For many, Cumberland Self Storage signifies transition: a temporary place to store belongings. But for the past 11 years, Manager Steve Howe has been a constant friendly face to greet and help customers.
“A lot of people think it’s dull and boring—you just sit on your butt all day long and don’t do anything—but that’s not the case. I’m not really in the office that much unless I’m dealing with someone. There’s always work, maintenance, things to check, things to do, so I stay busy that way,” said Howe.
When Waterfront Maine purchased the Fort Andross Mill Complex in 1986, a small storage facility was one of the first businesses to occupy the space. Through the intervening years, Cumberland Self Storage has grown to over 700 units. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of storage units, but if you manage to find your way through you’ll experience one of Brunswick’s best views of the Androscoggin River.It’s not just old couches and dorm room items that people store; during his years at Cumberland Storage, Howe has seen great variety in what people come in with, from everyday items to the absurd.
“A lot of people will move their house in. They bring in a room full of stuff and another room full. You put it all together and it makes sense. Other people bring such a hodgepodge of things—it looks like you’re walking into a flea market when you look at their unit,” he said.
One customer stands out in Howe’s memory.
“I had one fellow who called me up and asked me if I had a ten-by-twelve available. He said, ‘Do you have a problem with stuffed animals?’ I said no. So he comes over about 15 minutes later with this mounted head,” Howe recounted.
He says the best part of the job is talking to scores of people, particularly Bowdoin students who make up a sizeable portion of customers in the summer months.
“You get to meet all kinds of people that you would never imagine you’d ever meet. I’ve learned how to pronounce a whole lot of new names, especially from the students who come from all over the world,” he said. “Everybody’s got a different story. Most of the time they’re willing to share it to a point—if not the first time around, the second or third.”