How do I set up a decentralized neighborhood tool lending exchange?
May 1, 2015 10:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in starting a neighborhood tool lending exchange, both as a way to save costs on tool, but to also better foster community and getting neighbors to know each other. I'm not (at this point anyway) interested in starting a centralized tool library, given the costs and commitment. I'm imaging a google sheet or something similar where registered members can check and see what tools they're willing to lend and then go from there. Have you had experience with a decentralized tool lending or can point me to successful exchanges where I can learn more about their system?

As stated, a centralized tool library will be more of a commitment than I'm willing to get into at this point, but I think we can quickly get buy in and have a relatively easy maintenance process with just a centralized neighborhood list, and let the exchange occur from neighbor to neighbor.

I'm thinking about starting with just limiting it to non-powered tools to see how it goes.

Potential problems I see and my thoughts, but open to other ideas:

* Membership - How do we handle membership, verify addresses?
- Registration with full name and contact information; then listing of tools available for
- Maintenance of membership registry; address verification?
- Signed liability waiver for participation in group
- Small Fee? If so, what for?

* Inventory management - How do we maintain an easily viewable database for members?
- I'm thinking a google sheet that members are responsible for maintaining and updating on their own, with their contact info and tools they're willing to lend out

* Dispute resolution - How do we handle late returns, stolen/broken tools, bad members/actors, disputes amongst members?
posted by Karaage to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
How about something like NeighborGoods? is the leading social platform for peer-to-peer borrowing and lending. Need a ladder? Borrow it from your neighbor. Have a bike collecting dust in your closet? Lend it out and make a new friend. By sharing with your neighbors, you can save money while reducing waste and strengthen your local community in the process. Best of all, NeighborGoods provides all the tools neighbors need to share safely and confidently in a trusted local community.
posted by divined by radio at 10:49 AM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest peerby which seems fairly similar.
posted by rubbish bin night at 10:59 AM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Any Orthodox Jews in your neighborhood? This kind of thing is called a "gemach" in the Jewish community and has a long history -- it's possible they might be willing to chat with you about how they organize it these days.
posted by ostro at 11:16 AM on May 1, 2015

I would charge a small fee and use it to create a sort of insurance pot to avoid bad feelings when something inevitably gets broken.

If you have 20 members and charge each of them $10, then you have a $200 pot that can be used to replace something that gets broken. You can then include in the liability waiver that anyone who lends out a tool with a replacement cost greater than the current pot does so at their own risk.

Tools do break or get lost and even a broken $20 ratchet can be enough to cause social nightmares.

Of course, depending on your breakage levels, you may need to occasionally re-up your membership costs. And if someone breaks a tool in an egregious way (blatant misuse of a power tool, for example), you probably want to have some system of putting them on probation.
posted by 256 at 12:23 PM on May 1, 2015

Do you have any neighborhood groups/contact already? If not, why not start with a more freeform group, like just a Facebook group for "[our suburb] lending/giving group" that people might be more likely to join without specifically being interested in tools? I havent seen one that handles lending, but I am in one for "[my suburb] free stuff" that works well - takes some mod effort to avoid sales and advertising, but with that is clean and helpful. PM me and I can give some more details if you like.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:26 AM on May 2, 2015

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