An intriguing niche business: data media storage

Some businesses always have a sense of respect about them. There are your slick-suited bankers, your beard stroking lecturers, your white coat-wearing doctors and your deeply respected politicians (ahem).

Then there are those jobs that people don’t even realise exist, the kind that might even make you screw up your face in disbelief. “Really?” you’ll say. “Someone does that for a living?”

One such job, however, might lead to a raise of the eyebrow – it might even lead you to go into business. It’s the job of media storage – and it’s more interesting than it sounds. Media covers a whole gamut of different items, from ancient books to hard disk drives to aging film reels and famous works of art. All these precious items, the type that would perish under normal circumstances, have to be maintained by professionals with a keen touch for preservation and a keener knowledge of effective storage.

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Why is this so important? Well, let’s take one example of a lost gem.

Dad’s Lost Army

A few episodes of classic telly sitcom Dad’s Army, which showed a bumbling crew of DIY WWII soldiers getting into various scrapes, will never be seen again because of the poor standards of preservation.

Instead of the due TLC it deserved, the initial episodes were flung in the BBC archives and, most likely, taped over with something else. The value we now see in TV simply didn’t exist back then – and now a show is lost forever.

This is a story that could be applied to thousands of works of art throughout the centuries, from the numerous films of George Méliés (destroyed during the first world war) to the Cezanne painting that’s been missing for 13 years.

As a business, then, a large amount of specialist knowledge is required. For book storage, for instance, a fireproof vault is vital for keeping these invaluable items safe from flames, while airtight containers are necessary for easily perishable film reels.

In purely fiscal terms, you can rake in a generous living from this niche service.

The profit to be made

The handy thing about a niche concern is that there isn’t much competition, especially not in your local area. If you can advertise properly – trade magazines are your best bet – and create effective word of mouth, you’ll have the makings of a reputable business brimming with repeat custom.

But good business practices come at a price. The upkeep of an effective media storage facility – along with staff wages and startup costs – can cost a shedload. So, make sure you’ve got enough customers to justify the cost.

Ultimately, data media storage isn’t for everyone. But if you like the idea of keeping art in good condition for posterity, this is exactly the niche you should be filling.

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