Here's a High Tech Version of the Lending Closet


Behold, my first PCS. Household goods could not be delivered for several weeks. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a lending closet. Frustration, chaos and a big burn on my hand from accidentally grabbing the aluminum pan I decided to use on our stove were the results.

Household goods anarchy.

In that moment I could've really used the new website developed for the military community by a pair of California tech folks with the help of a smarty pants military spouse: BorrowShare.

The idea is simple: instead of scrounging up a rental center or using the lending closet system, why not have the option to borrow or rent from someone in your own neighborhood?

"The truth is everything you need is probably close by in your neighborhood. What would you do if you knew everything was nearby with a neighbor?" said Noah Shaw, who cofounded the site.

So Shaw and her partner, Bruce Yoxsimer, linked up with Erica McMannes, a military spouse who had worked in site development,  to figure out what a sharing economy-based site could like for the military community and how to make it work.

What they come up with is nothing short of genius. Backed by BorrowShare's damage insurance, users can rent items to other users confident that if it is broken or lost they are covered for up to $500. And because each user is allowed to leave a public review on the person they dealt with in a two-way rating system, bad borrows and lenders get called out. Items are also paid for up front, which takes out the "haggling in the garage" factor while making sure everyone gets paid, Yoxsimer said.

To make that possible, renters and seller pay a 10 percent fee on profits up to $300. Anything above that has a flat $30 fee. Borrowing is free (of course). Income from those fees helps keep the website running, pays employees, keeps the payment gateway up to date and covers the company's insurance cost, Shaw said.

Getting the word out about BorrowShare is a process,McMannes said. Right now the site has military spouse ambassadors helping to spread the word about the tool at nine locations -- Monterey and San Diego, California, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Rucker, Alabama and South Korea. She said the company is looking for spouses who are interested in launching the community at their local base.

You can check out BorrowShare on their site here. If you're interested in getting the site to your area, hit up info (at) borrowshare (dot) com.


Photo courtesy of Flickr user Alan Levine under the Creative Commons license.

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