On Special Assignment

May 17, 2013 11:02 AM by Dan Cimmino - KPAX News

Sharing economy trend gaining popularity in Missoula

MISSOULA - There's a global upward movement called the "Sharing Economy," where people use the Internet and possessions they already own to create a whole new source of income that's gain.

Reporter Dan Cimmino went on Special Assignment to see how this trend has infiltrated Western Montana.

There's the old neighborly saying of what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours. It sounds good in theory, but often times consumers consume independently, a trend that is beginning to change now with the Sharing Economy, where everything you need or want is just one click away.

The big one of course on the Internet superhighway is Craigslist, where anything can be posted, including Rideshare. About five listings per day are seen in Missoula as folks share the cost of travel with complete strangers while reaching their destination.

While the Rideshare feature on Craigslist is great, it is limited. Let's say I need a car just to get around town - no worries there - just check out relayrides.com. You can find someone offering their car, or something they own - and within minutes our problem of personal transportation for the day is solved.

We headed out to meet with Lisa from relayrides.com, and she let us borrow her Toyota for the day.

"[It's] Just the idea of sharing cars for the community, because some people don't have access to a car, and some studies have shown that one shared car takes 13 off the road because multiple people might use this car," Lisa Mason explained.

"You're basically losing money if you don't utilize. Like cars sit idle for 90% of their lives, meanwhile it's just depreciating, so you might as well take advantage of something you have that someone else can use," she added.

Renting someone else's car is just the surface of possibilities. For example, on airbnb.com, over 30 Missoulians list their homes or residence to the public for anything from a one-night's stay to an entire week's vacation.

Now what about all that Spring cleaning that you need to do? Well, the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project offers their Tool Library, where you can check out supplies to help do your share of beautifying the community.

"I mean it doesn't make sense for everybody to go out and buy a rototiller or for everybody to go out and buy all the power tools and table saws that you would need for a project," commented Anna Semble with the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project.

Businesses aren't completely in the dark on this either as they too have gone the sharing route with other businesses for years to help reduce cost through barter networks. Basically if a company makes a product, they simply offer that product in exchange for something practical from other businesses.

"When you can buy something with your product instead of going to your cash drawer, there's the advantage almost every business owner gets instantly. When we help each other everyone benefits. Using what you have to what you need is the point," We Trade Network President Karen Welch told us.

We found out that the Sharing Economy means anything can be yours, or anything of yours can be someone else's - for the right price.

The MUD Tool Sharing Library offers memberships between $30 to $60 per year. The We Trade Network says their client list includes over 300 members throughout Western Montana.

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