Best shipping container business ideas you should try

The main purpose of a shipping container is to serve as a container for cargo transportation. It is airtight and has a reliable locking system. This guarantees the safety of materials or goods during transportation. Standardized dimensions allow the installation of boxes on any vehicle. With flat roofs and heavy-duty welded construction, they can easily withstand stacking. The same qualities have led to their use in many business projects. In this article, we will consider the most interesting ideas to buy used shipping containers in Chicago.

Shipping container business ideas

If you are thinking about starting a business, you should think about the reliability of the premises needed for this, including the costs of it. In some cases, a used shipping container can be a great solution. Let’s consider some of them.

Repair shop

Equipment of any class needs periodic debugging. There is no such mechanism that would serve for many years without a decrease in performance.

A common option for using metal boxes is to set up a workshop from a shipping container of 20 and 40 feet. It is very stable and quite roomy. The only drawback is the small working area.

There are several ways to expand the workspace:

1 – Annex

Nearby, you can put the same container and “cut through” a connecting tunnel in it. If this is not possible, a frame structure will do. It is assembled quickly, and its dimensions are adjusted in detail to the main module.

2 – Operated roof

A superstructure above a flat roof, covered by a gable structure, is an additional usable area.

3 – The terrace under a common roof

If you make it from paving slabs or decking, additional square meters will be formed to accommodate equipment or receive visitors.

A fundamental issue for the full functioning of the workshop is bright lighting. There are no problems with this since containers are often sold with electrification already completed. Connection to a common power supply line will allow you to use both lamps and professional equipment.

Natural lighting can also be increased by installing additional windows. The metal case allows you to “weld” the shutters, both hinged and sliding.

Change house

This is one of the most popular ways to use containers. Most often, construction organizations resort to this option. It is also suitable for project management where space is required for temporary accommodation of staff.

With the most minimal re-equipment, quite comfortable living space can be obtained from an ordinary metal box. It is equipped with furniture modules, cabinets, and well-knit storage systems. Sometimes a container with a vestibule is used, delimiting the usable area into two isolated zones. In this case, in one of them, it will be possible to arrange a mini-kitchen. In the vestibule itself, a utility block or a locker room is arranged.

Such a change house has many advantages:

1 – Reliable power frame

Spatial geometry is preserved under any loads. If openings for windows and additional entrances are cut out in the body, this does not affect the load-bearing capacity of the walls.

2 – Security margin

Industrial production means quality control at all stages of production. Only certified raw materials and high-quality additional elements are used.

3 – Possibility of reconstruction

Re-planning or replacement of metal with glazing does not reduce the strength of the product.

Variety of standard sizes. Shipping containers are selected depending on the task. Any option will be useful – from 3 tons to 45-foot giants.

4 – It is easy to transport and change houses

They are installed on trucks in several tiers for delivery to the desired areas.


Immediately after the conclusion of the contract of sale or lease, the containers are suitable for storing material assets. In fact, initially, they are mini-warehouses. They are made to provide a variety of logistics schemes.

For transportation by water, air, or land, building materials, batches of finished products, and small retail goods are folded and fixed with special devices in metal boxes. The functionality can be expanded by installing additional devices.
These include:
1 – Racks

They are arranged depending on the dimensions of the container. The most common installation option is around the perimeter. Installation in rows is also acceptable, but it takes up most of the usable area.

2 – Shelves

The strength of the frame allows you to attach them to the walls.

3 – Anti-vandal locking system

The container has greater burglary resistance compared to a stationary warehouse. Welded frame and sheathing with profiled steel sheets exclude the possibility of unauthorized entry.

Finally, the arrangement of a mobile warehouse will not require lengthy paperwork. It will not need to be entered into the register, unlike a capital construction project.


Can the container be used as a modular coffee shop? Why not? Bulky and clumsy, dry-cargo containers with the help of professionals can turn into an elegant and stylish cafe.

Technically, everything is already ready in it for installing several tables and light chairs. But when professional designers are involved in a coffee shop from a 20-foot shipping container, it will simply be impossible to see the transport module.

There are many ideas to use it. It all depends on the budget of the owner and the creative idea that he wants to implement.
The most popular cafe options:

– baby cafe;
– bakery;
– sports bar;
– burger cafe;
– gastrobar;
– vinoteka.

A special category includes art and Internet cafes. The first requires the construction of a podium and scenery (perhaps a curtain, backstage, and other theatrical things). The second requires equipment with network cables and web equipment.

The design solution may also be different. A classic indoor facility in the urban infrastructure looks just as organic as an open summer playground.

Metal boxes are easily upgraded. Panoramic glazing and folding walls completely change their original appearance.

A modular cafe from containers is the most costly option. But it is worth it and quickly pays off, as it opens up great opportunities for quality customer service. In order to combine shipping containers for cafes of 20 and 40 feet into a two-story structure, major changes in the internal layout and work with the exterior of the facades will be required.


Shipping containers used for other purposes have their admirers all over the world. Why are they chosen?

1 – High structural strength is ensured by a steel frame, stiffeners, and well-corrugated metal.
2 – Convenient and fast transportation, loading, and unloading thanks to the presence of standard fastenings and grooves.
3 – Fire resistance.
4 – Ability to operate in hot and cold regions.

A 40-foot shipping container and others can be purchased as a property in Chicago with the help of Pelican Containers. The company offers new and used shipping containers at a good price.

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