Growth Trends

This week in Slate, Tom Vanderbilt writes about the rise in personal mini-storage units in one of those far-reaching cultural essays inevitably headlined “[fill in the blank] Nation.”

Vanderbilt posits a number of explanations for the rise in mini-storage in Self-Storage Nation (rising consumerism, increased mobility, eBay, etc.) and grapples with the mystery of America’s increased average house size coupled with diminishing storage space:

[A]s consumption has grown, so too has the average size of the American house. The National Association of Homebuilders reports that the average American house went from 1,660 square feet in 1973 to 2,400 square feet in 2004. So, let’s get this straight—houses got bigger, average family sizes got smaller, and yet we still need to tack on a billion-plus square feet to store our stuff?

So, what the heck is taking up all that square footage?

Slate readers should know: It’s Labrador retrievers.

Last week, in a piece called “Top Dogs,” Brendan I. Koerner speculates on the increased popularity of Labs (Labrador Nation, anyone?) by suggesting:

[T]he Labrador’s increasing popularity may be tied to the advent of exurbs and McMansions. Since 1971, the average size of an American home has risen 55 percent, to 2,320 square feet. Families aren’t having more children to fill up the extra space, so there’s plenty of room for a Labrador to romp around.

The solution seems so simple: put those Labs in storage.

Matt Haber