Rentrepreneur: Renting Your Stuff to Make a Living
your junk on eBay is SO last decade. The new way to get money for all
the stuff you’ve accumulated throughout the years is to rent them.
In his Newsweek article, Rob Baedeker tells us how he makes money hand
over fist by renting stuff he wasn’t using anyway (and that includes his
Call me a rentrepreneur, one of the growing ranks of Americans
who, in a postbinge economy, are finding creative ways to make a quick
buck by hiring out their personal belongings. The movement is being
fueled by a slew of new startups catering to what some are calling “collaborative
consumption.” There are now sites to connect people who want to
rent out their cars, couches, personal services, dinosaur costumes or
clay-pigeon launchers ($12 per day on Zilok.com). For renters, the sites
offer goods and services for a relative bargain (weekly rates for a
rental car where I live in Berkeley, Calif., can be twice what I charged).
More than that, they’re a chance to bypass corporate America at
a time when corporate America is in the dog house. Why endure the long
waits, high prices, and surly staff at your big-box tool-rental counter
when you can pick up Rob Baedeker’s electric sander for a song—and
go home with a smile?
There’s a virtue in this business, too, part of a postrecession
shift from a throw-away society to a new economy of reuse. My customers
might be in the 99 percent, but they’re not broke or unemployed.
Same goes for my fellow rentrepreneurs. Yet after witnessing the fallout
from a half-century-long frenzy of conspicuous consumption, a whole
generation of us is now reexamining the long-forgotten “waste
not” maxim exemplified by the sugar-packet-saving thriftiness
of our grandparents. I can almost hear my Depression-hardened Nana speaking
to me from the grave: “You’ve got all this crap lying around,
man. Put it to use!”