This is one of a series of stories we are sharing to show what's inside CubeSmart. You not only get a peek inside our customer's storage unit, but also a peek inside what is important to them. Thank you to Shawn, a customer of our CubeSmart store in Brooklyn, for sharing his story with us.
In college, Shawn Elliot majored in electrical engineering and minored in computer science, and he's always enjoyed tinkering and technical work. But he says it was his sense of frugality, more than anything, that inspired him to start his current business selling computer parts.
"I bought a laptop and one day I sat down to use it and saw that the screen was broken. I went to take it to get fixed and the store quoted me $1,000. I realized that I'm pretty handy—I used to fix cars and motorcycles—so I could order the screen myself and install it," he says.
Thus the idea of running his own business was born. Shawn stores his wares in his Brooklyn self-storage unit on Atlantic Avenue, takes orders over the internet and fulfills them as needed. His customers are typically businesses and come from all across the country. One of his bigger customers is Goodwill.
"Their IT department will be looking for a screen or a hard drive or they get something donated but it needs to be fixed, and the bottom line requires they get their parts used," he says.
In this day and age, computers are often manufactured to last just a short time, Shawn says, and the "break fix" culture has become more like "break replace." His customers don't want new goods that are cheaply made and value the older models, much like some drivers prefer older car models. The challenge is that many computers demand extremely specific parts which the average user can't find even on eBay or Craig's List, he says.
"Take a Sony laptop, for instance. You need special screws for it and you might have to buy a whole laptop to get those screws if you don't know where to look," he says.
When he's not sourcing or selling computer parts, Shawn moonlights as a freelance IT professional working on a temporary basis at area companies.
"Companies bring me in for routine maintenance or data transfer. I work through an agency with hundreds of clients. These days, most places don't use full-time staff for certain issues and things can often be done remotely."
Shawn's free time is scarce because he's currently studying to be certified in a new area, as a network architecture engineer. It's a huge commitment that he says will take years to complete but he's looking forward to having new, better-paid opportunities.
"Then I would work to help companies design their networks from the ground up," he says. "The process has been tedious and it's a lot of work but when I get on track I'll have a whole new career ahead of me."
We'd love to hear how self storage has positively impacted your life. Share your #HumansofSelfStorage story in the comments.