I once imagined a free store. You know, a store where you can go and get stuff you need for free. I’m not talking about food, clothes, or other kinds of things that are commodities or perishable. I’m talking about things that are reusable. Tools, equipment, sporting goods, and books and magazines of course. There are hundreds of reusable items and gadgets that just sit around people’s homes and garages, doing no one any good.
Make Money by Monetizing Your Stuff!
People can monetize their stuff! Most items are free to borrow from the lending library of course. However my idea to give folks an incentive to bring in stuff that’s just laying around the house so they can make some cash on their items that normally just sit gathering dust. Hmmm.
You go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and spend $200 on a heavy duty battery powered drill? Ok, cool, sure. No problem. But then what? It sits in your garage doing nothing. Most people don’t use a drill everyday. Even people in the construction industry don’t use drills everyday.
Stuff sits and doesn’t get used. It’s wasteful. And even when it is used, it’s not used for very long. Usually it’s small projects and repairs and then it goes right back on the shelf in the garage, to sit for months before it’s used again.
Would you leave 2 crisp $100 dollar bills on the shelf in your garage and walk away? No. You wouldn’t.
So why leave a drill, or shop vac, or ladder sitting there? Because it’s yours? Ok. Yeah. because you never know when you’ll need it? Yeah, true…maybe, but most likely you won’t use it often, and it’s going to sit there doing nothing. You might need it, that’s why you bought it. Right? Be prepared. Always be ready. Right? Good point. However, have you ever stopped to think about how many battery powered drills lurk in garages in your neighborhood? Your block? Even your street? Nearly every house has one. Where does that drill spend most of it’s time? Yup! On the damn shelf doing nothing!
So why not monetize it? Make it work for you. Bring it in to the library and when we lend it out to library members you make a commission/percentage of the monthly subscription fees we receive from members. It’s a WIN/WIN/WIN. I get to lend stuff that people need for short periods of time and I get paid, they get the use of whatever it is for that time to solve their problem, and you get paid. How cool is that?
OK, so what about theft? If you’re like me you’d probably worry about people walking off with whatever you loan out. True, there is a risk. However the business model I came up with is so simple and elegantly powerful it’s amazing.
I mitigate the risk of theft by simply having everyone’s credit card and ID on file. Just like any business that deals in valuable items and secure transactions, having all parties information on file lessens the risk.
The whole thing is a membership based model. Members must sign a contract and keep their card on file. They are billed a monthly membership fee and are welcome to borrow any item from the landing library. After a specific amount of time, they bring it back and it’s in turn loaned out again.
Just like any book library, if you’re late in returning a book you get charged a fee. Since my lending library is membership based all members are required to sign the contract and agree that there are penalties for bringing items back late. Late fees also help generate revenue for the business while also providing incentive for folks to have items back on time. And yes, you can reserve items that are in stock. Cool huh!?
Since each member has their credit card and payment information on file, if they fail to bring the item back in time, after 30 days or whatever, then they agree to be charged the full replacement value of the item.
This almost completely removes the risk of theft. Late fees will still probably be a regular income generator for the business, but the risk of loss is reduced significantly. Oh yeah. One more thing. I would put into the lender contract that if a member steals or fails to return an item, that not only will they be charged, but you, as a lender, will receive compensation for the item. This mitigates your risk nearly completely. I’d guarantee to replace the item in the event it’s stolen or lost. The added benefit is you make money every time someone borrows it.
What if an item is damaged in the course of it’s use, or someone doesn’t know how to use something? Good question. s I said above, compensation is given based on a case-by-case basis and the value of the repair or replacement.
Lets face it. Some people are just plain stupid. Some are clumsy. Some will probably hurt themselves through their ignorance and not knowing how to properly use an item even if you train them how to use it. It’ll happen sure as the sun comes up everyday. There’s an idiot in every village. So how do you mitigate that liability? By giving them an IQ test before an item is loaned out! LOL Ok, not really, but I can think of some public and political offices where IQ testing politicians would be an awesome idea! Seriously though, liability is a serious issue. Lessening the risk of liability is very important. Well, it’s like any other business that deals in selling and renting anything. You give them the basics, and have them sign a liability waiver. Simple really. If they try to come back and sue, then there’s a waiver. it won’t protect against all liability, but it helps.
Is it Profitable?
That’s a good question because there is no lending library like I’m talking about. You’d have to run the numbers to figure out what your costs are and how much to charge for memberships and late fees since that is your primary income.
Memberships could be $20 or $30 per month. Or as much as $100 per month per member. Depending on what they would like to borrow.
“Hey! Wait a minute. If you’re charging people a fee, then it’s not a lending library.”
The subscription/membership fees are to cover the overhead and cover employee’s salaries. The membership dues help run the operation and provide revenue to purchase items for the lending library. I’m confident people won’t bitch too much about paying $20 or $30 per month to have access to just about every item they could ever need.
So is it profitable. Sure. Most items that are loaned out from the lending library won’t cost anything because lenders can donate and/or lend an item to the library. It’s basically consignment, but with a monthly fee attached to the consumer side.
Residual Income & Operating Capital + BONUSES
Making it a subscription/membership based model means there will be a guaranteed monthly income and operating capital for the business. Bonuses come from late fees, however I can see that as possibly becoming a nuisance later on down the line for some members and that would have to be addressed at that time.
The model I came up with is solid and I’ve given it a lot of thought.
Subscription Based: Low monthly fee helps pay for overhead and salaries of workers.
Prime Directive: Free and low cost everyday items in a library type environment.
Mission: Provide the community public access to free and affordable items.
- Local Newspapers
- Local Magazines
- Community Bulletin Boards
- Newsletter Email List
- Facebook Page
- Facebook Group
- Social Network
ITEMS AND PRODUCTS:
- Tools & Equipment
- Sporting Goods
- Children’s toys and games
- Infant supplies (cribs, bottles, ect.)
- Auto-working tools
- Maternity clothing
- Kitchen appliances
- Home-improvement tools
- Game Consoles: XBOX, PS4, Wii
- Video games
- Specialized books
- Seasonal supplies (beach chairs, snow skis)
- Business clothing
- Computer supplies and accessories
- Fine china for special occasions
- Party supplies
- Event Supplies: Tables & Chairs Tents & Canopies
FREE Kids Play Area
FREE ACCESS TO:
- Books & Magazines
THRIFT STORE CONSIGNMENT SHOP
That’s it for now. Maybe I’ll finish this later, maybe not.