It doesn't matter if you are warehousing a catalog or putting your leftovers in a safe container to freeze, the decision to store food and printed materials is usually based on convenience, money and emergencies. You want the option of having your print project available to ship at a moment's notice in the same way last night's dinner can conveniently become today's lunch. You want to get print projects as cheap as possible so ordering in bulk makes sense. The same can be said for buying food in bulk or saving leftovers to not let anything go to waste. Then there's an emergency - the paper for your project is currently unavailable or a snow storm is on the way and there is no way you can drive to the grocery store! The reasons to store are apparent but storing printed materials takes as much thought and consideration as storing food.
Many of the things you know you should consider when storing food are exactly the things you should think about before your next print project goes into inventory.
Temperature plays a huge role in food safety and print warehousing. For instance consider bread. If you leave bread out at room temperature it has a very short life span, yet by freezing it, you can safely keep it much longer. By freezing, you can also store items for long periods of time that are already prepared such as meat loaf, vegetable beef stew or lentil stew.
As with food, in general cooler, humidity controlled temperatures are better for storing print materials.A perfect example of this is the potential deterioration of an envelope. Any printed material that contains an adhesive of some sort is subject to potential damage from bad storage conditions. An envelope contains remoist glue. If a warehouse gets too humid, the additional moisture content could cause the remoist glue to activate. The humidity can also affect paper that will naturally accept moisture causing mold growths and potential color loss (or yellowing) over prolonged periods of time.
Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is a huge way to achieve great savings on both food items and print projects. Companies such as Sam's and Costco are continually increasing their membership due to the ever growing trend of buying in bulk. My wife and I buy in bulk for items that we will store for prolonged periods of time like meats, poultry, fruits, vegetables, fish, sauces, oils and everyday condiments.
As much as it makes sense to buy in bulk for food, many people don't take advantage of bulk buy opportunities in the print industry.If you have a common paper you use for your print projects, buying this paper in bulk to use for multiple print projects may qualify you for a better price. Also, with the high cost to setup a non-digital print project the cost per piece almost always goes down with the more you buy. If there are no (or very minimal) art changes and eventually you will use more than your current order, then it makes sense to buy more and just store it. If there are minimal art changes you might consider printing something like a shell. Take for example business cards. If you print multiple business card orders for your company each year and the only difference in everyone's card is a black only name and number change, print the four-color portion of this in bulk ahead of time (the shells). When you need to order more, the printer will merely have to imprint the black text on the cards saving considerably in setup costs for each run. If you have any projects you are currently printing frequently, at least have a discussion with your printer about potential savings from creatively printing and buying in higher quantities.
First In, First Out
In addition to the considerations above, I firmly believe in a first in, first out policy. When your fridge is getting empty and you restock, take the remaining items and move them to the top and front. These have been in the fridge the longest and should come out and be eaten (or thrown away) before any newly bought item is touched. The same is said for a warehoused printed piece. If your warehouse counts are low and you order to get your inventory levels back up, make sure someone is making it a priority to place the remaining materials in a section where they are sure to get used next. It may seem like common sense and practice, but in reality it is usually extra work to make sure this happens. It doesn't hurt to monitor that your warehouse does this because if something printed sits too long, it can eventually deteriorate.