Lakewood resident Kathy Moore is one of the many people in Jefferson County fortunate enough to have large lots of land as part of their property. But earlier this year she found herself between jobs …
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Lakewood resident Kathy Moore is one of the many people in Jefferson County fortunate enough to have large lots of land as part of their property. But earlier this year she found herself between jobs and in search of a way to make some money.
And that’s where the new online platform STOW IT come in.
“I have a great big yard, and my landlord suggested renting out the yard space for vehicle storage or something like that,” Moore said. “I wasn’t sure how to go about it, but STOW IT helped me get it all arranged.”
Founded by Carmelo Mannino, Dillon Eldridge, and Devin Eldridge, the platform connects people with large empty spaces, from vacant land to garages and even barns, with those who want to store their vehicle, whether it’s a car, trailer, boat or any other.
Run out of Fort Collins, the site has seen participants moving south in increasingly large numbers, Mannino said. Residents in cities like Lakewood and Wheat Ridge are taking advantage.
“For the property owner, there’s practically no work, especially since we handle all the billing and collecting,” Mannino explained. “We leave the pricing of the rental and how much access the renter has to their vehicle up to the property owner.”
STOW IT requires at least a 30 day-rental and handles the screening of potential renters. Since its creation a little more than a year ago, the company has been growing 30 to 50 percent each month, Mannino explained.
Which is not surprising, as more and more people are looking for storage space. According to Lakewood’s Planning Development Assistant Division Manager Paul Rice, vertical storage buildings have become popular options for people.
The city of Lakewood wants to integrate these kinds of buildings into the community, so by zoning ordinance they are required to have some kind of retail or office space on the ground level. The projects must also be approved by planning commission, which considers factors like overlapping service areas when making their decision.
“We’re seeing an increased demand for storage businesses because people are moving into smaller homes, and they need a place to put some of their things,” Rice said. “People who run businesses out of their homes also make use of storage spaces because they need a place to store their merchandise. These kinds of businesses are really cash cows.”
But most storage companies don’t offer a lot of room for vehicles, and access and costs can be prohibitive.
“Our thought is extra space can be used as a truly passive income source, with us handling most off the technical side,” Mannino said. “And we’re safer than the alternatives, like relying on Craigslist.”
Moore has been using STOW IT since February, and said it’s been an easy process for all involved.
“I’ve got it situated so my renter doesn’t have to even come into my yard to get their vehicle,” she said. “It’s easy to do long-term or temporary rentals depending on what you want. It’s all very easy to do.”
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