What started as a three-year commitment has turned into a decade-long job for Brenda Collins and John Vandermeer.
Collins and Vandermeer are resident managers of the new Arbutus Self Storage (1164 Franklins Gull Rd., Parksville). Arbutus Self Storage is owned in part by Glenn Noort, said Collins. She also said the Noort family also owns storage facilities in Duncan, Nanaimo and Comox.
The two started working as managers for self storage units in 2007 after seeing an ad in the paper for AA Mini Storage in Nanaimo, said Collins.
Their experience of running self storage facilities comes from their background in running a bar in Costa Rica, said Collins.
Although, Vandermeer joked, it was a lot less stressful with “no two o’clock in the morning stuff.”
“We had a bar and restaurant in Costa Rica, and when we got back, we had nothing to do and we saw the ad (for AA Mini Storage) in the paper,” said Vandermeer, adding that this job takes a bit of organizational skill, but they had to have that skill set with running a bar.
Collins agreed that running a self storage facility as opposed to a bar comes with a lot less stress, but that the two fields have had a lot of cross over.
“All our stuff running a bar certainly have crossed over into running a mini storage; dealing with people, dealing with the public and certainly accounting and administrative duties,” Collins said.
“We committed to three years, but they’re such a wonderful organization to work for, it’s 10 years later,” Collins said.
Collins said she and Vandermeer always wanted to live in Parksville, so when the Noort family decided to open a location in Parksville, Collins said they asked if they could transfer.
“Being that we know the program, we want to get it up and running for them right,” Collins said.
Collins said when the planning went into Arbutus Self Storage, which officially opened April 24, the owners wanted to keep it as natural looking as possible.
“When they started working on it, they took down the trees and whatnot, but saved something like 80 different trees in the area,” she said.
Collins said the facility is state of the art with in-floor heating and individual alarms for each unit. She also said there are cameras everywhere and she and Vandermeer live on site.
“It’s a very secure facility,” she said.
The units also have 10-foot doors that allow indoor RV and boat storage, as well as outside rigs to accommodate large RVs, Collins said. Collins also said units range in size from six-by-nine feet to 11-by-25 feet and in price from $110 to $333.
In the 10 years since Collins and Vandermeer have started working in the self storage business, Collins said the need for storage units has grown so much.
“Because of the housing market, people put their houses up for sale — pretty much all over the Island — and they sell so quickly, people are finding it difficult to find another place to buy or rent because the vacancy rate is low and there’s just for sale signs out there. They’re all sold signs, so people need to put their stuff somewhere.”
For more information on Arbutus Self Storage, visit www.arbutusselfstorage.ca or call 250-954-1996.