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    On the Job

    He stores stuff without the hassles

    Brij Patel, co-founder of Fetch Storage in Boston. His firm’s storage rates start at $1 per cubic foot per month.
    Lane Turner/Globe Staff
    Brij Patel, co-founder of Fetch Storage in Boston. His firm’s storage rates start at $1 per cubic foot per month.

    More than 10,000 items are stashed away at Fetch Storage, including holiday decorations, winter sweaters, ski gear, furniture, office equipment, legal documents — even back issues of newspapers. But this isn’t like the conventional self-storage units that have been popping up all over the United States, growing to a $24 billion industry. Brij Patel, 33, a co-founder at the Boston-based company, said his motto is “Never visit a self-storage unit again.” He offers “full-service” storage — picking up and delivering items so there is no need to rent a van for bulky items. Users can “fetch” individual pieces any time, and have them delivered to their doorstep.

    Why do Americans crave all this storage space when they apparently lived fine without it in the past?

    There’s no single driver for the increase in storage over the last 10 years. We’re living in larger homes and can afford to have more stuff, and storage helps with the transition of those so-called “life events” — moving, marrying or divorcing, downsizing, or dealing with a death.

    How does Fetch work?

    I like to compare Fetch with traditional self-storage units, which might be too big or too small, and you often can’t easily access one certain item because it requires a trip to an often dusty and remote facility. Fetch, by contrast, charges only for the space you use, whether it’s just one box or an entire house of belongings. You can rent or buy boxes or crates from us and we’ll deliver them directly to you. We whisk away your stuff to a safe, temperature controlled warehouse, and then you can just call for pickup or delivery of any item. Unlike other facilities, there are no hidden fees; storage starts at $1 per cubic foot per month.

    There’s a tech aspect to Fetch as well, right?


    What gets me really excited about the future of storage is that there’s all this stuff sitting in thousands of storage facilities around the country but no one’s really tracking what’s coming in and going out. Since Fetch inventories each item, we have some basic info about what’s being stored, and we are working on an inventory system where customers will be able to tag and then quickly search what they have, using keywords and maybe even photos. All this info and data will empower customers to make much better storage decisions, instead of forgetting about all the stuff they’ve accumulated. And instead of promoting hoarding, this accessibility promotes a sharing community, where users can maybe borrow items from one another or ask for charity donations.

    Do you have anything in

    storage yourself?

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    I have a couple of unique pieces of furniture in storage, including handmade teak carved coffee tables from India and an antique Chinese sideboard. I’m saving them for a different stage in my life.

    Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at cindy@cindyatoji.