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To Rent or To Buy

Nancy Trejos

The economy is turning many of us into renters, and I’m not talking about apartments.

A number of Web sites have sprung up that encourage people to look around their houses for things they can do away with for a temporary amount of time — for a fee.
Conversely, people can rent items they only need once or twice rather than buy them and have them sit around the house.

It’s a strategy many people seem to be embracing. They’re hitting public libraries and video stores a lot more these days. They’re driving around in Zip cars.

“The old paradigm of buy and use it once and store it forever is shifting to an economy based on usage and accessibility,” said Jeff Boudier, co-founder of Zilock.com.

Zilock.com came about like this: In the fall of 2007, a couple of friends in France were trying to hang something up on a wall and didn’t have a drill. They thought about buying one but somehow calculated that a drill is used only an average of 12 minutes in a lifetime. It made no sense to buy one, they argued.

“We were thinking about all of the drills lying around the building or the block and we had no access to it. We thought there are so many ways you can sell your things online but no way to borrow things,” Boudier said.

The peer-to-peer renting Web site first launched in France and Belgium. Once it took off, the founders expanded to the United Kingdom and the United States. Boudier, who is the U.S. general manager, said there are now 100,000 items for rent just in America. Not only are there drills up for grabs but infant car seats, camping gear, and digital cameras. “We are offering new ways for people to save and make money,” he said.

To prevent fraud, users have to register. The owners of the items set the price and the renter has to pay a deposit. Both parties sign rental agreements.

Rent-instead.com works in a similar fashion and offers a variety of electronics, books, clothing, and other items. Other Web sites are more specialized. At Chegg.com, for instance, students can rent textbooks. At Babyplays.com, parents can rent toys.

I can think of several items in my apartment that I have used only once or twice. What a waste of money. Anyone need a crock-pot?

By Nancy Trejos  |  June 16, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bargains , Nancy Trejos  
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Comments

You imply there is a US version of Zilock, why not link to it? I'm willing to bet I'm not the only reader who can't read French enough to even find the US-based site from the French one.

Posted by: rubytuesday | June 16, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

What type of crock pot & how big?

Posted by: ntilzha | June 17, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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