Thursday, December 04, 2014

Sharing Economy: Luggage?

The example I have been using is a drill.  Like here.  We all have drills, and never use them.  Why?  We'd rent them if it were cheap in terms of money and bother.  Instead, we own them and they take up space and we never use them.

But that's not the best example. The best example, I now realize, is ....luggage!  Think how much space luggage takes up.  And it gets all dusty and torn up, and you buy cheap luggage because you don't use it much.  Some people may only use luggage two or three weekends a year.


Because it's a hassle to get it delivered, it's expensive and...wait, what if it weren't those things? 

Some folks are giving it a shot.  Here, at RentLuggage.Com .  You get a nice piece of luggage delivered to you, and you send it back when you are done.  You don't have to store it, and the luggage is nicer.  Instead of sitting unused 350 days a year, your $1,000 (we have at least $2,000 worth of luggage, in the attic, but I'm assuming you people are less insane than we are) can be doing something else.

If I wanted to rent a Lipault bag like this,  It would cost $150 or so to buy.  You can rent it for a  a week for $22.  Of course, then you have to return it.  What if you want to travel again?  You can optimize, because this time you are going to Europe and you want to rent a backpack, like this.  That's $38 for two weeks.  To own both bags would cost more than $400, whereas you rented both for $60, at different times of your choosing, and now you don't have to store them.  It would take at least five years for the "own it" gig to work out, and lots of stuff doesn't last much longer than that, getting bumped around in the back of your closet which you don't have room for anyway. new example is luggage.  Don't you have some bags that you never use?  Why do you own them?


T.Lord said...

There are some things I can understand renting; *serious* tools (i.e. expensive, rarely used, super-specialized ones; post hole diggers?), or library books, or cabins on Cape Cod.

But bags? No way, unless those bags were specialized in a similar way. (Waterproof, ultra-strong dry bags provided as part of a rafting or scuba trip, sure. Or maybe the next time I rent a kilt and bagpipe, I'll rent a sporran to go along with it.)

I'll admit to owning more bags than I probably should, and some of those are of purely sentimental value. But the good ones (some of them were expensive, but in the long term not regretted) are ones that I've chosen and am used to carrying and packing -- they all have different affordances.

Not saying everyone feels this way about it; I am not sentimental or persnickety about *all* objects, but when I'm traveling I like to know where the pockets are, just what they'll hold, and that the straps and handles are nicely comfortable.

Thomas W said...

Renting might work for those who want / need a designer label. Come to think of it, department stores might do very well renting designer dresses, buying a dress on Friday and returning it Monday (after wearing it Saturday night) is apparently a common practice.

For those who don't care about a label, I'm not sure how rental would work. I generally pay about $40-50 maximum for a wheeled case, or $10-15 for a backpack. Nobody's going to make money renting those.

T.Lord said...


Oh, and Yes: I find nice bags aesthetically appealing, so I *like* having them; maybe that's not rational, but it's true.

I also like that if I *own* a bag and have it to hand, I can use it for spur-of-the-moment trips (weekend jaunt by car), rather than also sign up for a bag to rent. I can't even rely on FedEx delivering things when expected, never mind the USPS, so I wouldn't want to make packing for a trip dependent on a bag arriving.

Also, speaking of things perhaps not rational but real preferences, I'd rather pay a bit more for something that won't keep making me think about it on an ongoing basis -- a lifetime subscription to my favorite duffel and backpack, say. My greeat aunt had a lifetime (!) subscription to Reader's Digest, which she kept for 60+ years (they were true to their word); I like that. One reason I now subscribe to no paper magazines that I dislike the pressure to unsubscribe, even if I'd pay a fair amount up front for a lifetime subscription. (At least, I'd consider it. No promises!)

But now I'm trying to think of things I'd rather rent but that aren't frequently rented ... not coming up with much. In a tighter city than the one I live (Austin), I'd probably not own a tent, or a cooler, or a spare bike for guests ...

Simon Spero said...

How far in advance can you predict your need for the item in question? Will you need to rent the item at peak times?

What is the latency of delivery, and what are costs of JTL (just Too Late)? When you need a screwdriver, you need it now.

Also marginal cost of storing the items is highly variable (if you live in a converted closet in SF, it's higher than if you have a loft in Durham). If you have to choose between owning a suitcase or owning a bookcase, you probably don't need the suitcase.

I can see this working for luggage as status good, especially if renting the luggage can be finagled as a reimbursable travel expense.

Anonymous said...

As one with strong opinions about bags, this also seems like a nice way to try one out. Or for those who sometimes travel en famille and sometimes solo to augment a usable but stretched set of (owned) luggage options.

Speaking of, for a brief while an ebay assortment of renters of children's travel gear emerged; as far as I can tell, they no longer exist. I'm not sure why. Seems like another market that might usefully be centralized and virtualized (I think there are some individual ones that serve particular cities, and of course some rental places rent particular extras, often at not-very-appealing-to-the-renter-rates).

Road to Surf Bum said...

This is probably crazy, but what the hell:

I think we may underestimate the power of pathogen avoidance. My wife would have a "no thanks!" to putting her and kids' clothes in a questionably clean piece of luggage:"God knows whose dirty skivies have been in there". It would be interesting to measure disgust reactions to various kinds of used implements coming in to contact in various ways with people. One one end of continuum dirty socks (etc.), on the other, a clean wooden salad bowl. Where's the line of disgust, and does it line up with measurable contagion risk? I bet it's pretty accurate. Public luggage wouldn't cut it for my wife, but it might be ok with me. Women are, by way of natural selection, more sensitive to contagion sources.

Pelsmin said...

Hell, my wife makes me put my own dirty laundry in a plastic bag before loading in the suitcase for the trip home. She won't let her stuff touch a bag that was exposed to such horror.
Rent? You might as well eat from the dumpster.

Warren said...

Millions of people rent bowling shoes and sit on toilets others have sat on and use utensils that you cannot be sure of how well they were cleaned while eating at restaurants where they didn't inspect the kitchen.

So I think the "ew" factor is not a huge problem here.

It's so crazy it might just work!

Natalie said...

bedbugs. After loaning a piece of luggage to a friend and their coming to return it with tales of bedbugs at their hosts house traveling home with way ever.