Transforming Big-Box Retail into Self-Storage: A Conversation with Clint Harris


Transforming Big-Box Retail into Self-Storage: A Conversation with Clint Harris


Guest: Clint Harris is a seasoned entrepreneur and real estate expert who traded in his medical sales career for a life of financial, time, and location independence through strategic investments in real estate. From implanting pacemakers to converting big box retail buildings into self-storage facilities, Clint’s journey is nothing short of transformative. As the founder of Nomad Capital, he’s known for his innovative approach to reshaping the real estate landscape in the Southeastern United States. Join us in this episode as Clint shares his insights and experiences, highlighting the pivotal moment he decided to break free from the limitations of trading time for money. His story serves as an inspiration for anyone seeking financial independence through strategic real estate investments.


Big Idea: Clint Harris offers a groundbreaking perspective on real estate investment, focusing on converting vacant big-box retail buildings into lucrative self-storage facilities. He demonstrates how investors can achieve substantial returns with a unique value-add strategy through strategic acquisitions, in-house construction, and capital raising. Clint highlights the adaptability required to meet the evolving demands of consumers, particularly millennials, within the self-storage sector. He underscores the resilience of this niche market amidst economic fluctuations, advocating for calculated risks to break free from the constraints of trading time for money. Clint’s insights prompt listeners to assess their income ceilings and pursue avenues for greater financial freedom aligned with their long-term goals.




Dan: Nice. So, we were talking a little bit before the show, the big-box retail to storage conversion strategy, I guess maybe we could walk through a case study, perhaps it’s Reidsville, perhaps you have another one and really try to dial down on the numbers. You had this 87,000-square-foot building, what was the net rentable square feet, maybe how many units you got, what were some of the challenges you encountered with zoning, etc. And then maybe we could pull apart construction costs; it cost this and stabilized occupancy is this and just really detail one deal for us to kind of paint the picture of how this works.

Clint: Yes. I’ll actually give you some dichotomy here and give you 2 deals because they’re wildly different from 1 market to the other, right? The driving factor is the average price per square foot of net rentable storage in an individual market. So, we bought that 87,000 square foot Kmart in Reidsville, North Carolina for 1.5 million. This is obviously a big empty square. So, it had a pretty good big conversion rate. Depending on the shape of the building, you’re going to land between 70 to 75% of that gross area being net rentable square feet. The rest of it’s going to be hallways and walkways and offices and stuff like that. So, the choppier the building, maybe it’s 70% if it’s just a big square, maybe it’s a little over 75%, but that’s roughly where it’s going to land.

So, that building was converted to 550 climate-controlled cell storage units. And that’s based upon what’s the demand for the market. Do people want smaller units or larger units? That’s determined by a third party as well as the in-house feasibility study, but again, it really depends on the market. Obviously, the smaller the unit is, the higher the price per square foot. So, you can squeeze in a bunch of small ones. That’s better, but we bought that [inaudible].


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Clint Harris & I Discuss Transforming Big-Box Retail into Self-Storage:

  • Conversion & Challenges of Big Box Retail to Self-Storage (3:34)
  • Optimal Investment Structure and Returns (10:03)
  • Strategic Property Acquisitions: How to leverage prime locations and capitalize on market demand (20:09)
  • Changing Consumer Behavior: Adapting storage offerings to meet the needs of modern renters, especially millennials (25:53)
  • Stabilization and Occupancy: Achieving high occupancy rates through effective marketing strategies and competitive pricing (30:19)
  • Calculating risk in the pursuit of financial freedom (40:13)



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