GearCommons is the latest manifestation of the so-called “sharing economy,” where individuals can rent goods or services directly to other individuals with the help of a dedicated online platform—think of Airbnb (for lodging) or Lyft (cars).
Now GearCommons is applying the same concept to outdoor equipment. Here’s how it works.
Are you a gear owner interested in making some money off all that gear that is otherwise just sitting in your basement or closet? Post it to GearCommons for rental; you set the per day rental price.
Are you in need of gear for an upcoming adventure? Browse the site—you can search by item and location—until you find what you need. Next send a message to the renter via the site’s messaging system to arrange the rental, including duration and pick-up and drop-off times.
Once the rental has been arranged, the borrower picks up and returns the item(s) directly at the renter’s house or other designated location. Payment is done through the site, which takes a 10 to 25% cut of the transaction.
What happens if the gear is damaged during the rental? As the site’s detailed FAQ page indicates, this is clearly a significant concern. You can browse the nitty-gritty info on the site, but the short story is this: Gear owners can set a required deposit for each item of gear as potential collateral for damages. Once the item is returned, the gear owner has 24 hours to determine if any damage has occurred. If so, the owner has complete discretion to determine how much of the renter’s deposit should be withheld to cover the damage.
It’s an interesting concept, though also one that requires a certain threshold of participation (and effort) to work. The site is currently in its early phases and has limited participation in many locations, though it does have a decent selection of Boston-area offerings (its founders are based there).
Whether it succeeds will likely depend on whether people like you use it. I’ll be keeping a curious eye on it myself in the months ahead.