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You don’t need us to tell you that real estate of any kind is getting expensive lately, but nowhere is this more true than in commercial spaces. As businesses of all shapes and sizes compete for the remaining commercial space they need to carry out their daily operations, it’s left a lot of businesses with the need to get a little…creative.

Nowhere is this more true than with warehousing, distribution, and retail. By their very nature, warehousing businesses tend to need a lot more space than other businesses just due to the size and scope of the items they carry, and it can be difficult to find the right commercial space to manage this inventory.


The solution, as it is with many warehousing issues, is to get creative! Many businesses are turning to warehouse alternatives to help reduce the burden on their current spaces and expand into new markets, even if the spaces they use aren’t quite as…traditional as they may be used to.

Here’s a few of our favorite recent ideas for warehouse alternative spaces, and what they can do for your distribution, logistics, or retail business!


Pop-up distribution centers


The “pop-up” concept has been thrown around a lot for several industries lately, but it can actually be just as helpful for warehousing as it is for small restaurants or food trucks. In warehousing, a pop-up distribution center refers to any smaller, geographically-focused warehouse that serves both storage and distribution needs. This means that instead of using warehouses only to move product around until it reaches its destination, you employ smaller warehouses that work to both store and distribute product directly to the end customer – whether that be a retail location, directly mailing products to the customers, or both. These warehouses tend to be smaller in size, allowing you to focus more on finding a location that can best serve your customer base, and less on finding a building that’s the correct size, allowing you to be more flexible in your real estate needs.


Multiple nodes


Similarly, offering multiple, smaller warehousing nodes can help you spread your inventory out to the areas that tend to see the highest volume of orders. By managing several smaller warehouses (or sharing warehousing space with businesses that have excess space for rent), you can focus more on the geographic areas your customers tend to be located in, and less on finding one huge location to service your entire customer base from. Since these warehouses tend to be a little smaller, you do need to be a little more clever with how you use warehouse shelves like metal shelving, but in a pinch, these buildings can do a world of good for your business.


Portable storage solutions


Let’s say you have a larger warehouse that’s running low on space, but you don’t quite have a big enough inventory (or revenue stream) to justify moving into another, even bigger warehouse, or trying to take on a whole second facility. In cases like this, many warehouses have turned to portable storage options like shipping containers or storage units to help manage their excess inventory off-site.

This solution might not work for larger warehouses or businesses with a pretty vast inventory, but for short-term inventory management solutions, you’ll quickly find out why this idea has become so popular among retail businesses lately. You’ll have to be pretty judicious about how many wire shelving units you can fit into an area this small, but the time and financial savings it brings will be more than worth the game of Tetris you’ll have to play.


Disused commercial space


Finally, if you’re really in a creative mood, a lot of businesses have turned to unused commercial space to store their goods. Think things like closed-down malls (or even an individual store inside a mall), an empty movie theater, or an old gymnasium. Instead of hoping for a new tenant or letting these spaces rot away, many industrious logistics & distribution providers have been turning to these spaces to create opportunities for product storage and distribution. You’d want to find something in a geographic area that makes sense for your business needs and supply chain, but these spaces can actually be a lot more economically and logistically beneficial than a more ‘traditional’ warehouse might be.

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