In the town of Frome in Somerset, the UK’s first ever SHARE shop has just opened. This innovative shop lends pre-owned items instead of selling them. All the items found in the shop are loaned to its customers rather than sold. Moreover, the items are personalized, each with a story provided by the previous owner. The founders of SHARE believe that the shop will not only be of practical help to customers but will also promote respect and trust. At the same time the shop also wants to provide training to young people to develop practical skills through social events and workshops, give customers some savings and reduce waste.
What a SHARE shop does is to ask people to lend or donate items that are still useful and of high quality. These are then lent to customers for a number of days. A small fee, which could be from £1 to £4 is charged from the borrower. They display the items together with a photo of the donor and the history of the item, which the shop founders believe would encourage people to build social connections as well as introduce them to the rich experience of using items they have not paid for.
Eight unemployed people were tasked to get the shop up and running within two months and it finally started operation last spring. The challenge was given to them by Edventure: Frome, a community enterprise that provides specialist training in entrepreneurship in the community. The young people tasked to open the SHARE shop said that it was indeed an eye-opener for them, since they were able to open a good business from the ground up by getting involved in the whole process of starting a business. Initial funding for the shop was provided by the town council of Frome. It is projected that it will be self-sustaining in six months’ time.
Frome Town Council’s energy and recycling officer, Anna Francis, explained that the shop will enable people to save. She cited an electric drill as an example of an item that would only be used one time at the most in an ordinary household. If the drill is lent to the shop, many people will have access to it when they need to use one, without spending a lot.
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