Students line up to buy cardboard boxes at the UPS store in Collegetown after President Martha E. Pollack announced that the University would suspend all classes as of 5 p.m. on March 13, 2020.

Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

Students line up to buy cardboard boxes at the UPS store in Collegetown after President Martha E. Pollack announced that the University would suspend all classes as of 5 p.m. on March 13, 2020.

March 13, 2020

Local Storage Services Left Boxed-In After New Cornell-Paid Solution

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Since Tuesday’s announcement of canceled classes, students scrambled to secure a spot to store their belongings until the fall semester.

The rush threatened storage companies around Ithaca, most of which weren’t prepared to field an influx of business months before the end of the semester.

However, these same businesses now will see a sharp decline in their yearly sales, due to the latest announcement from Ryan Lombardi, Vice President for Student and Campus Life, and Lisa Nishii, vice provost for undergraduate education.

On-campus residents will receive free storage for their belongings in Ithaca, the administrators wrote, just under two hours after President Martha E. Pollack’s announcement. Lombardi and Nishii promised forthcoming details.

A student carries a stack of boxes across the Arts Quad Friday afternoon, after President Martha E. Pollack announced classes would end by 5 p.m.

Hannah Rosenberg / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

A student carries a stack of boxes across the Arts Quad Friday afternoon, after President Martha E. Pollack announced classes would end by 5 p.m.

These storage operations started just after the initial announcement on Tuesday to shift to virtual instruction.

Ezrabox, a peer-to-peer storage platform, sent a mass email to Cornellians Thursday to promote their services. They received hundreds of requests, according to Connor Reinhold ’22, chief marketing officer for Ezrabox.

“We were getting people by the minute,” Reinhold said, explaining that the sheer number of requests was also becoming “difficult” for the small operation to handle. The storage platform has since stopped accepting new booking requests.

Storage Squad, a Cornell alumni-founded business, has seen over 450 student requests since Tuesday — half of their typical yearly requests — according to owner Nick Huber ’12.

“Our whole world is a mess,” Huber said of the nationwide abrupt closures. When the announcement dropped, Huber rushed to Ithaca to field requests and set up shop.

Scores of students have tried to change their moving dates sooner or canceled their requests, presumably opting to take advantage of the free option.

“We’ve been cut out of so many of our markets,” Huber said of the concerns about losing business and paying employees.

According to Huber, Cornell will be partnering with local companies including Storage Squad to provide free storage for Cornell’s on-campus students. He said there will be a five box limit per customer — worth $185 through Storage Squad.

But Cornell hasn’t announced further details as of Friday evening.

Students take to the UPS store in Collegetown to stock up on boxes to move out of Ithaca, following President Martha E. Pollack's Friday afternoon announcement urged immediate return home.

Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

Students take to the UPS store in Collegetown to stock up on boxes to move out of Ithaca, following President Martha E. Pollack’s Friday afternoon announcement urged immediate return home.

“I think storage was pretty far down the list of critical campus situations,” Huber said. “Cornell is not communicating with us about what the plan is. We learn information when the students do and we see a big spike in traffic on our website.”

Storage Squad employees were also concerned about germs while moving through dorms and possibly infected students, Huber said. Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins County.

The plan — as far as he knows — is to deliver boxes to on-campus residents, have students pack and label their belongings and pick up the boxes in early April to mitigate contact.