SHOREWOOD, Wisc. — In Shorewood, Wisconsin, residents who need a tool, a tent, or maybe some gardening equipment can pull from a growing virtual shed shared among neighbors.
Scott Yanoff started the Shorewood Shed about a year ago.
"I'd been thinking about a power washer, and I was probably going to rent it, and I thought somebody must have a power washer. How would I find out how somebody has that?" Yanoff said.
Yanoff built a website and started the shed by offering his tools and resources. Since then, the shed has grown among neighbors offering more than 150 items to loan.
The website brings together residents who are happy to loan items with those looking to borrow. Yanoff said it's called "crowdlending."
"Our most popular category would be tools, so that would be things like hand tools. There’s a lot of saws in there, a lot of lawn and garden equipment, medical equipment, recreation equipment. There are board games in there," Yanoff said.
Residents visit the site, see if the item they need is listed and contact the neighbor over email or Facebook. Anyone can offer an item to loan.
"Before I go onto Amazon, I literally just check the Shorewood Shed to see if it’s available for us before I buy anything," said resident Caroline Kreitlow.
Kreitlow first heard about the shed on Facebook and found it useful several times, most recently when she needed a jigsaw.
"Not only is it nice to save money, but it builds community. It’s really nice because Shorewood's only one square mile, and it’s really nice to just show up at someone’s house I’ve never met before and be like, 'Oh, you’re my neighbor! Thanks for borrowing me this,'" Kreitlow said.
Another benefit to the shed is sustainability.
"If you can borrow an item instead of buying it, you’re not adding to the consumerist society where you’re creating something that eventually becomes a product that’s thrown away," said Yanoff.
"Just return it when you’re done, and everybody’s really respectful about it. It’s a really nice thing to have," said Kreitlow.
About one year into it, Yanoff said he hopes the shed continues to grow.
"I would just encourage people to examine the website even if they don’t live in Shorewood because it could be a model that I'd be willing to help others within other parts of this community," said Yanoff.
Mary Jo Ola at TMJ4 first reported this story.