If Facebook’s algorithms recognize you as anything like me, you’ve likely seen these ads for Sidio’s colorful looking milk crates that make it look like everything you might want to store can look way cooler than it actually is.
One of my toxic traits is that I can be very disorganized, but I also believe in my heart of hearts that no disorganization problem is so severe that it can’t be fixed by buying more organizing gear. So at the end of last year when I had a bunch of home office budget at work that I had to use or lose, I decided to treat myself to some of these crates.
First off, there’s a reason I used work budget to buy these: these crates are incredibly overpriced and I was only really into buying them because I had a budget that I couldn’t think of any other uses for.
Now, they do routinely have offers (more on that in a second), and if you shop at the right time you can get pretty steep discounts that bring the prices down to just on the upper end of what’s reasonable. And once you’ve purchased the initial set of crates, adding incremental crates over time is fairly reasonable. I’ve thought about refactoring all my basement storage to use Sidio crates and that probably would set me back a couple grand (but my basement would look so much cooler).
And if you want some of these offers, then all you have to do is place one order from them and you will get fucking bombarded with text messages from them advertising their latest bullshit. I have transacted with Sidio a total of three times, starting in late 2022, and they have sent me 75 very thirsty promotional text messages. And to their credit, I did affirmatively opt-in; it wasn’t one of those implicit opt-ins where the opt-in is buried in the fine print of me doing something; they asked me and I said yes. Also, I gave them my Google Voice number instead of my real number so that helps a bit. I don’t mind occasional promotions from companies, but there needs to be some proportionality to how much I’m doing business, and this is way out of whack.
Once you cave into the upsells and necessary accessories and place an order with them, they are incredibly leisurely about shipping your stuff to you. Usually it’s a good week or more before the item actually leaves their warehouse, and they are shipping cheaply using ground FedEx shipping. I don’t need Amazon-speed shipping or anything but I would expect them to be able to pack up my order and get it to me in a week-ish, at which point in time you have some large cardboard boxes showing up that you will then need to tear down after you get them unpacked.
Finally, I’ll share my nitpicks with the crates themselves. Despite being marketed as this highly standardized system, there are weird product inconsistencies, like the fact that lids for their half-height and full-height crates don’t fit one another (edit: it looks like their 2.0 lids have addressed this and are fully interchangeable). They think their products are a little more self-explanatory than they actually are, and include no assembly instructions, leaving me to guess at the right method. There’s never a ton of assembly, mind you, but a quick video or one-sheet would leave me a lot more confident. And one final nitpick: the lid latch mechanism is really pretty unsatisfying given the price point this product is at. It’s got a lot of friction. I would love a satisfying click that comes with just the right amount of force.
The Good (I swear, there is some good)
Despite all those gripes, I really do love these crates.
I like that they’re American-made (and that helps me tolerate their relatively high costs), and they feel incredibly sturdy and high-quality.
They come in really fun colors, which I’m an absolute sucker for. It makes them kind of whimsical. And their color variety is incredible; even if saturated colors aren’t your thing, you’re likely to find colors that you’ll like.
If you’ve got some regular milk crates (the long ones, not the square ones), these are made to stack alongside those too. That’s useful if you want to standardize your storage system around one set of box dimensions but you aren’t keen on spending $28 and up on a full-sized crate (without lid).
Another thing I love about these crates: they work quite well with most cubby shelves, like the ones IKEA makes. The crates are deeper though, so they’ll either stick out in front or you’ll want to leave some room in back, but I really like how nicely they fit.
Finally, the ecosystem is awesome. They’ve got the crates themselves with lids, but you can get accessories like dividers, wheels, straps, labeling plates, and a handful of other things. They’ve even got waterproof crate gear and collapsible crates now.
I love using these crates for highly organized storage, but they’re also handy for the car. When I am picking up cat food I’ll load it all up into a crate instead of using bags, and the crate is stable enough that I don’t hear stuff shifting around as I drive. They’re great for road trips as well; i can pack clothes and supplies into them and they make loading and unloading the car super easy.
Over the years I’ve acquired a lot of plastic storage solutions, and they vary a lot in quality. I’ve got plenty of Sterilite brand bins and containers I bought from Walmart 20 years ago, and while they’re still intact, they’re often really flimsy and feel only marginally better than cardboard boxes.
I’ve tried to be a lot more deliberate in products I choose, and I like the idea of being able to buy something for life, and Sidio’s crates feel up to that challenge. Not only that, but they’re fun and delightful to look at, and that’s something most storage products don’t do that well (in fact, lots of products are getting less colorful over time, like cars).
I review things pretty sporadically on here; I don’t do these reviews as some kind of knee-jerk need to constantly generate content or weigh in on every single thing; I like to be very careful in considering the things I acquire, and for non-consumables, I want to acquire things that are made to last and that I will enjoy throughout its life. Despite my litany of complaints, Sidio’s storage products feel like they live up to that.
And as I said, they do offer crates in a more subdued palette if that’s more your jam than the colors I pick, but where’s the fun in that?