The Business of Sharing

November 21, 2014
Kelli Plasket
Through Pley, families can rent Lego sets such as this airplane.
COURTESY PLEYBORDER/GETTY IMAGES

How many of your toys have you played with lately? A 2010 British study found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily. So why not rent toys? It would cut back on waste and save money, says Ranan Lachman. He started Pley, a rental service for Legos.

For a monthly fee of $15 to $40, families can receive Legos from Pley's collection. A new set sells for as much as $400. When a user returns a set to Pley, he or she gets another one to build. "With Pley, families are getting unlimited Lego play for a year for the price of a new set," says Lachman.

Pley launched in 2013. It is just one of the rental companies that has sprung up recently. Items such as bikes, athletic gear, and even pets can be rented.

Yerdle is an app for giving and getting used items. Users earn rewards for giving something away. The credits can then be used to get other items. Rachel Barge is an executive at Yerdle. "You have to give to get on Yerdle," Barge says.

Brandee West lives in Richmond, Kentucky, with her husband and her two children, ages 6 and 7. She uses Yerdle. Her kids pick out items to list on Yerdle when they clean their rooms. "I want to teach my kids that if it serves a need as a used product, then it's better for us, our town, our environment, and the economy," West says.

Yerdle users ship items they no longer use to new homes.

COURTESY YERDLE

Rent-a-Ride

Some of the new businesses are updates of old-school rental companies. But thanks to smartphones and social networks, it is easier than ever to share, swap, rent, and buy used items.

Kids try out bikes from a new children's bike-sharing program in Paris, France.

REMY DE LA MAUVINIERE—AP

From Chicago, Illinois, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, cities have rolled out bike-share programs. This year, Paris, France, became the first city to make a bike-renting program available for kids. "We are preparing for the future of Paris, a city open to green transport, which is clean and shared by all ages," says Paris's mayor, Anne Hidalgo.

Sharing Is Caring

Rather than providing a product, some companies offer opportunities for users to make money. DogVacay connects dog owners to people willing to provide a temporary home for Fido.

These pups get a vacation home through DogVacay.

COURTESY DOGVACAY

Sharing requires trust. Barge thinks adults can learn from kids. "Kids naturally have a lot of sharing behavior," she says. "Adults are learning that it's fulfilling to have the joy of seeing someone else using something that has been sitting idle."

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