Neighborgoods: borrowing, lending, or renting from your neighbors instead of buying new

Micki "Mickipedia" Krimmel's LA-based startup launches nationwide throughout the USA today (before, the service was only available in Southern California). The big idea: borrow and lend stuff with your neighbors instead of buying things new. From Micki's launch announcement: offers a unique service by building upon the success of sites like Craiglist and Freecycle. Inspired by their ability to encourage re-use and keep waste out of landfills, NeighborGoods goes one step further to help people get more value out of stuff they actually want to keep. Members can safely borrow a lawnmower, lend a bicycle, or earn some extra money by renting a DVD collection. NeighborGoods is like Craigslist for borrowing. NeighborGoods provides all the tools to share safely and confidently including transparent user ratings and transaction histories, privacy controls, deposits, and automated calendars and reminders to ensure the safe return of loaned items.
Intro video embedded above, and available here on Vimeo.


  1. This is a fantastic idea, and great for the community. Well done Micki! More ideas like this in the world please.

  2. Perhaps it’s because I’m so old…but this seems ridiculous. If you can’t share stuff with your friends and neighbors without server-side databases being involved, you’ve got problems no web site can remedy. Great Bog…just walk out into your local meat-space and encounter people! What’s next, yard signs inscribed with “A personal message is waiting for you at”?

    1. S2, That’s exactly our point! Sharing and borrowing is not a new activity. We’re just making it easier by providing a central inventory system so instead of calling all your friends one at a time to see who has what you need, you can see the inventory at a glance.

    2. S2, But sometimes you just can’t find any friends with something you need. Sure, some things your next door neighbor will have, but some things not.

    3. If you can’t share stuff with your friends and neighbors without server-side databases being involved, you’ve got problems no web site can remedy.

      Actually, you’d have a problem that can fixed precisely with a website. In fact, that’s exactly what they’re doing: sharing stuff with their friends and neighbors by using a web site. Where do you get the idea that people who want to use a website to share wouldn’t be helped by using a website to share?

      Then again, maybe you’re really saying that people who can’t share without using a website should just refrain from sharing. Well, that seems unnecessarily stingy.

  3. Think about the possibilities. If everybody in your neighbourhood put their movie collection in a database, you could probably do away with blockbuster. Just search the database for people in my area with a specific movie, and let the borrowing/renting begin. I would be kind of worried about making the information too accessible. Something along the lines of, Bill has 700 DVDs, let’s watch his house until he goes on vacation, rob him, and then pawn the DVDs. If implemented incorrectly, it would make it really easy for thieves to find houses with lots of stuff to take.

  4. @S2 Why limit yourself to only your friends and family, when you can borrow from hundreds or thousands of people? Maybe you have more friends and family than I do.

    And what about when you travel? I’d love to be able to borrow a bike in every city I visit and cut down on unnecessary car/bus trips. The only option for that used to be Craigslist, and doesn’t have any safeguards for the owner or the borrower.

  5. Hmmm, how annoying to discover only after making an account and listing some items that in order to become a “verified user” you have to pay $5.

    Although it’s a little confusing what it is that being verified gets you. The page implies that most things won’t be available to you if you are not verified, but when I add things to my inventory, I don’t see any option to restrict lending them only to verified users. As far as I can see, I can still borrow the things near me. But maybe there are hundreds of other things being lent near me that I can’t see because they’re restricted?

    1. Sorry for that confusion. We tried to be really clear about how that works. If you look at the verify page, we explain that when someone adds an item, they can choose who to share it with: Just friends, friends and verified neighbors, or everyone. So verifying is not required as your friends will likely be sharing with you anyway. Verifying just provides a little more assurance for folks who don’t know you – and thus gives you access to more stuff. check it out here (gotta be logged in)

      1. If you look at the verify page, we explain that when someone adds an item, they can choose who to share it with: Just friends, friends and verified neighbors, or everyone.

        The confusion is that, while the description says that’s what you’ll see, that’s not what I actually see. I only see one option, “My friends and neighbors can borrow this.” So I figured there was a mistake in the instructions.

        Further, looking through the list, I don’t see anything that requires me to be verified. But for all I know, there are such items.

        It seems to me that a) it would be clearer, and b) you’d get more buy-in if

        1) when I want to lend, even if I’m not verified, the options “Just friends, friends and verified neighbors, or everyone” (which I assume must be visible to verified users since you say they exist but I don’t see them), were all visible. Some of them could be disabled, with a notice saying the other options would be enabled if I were verified. Ta-da! Clarity and incentive.

        2) when I want to borrow, all items should be visible, even those only available to verified users. Ta-da! Clarity and incentive.

        I’d much prefer it if I had some understanding of why I would bother to become verified.

        But…. really and truly, if I’m going to be offering my stuff to share, I don’t want to have to pay $5 in order to have access to 90% (or whatever) of the stuff. Sure, you say it adds safety to the system, but this safety should arise naturally from other people’s recommendations. If 500 people have “thumbs-upped” me or whatever, I’m obviously who and where I say I am, so why should I still be locked out of everything because I didn’t want to pay money?

    2. Sam, that’s not true. The verification process is optional. You can still use the services without verification. From their FAQ:

      “Members may choose to verify their account for $4.99. Our verification system builds more trust into the network and provides verified members with access to more items. Verification is optional.”

  6. This utopian system works great in your head. In reality, your stuff will get ruined, go missing, and you’ll deal with people you won’t like if you don’t like them already. There’s a good reason we build fences – it’s to keep the neighbors out of our lives. If history taught us anything, this sort of share-based system like timeshares and communism would have proven more successful.

    1. @ Lucifer #11: but the historical examples may have failed in partbecause of the lack of tech tools that can efficiently coordinate shared use of things. Now we have such tools.

  7. The options are there you just have to uncheck the “my friends and neighbors can borrow this” box. I see where your confusion is coming from now. Fixing! Thanks!

  8. Dude, you’re quibbling over $5? Maybe you really do need to use Neighborgoods and save money then.

  9. I don’t want to know my neighbors. I’ve lived in some places for years and never learned the names of those living near me. Proximity does not equal trust and friendship. I’m OCD about lending things to my friends (how do people dog ear pages of books that aren’t even theirs, or tear the cover, or scratch a CD…).

    This sharing thing is going too far. I’m a leftist commie mutant traitor, but I can see no good coming from all this sharing.

  10. The local Freecycle wanted me to fill out an application in order to join. There was a mandatory essay question.

    1. If a Freecycle group makes you jump through any hoops to join it’s an attempt to keep out the spammers. There are spammers who join groups and then send spam/phish anyone who posts to the list. They send the spam from a different email address than the one they subscribed with, making it somewhat difficult to weed them out once they get in.

  11. I loaned an umbrella to a friend once in college. He returned it to me all bent up and shredded. “You wouldn’t believe the crazy burst of wind that did this, I could barely hold on to it!” he said. “Are you going to buy me a new one?” I asked. “Why? It wasn’t my fault,” he responded.

    I can just imagine that rocks my neighbors would run over with my lawn mower, the crazy shit they would put in my blender, and the massive hairballs they would ruin my vacuum cleaner with.

    1. @ thunderhammer #19 : nothing saying you cannot discuss said concerns with someone wanting to borrow something of yours, and get a commitment from them on what condition the item would be returned in and what the agreed usages would be.

      For instance, I would probably not lend my golf clubs to someone who said they wanted to go bust rocks with them (but I might offer them my sledgehammer!)

  12. The guy across the street, I share things with- tools, mostly. Most of the other neighbors, we leave each other alone, which seems to suit everyone. And the guy two doors down… is why I have fences and locks and a dog.

  13. What!?! Sharing! That’s un-american, that is! Next thing they’ll be wanting to give stuff away for free, or letting people walk on their property. It’s a slippery slope.

    Sacrifice these commonists on the sacred altars of St. Reagan & St. Rand! It’s types like them what cause unrest.

  14. That’s exactly what I was thinking, thunderhammer. You would need to charge rent AND a security deposit for every item with a non-trivial value. But if the deposit is too low, the person could just keep the item, claiming it was lost / broken. If it’s really high, nobody borrows anything, or the lender claims “you ruined it” and keeps your deposit. There’s no way this doesn’t end with somebody (the lender or the borrower) feeling ripped off at some point, with resulting permanent grudges. It just takes one troll / lawyer to find a loophole in the system that makes it pointless to try and continue.

    Wow, I really have a lot of faith in my fellow humans, where did that come from?

  15. Oh, gee, guess what? Your neighbour got kicked out of his house because he worked at the bike store and nobody was buying new bikes anymore. Well, at least he HAS YOUR BIKE!!!!!

  16. This is too sketchy, it won’t last. Just loan or borrow from your friend normally – call them. No need to register on a website and build another database for someone else to own.

  17. This is a very cool idea. I’ll definitely check it out.

    To all the haters/obnoxious skeptics, I ask this: if the human race is so deplorably cannibalistic and unscrupulous, how does ANY online used-product service survive? Ebay,, GameStop, etc. all work because their user communities have the ability to rate other sellers/lenders based on quality. If someone gets burned, they let everyone else know and the seller’s rating and exposure drop like a brick.

    If you aren’t sure how much you trust your neighbor with one of your items, lend something lose-able at first and see how well they treat it. Follow the basic rules of online-dating and Craigslist: don’t meet a stranger for a swap in a sketchy alleyway at 2:00am, and don’t give out any personal information you wouldn’t want them to know.

    Skepticism and critical thinking are essential when evaluating any service that puts you at a potential risk. But existing buy-used/sharing sites work not because their client base decided to turn into peaceful flower children, but because they’re allowed to weed out bad sellers and reward good ones.

    As far as I can tell, Neighborgoods seems to be basing it’s business model on solid, proven business and social concepts. I wish it the best of luck.

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