Zilok brings back borrowing system

October 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
One innovative Bay Area company is helping people save money and make money, in this economy. The website Zilok connects users with neighbors who want to rent their barely-used household appliances or tools.

"There are so many things that we have that we barely use," says Jeff Boudier.

Boudier is one of the innovators behind Zilok, a website where you can register items you own for rental, or search for items you'd like to borrow instead of buy. With a click, you can find it in your neighborhood.

Need a fan during a heat wave? You can borrow one for $5 a day. Need a printer? That will be $10 a day. If you want to loan out your iPhone, you could stand to make $25 a day.

Current hot rentals include baby strollers and car seats for out of town guests, digital cameras and video games, and sporting gear like kayaks and bicycles.

"You don't have to get rid of your objects or sell your things on eBay, where you lose your things. Here you can keep your things, have other people enjoy it and start making money," says Boudier.

Are consumers ready to stop buying and start borrowing and lending?

In the year since its inception, Zilok is offering more than 100,000 items in many major cities. Those items include everything from blenders and spatulas to a Ferrari Spider for $3,000 a day.

Josh Leeger has already rented out his weight vest and plans to start lending out his other fitness gear to recoup the cost.

"For me, I don't use the vest all the time. So if someone else can get use out of it and they don't have to go spend $200 to buy a brand new vest, it's perfect," said Leeger.

"That's a different philosophy. If somebody needs something and I have it and they ask, would I let them use it? Certainly. Would I charge them for it?" says Richard Clark, an Oakland resident.

The company gets a 5-10 percent commission on the rental and owners get a deposit to make sure they get their item back.

"Even though someone has given a security deposit, doesn't mean it's going to be returned in exactly the same shape it was received in," says Karen White, an Oakland resident.

While some are skeptical, others say it's timely.

"I think it's an absolutely wonderful idea. It saves a lot of money for people who can't go out and buy things right now with the economy. People are being very careful," said Jeanne Kostic, a Piedmont resident.

It's perhaps a new way of consuming.


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