Renting Instead of Buying

Parting is such sweet sorrow. That's how I feel everytime I sell something on eBay or Craig's List. So I didn't really need that old laptop anymore. And that infant bouncy seat surely went to a deserving bidder. But maybe I could have used that laptop as a back-up computer. And will my sister need that bouncy seat when she has kids one day?

Zilok.com may be the answer to those who have trouble parting with their goods but still could use some cash. Launched in 2007 by Jeff Boudier, Zilok is an online rental service where owners can rent their stuff to people in a surrounding community. Say you're going to a wedding or on vacation and want a really nice camera to take some pictures. Search in your community on Zilok and pay a fee to borrow it from a local person instead of having to buy one. Think of Craig's List but instead of a sales transaction, it's a rental transaction.

But "nobody treats my stuff as well as I do," you say? Well, renters have to sign a contract, before the item is turned over, that holds renters accountable for the condition of the goods and their safe return. There's also a deposit put down by renters. The owner of the merchandise can come up with their own contract or Zilok has a sample one that can be downloaded. Owners who are pleasant to work with are motivated by ratings that are given to them by the renters, much like eBay.

The site has everything from strollers and mechanical bulls to beachfront condos in Hawaii. Boudier says he expects business to pick up this year as people find ways to make and save an extra buck. At least 20,000 people are active renters on Zilok and Boudier expects to add 50,000 more in the next six months to a year. Zilok will also calculate what you could potentially make renting some of the items around your house. I plugged in several items around my house like an ice cream maker, a DVD player, baby gear and maternity clothes and the calculator told me I could make $124 a month renting all these items for about two days at a time.

"We provide a new way for people to make money by using the things that they already have," he says.

Boudier is working on building rental communities in every major city. But he's also competing with other sites like Irent2U.com.

Have you ever rented something other than a car or a vacation home? Have you ever put up your own stuff for rent? What did you learn from the experience? Would you do it again?

By Tania Anderson |  February 5, 2009; 12:00 AM ET General Interest
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Need a they can keep it button

Posted by: Nick20 | February 5, 2009 1:52 PM

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