the beach, climbing jagged peaks and soaking in natural hot springs once the day is through. The cost of living is low, and the sense of community is strong. You’ll find cozy coffee shops, restaurants like the Next Door Gastropub that pride themselves in using local ingredients, plenty of cultural events and one seriously beautiful lavender farm. Because Port Angeles is situated in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, it’s actually significantly less rainy than other parts of the state and gets a whopping 300 days of sunshine. That’s 300 days where you can hike, kayak, and even hop on a ferry to Canada just because you feel like it.

Henderson, Nevada

Remember your spring break trip to Las Vegas? While you were club hopping and champagne popping, you probably weren’t thinking, “Hey, this is a place where I could really see myself settling down.” Amidst the slot machines and strip clubs, it’s kind of hard to see Las Vegas as a place where people actually live. That’s why it’s so easy to overlook the nearby city of Henderson. Located just 15 minutes east of The Strip, Henderson offers great views of Las Vegas and easy access to the party without the chaos that comes with living inside of it. The weather is warm and sunny and the streets are lined with palm trees. For fans of nearby California, it’s a lot like living the SoCal life without the price tag. The cost of living is low and you’ll have your choice of 27 master-planned communities to call home along with 80 miles of trails, bike lanes and the 320 acre Lake Las Vegas, a man made lake where you can paddleboard, swim or drink and dine by the water. Nightlife offerings along the historic downtown stretch of Water Street give the city a unique character that you just won’t find at the big casinos down the road. Henderson already offers a short commute to Las Vegas, walkability, and an increased focus on catering to young renters, but one of the most pleasant surprises of all is the fact that unlike its big city neighbor, it’s consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in America.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls just might be one of the greatest towns you’ve never heard of. Its population increased by 22% between 2000 and 2010 and is still on the rise, making it the 47th fastest growing city in America. And it’s not just the number of residents that’s looking up for Sioux Falls. There’s a high number of white collar job opportunities (Wells Fargo and Capital One both have offices in town) thanks to a lack of state income tax. Add in a low unemployment rate and low cost of living and you’ve got a recipe for easy living. Located on the banks of the Big Sioux River, you can see the namesake falls from a downtown park. There’s also a 16 mile multi-use path if you love pedaling or walking to work. And if you prefer commuting by car, you’ll like the fact that Sioux Falls is one of the safest driving cities in the country—a welcome relief if you’ve lived in more well-known millennial driven cities like Los Angeles. Because Sioux Falls makes up 29% of the state’s population, if you live there, there’s a feeling that you’re at the center of the universe. Cultural opportunities like a revitalized art scene, more than 650 restaurants and the annual Downtown Riverfest contribute to that feeling. Even if you’re not sold on Sioux Falls quite yet, plans are in the works to keep the positive changes coming without sacrificing local charm, making this city one to watch.

Sacramento, California

It’s a little strange that the state capital is such an unsung hero. Tell people you’re moving to California and they’ll assume you’re talking about Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Diego. However, it turns out that Sacramento actually exemplifies many of the things that draw people to the Golden State in the first place. The city boasts sunny weather, one of the best urban forests in the world, a robust economy, midcentury modern homes and a surprisingly great wine scene. Whether you feel like playing tourist and taking in the history of Old Sacramento, kayaking the Sacramento or American River, or getting dolled up for a night out in Midtown amongst the bright young things who flock from wine bars to dive bars, there’s always something to do in Sactown (you don’t have to call it that). And if you’re game for a weekend away, you can take advantage of Sacramento’s prime location between Lake Tahoe and the Pacific Ocean. Sacramento may have a lot of California history, but over the past few years, local business and culinary efforts have breathed some new energy into town. Best of all? Rent prices are cheap compared to the rest of the state. You can find a one bedroom in a desirable Sacramento neighborhood for around $1000 a month. Try doing that in San Francisco.

Des Moines, Iowa

It’s called the Silicon Prairie for a reason. If you want to work in tech but don’t want to live somewhere that’s overpriced and overcrowded, look to Des Moines. The Iowa town is a truly special place that pairs Midwestern kindness with an emerging tech scene. Outside of tech, if you’re interested in working in the insurance industry, education or media, the job market can offer you a lot of opportunities. The population has increased by 7.4% since 2010 but rent remains cheap (one bedroom apartments go for about $800 a month).  There are a lot of awesome neighborhoods, and thanks to a 19.2 minute average commute, great public transportation and an emphasis on biking to work, it’s possible to live anywhere and still be a part of the action. The trendy East Village is especially hot right now. There you’ll find speakeasies, antique shops and tony little bistros. Throughout the city, there’s a diverse range of theater, opera and a noteworthy jazz scene including the long-anticipated jazz club Noce, that hosts flapper-style soirees along with local and national acts. In the summer, there’s Jazz in July, an annual event that takes place when the weather is warm and the air is ripe for dancing outside. Oh, and don’t forget about the Iowa State Fair. There’s a reason it appears in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Seeing fried butter is believing.

Missoula, Montana

Author Norman Maclean once said, “The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.” The state’s second largest city is part university town and part outdoorsy paradise. Surrounded by more than 60,000 acres of wilderness, the city of about 70,000 is the kind of place where you can fish for trout all day and then head downtown for a nice meal and a book signing at one of many esteemed local book shops. In the summer, you can tube the Clark Fork River, explore the Bob Marshall Wilderness or make the trip to Glacier National Park. If you’re more of a beer drinker than a mountaineer, head to Big Sky Brewing and experience the famous Moose Drool Brown Ale. Paired with the brewery’s signature outdoor summer concert series, it’s a match made in Montana heaven. In the winter, the weather is milder than other parts of the state, but still perfect for skiing, snowshoeing and seeking out wildlife. And if you love sports, football season at the University of Montana is such a big deal you’ll forget it’s not the NFL. When it comes to western cities where you can hike, ski, drink beer and still get dressed up occasionally, it’s easy to focus on Colorado, but Missoula is not only more beautiful, more laid back and less pretentious, it’s quite possibly the best kept secret in the mountains. Get there before everybody else does.

Laramie, Wyoming

You already know about Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado, but take a drive north and just over the border you’ll find a cowboy town where you can enjoy mountain life without feeling disconnected from the rest of the world. Laramie, a city of 30,000 people, is poised at 7,165 between the Snowy Range, the Laramie Range and offers endless possibilities for adventure in either direction. Best of all, you don’t have to choose between your weekend camping trip and your Friday night out on the town. Unlike the nearby capital of Cheyenne, which is often maligned as uneventful, Laramie is a young town that’s bustling with events, bars, restaurants and the state’s only university. If you like art, check out the university’s incredible art museum, an architectural gem in its own right. The historic downtown looks so much like an old western that you’ll consider investing in a pair of cowboy boots. Of course, if you prefer starlight to city lights, grab a few pointers (and some gear) from the pros at downtown’s Cross Country Connection and head to nearby Vedauwoo in the Medicine Bow National Forest for some of the best rock climbing in the country. With Denver just 130 miles away, it’s a wonder that Laramie feels like such a true western outpost. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Funny Fridays: The Nose Knows by Kelly Kamowski Fri, 16 Sep 2016 15:17:25 +0000 GuestBlogger doggy Funny Fridays: The Nose Knows by Kelly Kamowski

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The Super Guide to Storing Comic Books Wed, 14 Sep 2016 17:00:34 +0000 Jon Fesmire Comic books have gone from entertainment for kids—that many adults didn’t approve of—to much more mainstream, with titles for all ages and tastes. Comics have even won major awards. In 1988, Watchmen by Alan Moore won the Eisner award for Best Writer and the Hugo Award for Other Forms. Maus by Art Spiegleman won a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, and the 1992 American Book Award. In 2008, my personal favorite series of all time, Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan, won the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series.

Comics are hugely popular today, but they are also delicate. You can’t pile up a bunch of comics, as with books, and not expect them to slide out from each other and take damage. A comic book forgotten on the floor is doomed to tearing.

How do you keep your collection in great condition? It’s probably easier than you think, and not expensive.

If you store your comic books as you would ordinary books or paper files, you’re going to end up with damaged comics. Fortunately, there’s a simple system for keeping yours in great shape for years, whether you keep them at home or in a storage unit. It’s all about the three B’s: bags, boards, and boxes.


When it comes to the three B’s, we’re not talking about just any. You’ll get your bags, boards, and boxes at a comic book shop or online.

Comic book bags are flat, clear plastic sheaths that perfectly fit the standard comic book size of 6.624” by 10.25”. There is a flap on top to fold over the comic and completely protect it. They give the comic book extra protection against damage, spills, and dirt.

Comic books have varied in size over the years, so make sure you use the right sized bags and boards depending on the age the comic was from. The Golden Age lasted from 1934 to 1955, the Silver Age from 1956 to 1969, the Bronze Age from 1970 to 1979, and the Current Age from 1980 to now. Any new comics you get, unless a specialty item, will use Current Age bags and boards.


Put a comic in a proper bag and you give it extra protection. Add a backing board, and you protect its structure. Comic boards are thin, white pieces of sturdy cardboard with the same height and width of a comic book. The board goes into the bag as well, behind the comic book.


These are made of corrugated cardboard, are 11” tall by 7 ¾” wide, on the inside, with varying depth, depending on the size you get. A 20” deep box holds up to 250 comic books. Each box also comes with a lid, and hand-holds openings on the side for lifting. Comics stack upright, somewhat like files in a file cabinet, making it easy to flip through them to find what you’re looking for.

Putting Your Comics Away

You’ll find a variety of tips on how to properly bag and board a comic book. Here are a few suggestions. Keep in mind that the flap is on the top front of the comic book bag and folds over to the back, not the other way around.

  • Put the board in the bag first, then put the comic in, in front of the board, facing forward. Fold the bag flap over and tape it to the back of the bag. The problem with this is that the tape can later snag on the comic and cause damage. To avoid this, try one the solutions below.

  • Put the board in the bag, then the comic, as above. Fold the bag flap into the top of the bag, behind the board.

  • My favorite method is this. Put the comic book into the bag first, then fold the flap into the bag, behind the comic. Last, slip the board in through the opening behind the folded flap and the back of the bag. This keeps the flap in place and keeps the comic snug.

Ready for Storage

With your comics safely in their bags, boards, and proper boxes, you’re ready to store them! If you put them in a storage unit and you live in an area prone to humidity, get a unit with climate control. This feature keeps the temperature and humidity consistent in your unit year-round, creating an idea storage environment for nearly all your possessions. The paper comics are printed on is sensitive to extremes in weather. Properly protected comics can stay in great shape for decades, so follow these tips, and you’ll enjoy your favorite adventures for years to come.

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Funny Fridays: Decision 2016 by Kelly Kamowski Fri, 09 Sep 2016 14:01:51 +0000 GuestBlogger thumb StoreLocaldumpster 1 1024 Funny Fridays: Decision 2016 by Kelly Kamowski

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4 Uses for a Prefab Barn or Storage Shed Thu, 08 Sep 2016 17:00:08 +0000 Jon Fesmire The backyard storage shed has a reputation for being made of metal, and is usually intended for storing garden tools, sports equipment, or other household items one may not need all the time. While that does fall into the purview of what such backyard, detached buildings are for, there are other styles and uses you may not have considered.

Consider this scenario. You already have a self storage unit, and you keep your home clean and simple. However, for whatever reason, you need an extra room. Putting more things in storage isn’t an option. Well, if you own a house and have a backyard, a detached room might be.

Storage sheds and prefabricated barns come in a variety of sizes, and can be metal or wood. Let’s delve into the many purposes they can serve.

The Detached Bedroom

You love your home, and have a big backyard, but you’ve gained a new adult household member. Perhaps two of your kids share a room, and the older child is ready for the responsibility of a room separated from the house.

A two-story prefab barn might be the ideal solution. Of course, we’re not talking about a barn you might see on a farm, but a smaller, bedroom-sized building. A prefab barn can be quite attractive as well, like a small, well-built house. Your young-adult college student can have his or her own space to study, set her own hours, and have a few friends over, without having to leave home just yet.

The Music Studio

During my college years, I sang in a rock band. The other members were my brother on guitar, and two of our best friends, also brothers, on bass and drums. Our friends lived in the country a few miles from the edge of town, so we rehearsed in their living room most of the time. Their parents wanted to support us, but it was a bit much for them having us rock out in the living room.

Since they had a lot of property and neighbors were spaced far apart, they set up a prefab barn on their property. It wasn’t fancy but it was ours. They installed electricity, we soundproofed the walls, and we were able to practice without sounding too loud to the outside world.

I would recommend this to any band in the same situation. Even if you rehearse in an urban area, so long as your neighbors are okay with some noise–though muted–and you rehearse during the day, it’s fantastic having a space just for your band.

For sound insulation, we used egg crate foam over all the walls. We installed carpet. We had our amps against the far wall, a drum set in one corner, and so on. There was just one “window” up high, a grate that let in fresh air. Depending on where you live, with a similar set-up, you may want to install an AC unit in such a spot. We had fun rehearsing, writing songs, and recording, and it gave my friends’ parents extra peace in their house.

The Media Room

Who doesn’t like the idea of a movie theater at home? How about a movie theater that doubles as a large-screen game room? Perhaps with a microwave or even popcorn machine in the corner and a fridge for sodas?

Depending on your budget you could use a relatively small or large building. In this case, I suggest a room with a door in one side and few windows. Perhaps just one window in the back, over which you could hang a dark cloth, would be best, especially for movie viewing. You could have either a large television or a screen and projector, and comfortable couches or chairs facing it. You can set up a simple stereo sound system, or something more complex.

For movie night, put on a Blu-ray, pop some popcorn, grab a drink, and sit down with your friends to enjoy or roast the film. On game night, put in your favorite console game and play there with friends, or over the Internet.

The Detached Office

Perhaps you work from home, or would like to. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do so in quiet when everyone else is home?

Whether you telecommute, are an artist, a maker (someone who creates jewelry, costume pieces, and the like), or a writer, it’s wonderful to have a specific place where you ply your craft, a place that signals to your mind that it’s time to get creative.

Here, again, pick a large shed, or a barn that works for you. You may need one just large enough for your desk, computer, and a shelf or two, or you might want one as large as a bedroom. If you’re a jeweler or other maker, you’ll need room for your supplies, your tools, and plenty of work space. If you’re an artist, have room for your art materials, canvases, and easels.

For this sort of arrangement, unlike for the band studio or entertainment room, I recommend having a window with a nice view. This may be of the yard, or the house. As such, you may want to do some landscaping on the yard, but that’s a topic for another article.

The idea here is to create a space that is for your work only, and make that space pleasant so you will enjoy your time there and get a lot done. Again, if you’re in a warm climate, you will probably want to install an AC unit.

Having a separate building on your property, in the form of a large wooden shed or prefab barn, feels great. There’s a certain excitement when it comes to stepping into a separate room like this, a sense of privacy, peace, and possibilities. I hope the suggestions here inspire you.

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