Are you running a home-based business and struggling with keeping your inventory accessible on organized? Is your storage closet impossible to keep organized? In today’s post, of Ask An Expert, France from Toronto has written to me because her storage closet for all her product and supplies is becoming a frustration to access and maintain. I am going to give you all my best tips and insights on making your stockroom organized and accessible in 3 simple steps.
PROBLEM: HOW DO I ORGANIZE MY STORAGE CLOSET/STOCKROOM FOR MY BUSINESS SUPPLIES?
I run a home-based business that involves selling product I create. I keep all the supplies I need to create my product in the closet in my office. I also store shipping supplies, gift wrap, art supplies, and empty boxes from my technology (keyboard box, iPad box etc.). Really, it’s a mishmash of things that feel are crowded and disorderly, and I have difficulty accessing what I need with ease and efficiency. I don’t need to add more in there, I just want it all to be more organized and accessible. From France, in Toronto
Thank you for reaching out to me with your query. First off, give yourself a pat on the back for how tidy and organized your storage closet looks. I can tell from the photos you sent me that you are naturally a pretty organized person. The challenge you are looking for help with is the logistics of storing your inventory.
Running a home-based business is very different from just working from home or having a home office. Your entire business is run, and your inventory/supplies are stored and shipped from your home too. So, storage and organization present a real logistical challenge. This not only creates more supplies to store, but it also means that there is more “movement” with the supplies you have. As you mention you are constantly accessing items in your storage closet to conduct business. In a normal office, your desk is the area of most movement – not your storage closet.
Let’s look at what you have in there by category:
- Office storage/archive
- Shipping & Packing supplies
- Reusable shopping bags
- Art supplies – right side
The Organized Stockroom
Let’s start with approaching this closet as your stockroom for your inventory – not just a closet where you store things. A well-run stockroom should:
Maximize Space available:
Your closet is floor to ceiling so this great. The mirrored doors prohibit you from fully utilizing the horizontal space. The shelving unit currently limits your ability to maximize your vertical space.
Minimize handling of goods:
Positioning and arranging items in such a way that you are not moving things in order to get at what you want. This is an issue on the right side of your stockroom as the bottles, tubs, and jars are in layers in front of each other or on top of each other in their current layout.
Enable easy access:
This involves categorizing and labelling your supplies and stock, grouping similar things together. Where this becomes a challenge for you in the current configuration is in your paper, shipping and archive items; they are piled on top of each other (albeit in boxes), so you have to move a box to access another box.
Creating solutions that do not lock you into one type of layout/system. Business focus changes as do the size, shape and weight of supplies so you want to be able to accommodate these unforeseen needs. You are all good here.
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France, your biggest challenge here is in how you are using the space available to you. It is more than big enough for your current means which is great, so we don’t have to create more storage space. It really comes down to maximizing your horizontal and vertical spaces. There are a number of options for you to consider here:
Step 1. Maximizing Horizontal Space:
Optimizing full and easy access
The mirrored sliding doors impact your ability to maximize storing your product horizontally. The middle of the closet is not easily accessible and thus you have wisely chosen to put a free-standing shelf unit inside each end of the closet. Sliding doors are removable and easily replaced at a later time if you move. You can put curtains or sliding blinds in their place. Both options allow ease of access. Here are some examples of what I am talking about:
Once you have full access to your closet you will instantly find it easier to access what you need and create better organization of your inventory. It also frees you up to choose alternative shelving systems as you are not constrained by having to fit it into one side.
If you removed the sliding doors you could then consider putting a cubed shelving system for all your product and equipment and also fit in one of your steel shelf units. Ikea has a great solution called Kallax. Closet Maid does have a cubed shelving system but I don’t think they are as secure as the Ikea ones.
Step 2. Maximizing Vertical Space:
Optimizing shelving space
The problem with using the shelving unit you have for smaller items is that there is a lot of empty space that is not being used. Putting everything in boxes certainly keeps things organized but it hinders ease of access.
Removing the sliding doors may not be an option for you. Though doing so will give you full use of your horizontal space, you still have a lot of vertical space to take advantage of. To address your vertical space I suggest using stackable drawers on the shelves for your smaller items.
Drawers are great because they maximize your vertical space in an efficient way – all you need do is pull it open to retrieve what you need inside. Everything stays neat and tidy inside. They are also great because you can categorize what you have far better. I have a set that I have had going on for 14 years and they are still in perfect condition after years of constant use and a few moves! A client of mine, who is a news anchor on national TV, uses them for all her cosmetic supplies. They are very versatile and come in a good selection of sizes. I will warn you, good stackable drawers are an investment. It simply isn’t worth getting cheaper ones as they buckle, crack and take up more space than the inside of the drawers offer. On the left is a photo of the drawers I use for my stationery supplies. I also have larger drawers too which I keep paper in. I got mine from the Solutions Store here in Toronto. Solutions have a great selection of stackable drawers for you to consider. Amazon has a good line by Iris USA (pictured on the right) that are well made, thoughtful design and look sharp too.
By putting your smaller items in the drawers you will be able to maximize the space on the shelves. It will also mean that you are not knocking anything over, spilling, or puncturing the contents of any bags while accessing inventory.
Step 3. Organization of Inventory!
Now we get to the fun stuff – where everything might go! Your closet is pretty much organized France, as I already said – you have a natural knack for this. In your case, you just couldn’t maximize the space you have. You have your business product and equipment on the right-hand side along with a little mishmash of items here and there. I am going to suggest that you keep the right side for the regularly accessed business product including shipping supplies. The left side will be for long term storage and also your gift wrap and cards. My cute diagram below will give you a better idea of what I am describing. As you can see the cubed unit is wider than your steel shelving unit so it can maximize all your supplies for ease of access.
Don’t worry if you can’t go with the cubed unit, you will just be using more stackable drawers if you stay with your current shelving unit. The very top built-in shelf can stay the way it is – as storage for large boxes and your computer/technology boxes. Any wrapping or shipping supplies that are up there currently can be put below.
France, I hope this helps you. If you need further clarification just drop me a line and we will tweak it together so that it works for you. I have 2 posts that might be of interest to you before you get started with this project.
You can also check out my Pinterest Board for more tips and suggestions on organizing storage spaces.
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Organizing Your Stockroom for Peak Efficiency