Saybrook Avenue is your typical street in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati, OH. It’s lined with small starter homes with front porches that anyone from young professionals to retired couples reside in. Unlike many of the new subdivisions, it happens to feel like a neighborhood.
Four years ago I moved from a small apartment in Manhattan to one of these starter homes in Cincinnati. When I moved into my house I needed a lot of house things like power tools, gardening tools and lots of other items that would help me take care of my house. I got to know a few of my neighbors who were all really friendly and offered to let me borrow anything that I needed. I was so appreciative of their offers since it saved me money and time going to the hardware store.
Every once in a while there was something random like a tall ladder that I needed and no one that I knew had it. The idea of spending $100 dollars on something that I would probably only use once or twice made my stomach turn. I thought to myself, "There must be someone in my neighborhood who has a ladder," but I didn’t know who that was. Off I went door to door asking neighbors who had a ladder. “I don’t have one, but I think Greg down the street does.” And so I went to Greg’s house. “I think Amy and Ted are borrowing my ladder, but I can’t remember if they still have it or not.”
As I was going from house to house, I realized a few things. First, I was meeting all of these new neighbors that I hadn’t previously met. Borrowing things was actually a great way to meet new neighbors! Second, wow, why is it so difficult to find out who has what in my neighborhood? There has to be a simpler way to go about this. I can go online and search to buy a ladder and get over 120,000 results, yet I can’t find someone in my own neighborhood who has one.
Two and a half years later I needed that ladder again, but I found out that Greg had moved. At the same time the economy was in a downturn and people’s spending habits were changing.
Out were the days of buying something that sat in your closet collecting dust, and in were the days of only really buying what you needed to get by. The Green Movement was becoming more widely adopted. Bringing your own reusable grocery bags to the store was not only for the eco-conscious college student, but soccer moms were following suit. People were downsizing their homes and staying in to watch a movie rather than taking the family out to dinner and to the movie theatre. Most people were a part of online communities such as Facebook or LinkedIn, but did not feel like they had a sense of community in their own neighborhood.
All of these societal shifts prompted me to think about the insight that I had a few years back, "Wow, it’s really hard to find someone in your neighborhood who has something that you need. There’s got to be a solution to this problem."
And so I created Share Some Sugar, an online service that finds someone in your neighborhood who is willing to lend you something that you need. Need that ladder? Or how about borrowing an Xbox and Guitar hero for your holiday? You can go to www.ShareSomeSugar.com and type in the item along with your zip code. A list of results come up, showing which neighbors are willing to lend out that item. You then request to borrow the item for the dates that you need it. Once they accept the request, you meet your neighbor to borrow the item, use it and return it to them.
There is a security deposit feature and a contract as options to make you feel more secure in your transaction. Similar to eBay, you can leave feedback for your neighbor. This feedback system enables other neighbors to find out more about other neighbors sharing history prior to initiating a request with them.
When you become a member you choose a neighborhood that you would like to join. You can either join an existing neighborhood or create a new one, like one for your apartment building. The neighborhood discussion groups enable you to connect with your neighbors online. You can plan block parties, give away an old bike that your child outgrew, get a recommendation for a babysitter or anything else.
Why buy when you can borrow from a neighbor? You can:
- Lower your environmental footprint by consuming less.
- Save money by borrowing instead of buying.
- Get to know new neighbors and watch your neighborhood turn into a community.
We look forward to sharing with you and your neighbors at Share Some Sugar!