Netflix, AirBnb, UberX, Rent the Runway — they're all part of the so-called sharing economy that lets people rent goods and services, often from each other.
The recent surge in rent-a-something businesses took off after the economy crashed in 2008. Consumers all over the world cut back their discretionary budgets and chopped up their credit cards, and started looking for ways to earn extra cash on the side. At the same time, technology made connecting renters and rentees easy-peasy.
With these factors working together the global rental market is now worth about $26 billion, says The Economist, and almost anything is available to rent. Here, a few rentables you may not have heard about yet.
If you love animals but don't know if you're ready for a life-long commitment, your lonely nights spent longing for puppy love are over. BorrowMyDoggy.com, kind of an AirBnb for pets, connects dog-owners with dog enthusiasts who for any number of reasons can't put a ring on it.
How it works: Pet owners pay $36.76 a year to post a profile of their pet and search for people in their area who are looking for noncommittal canine companionship. Borrowers pay $12.71 a year, and must be verified. The doggy dates can last anywhere from a few hours to an entire weekend.
Because $100-plus is a ridiculous price for a pair of pants you can't even wear at the office, many of us wear cheap jeans, and just ogle those mystifyingly flattering raw denim jeans from the other side of the shop window. But for some of us, the suffering is over.
How it works: If you live in Europe, and covet a pair of Mud Jeans, you can now lease high end denim much like you can a car, says The Wall Street Journal. A typical 12-month lease requires a 20-euro deposit and 12 monthly installments of five euros. At the end of the year, you can either buy the jeans for another 20 euros, return them, or exchange them for a new pair.
The average cost of an American funeral is $8,000 to $10,000, with the casket alone costing a painful $2,000. If that feels like insult on top of injury after a loved one's passing, you may choose to rent a casket for as much as $1,000 less. Just ask the funeral home.
How it works: The body rests inside a smaller wooden box which fits perfectly inside the larger, pricier casket. When the ceremony is over, a handler can lift the box out and retrieve the casket. The body never even touches the casket lining.
Companies like Rent-a-Wife and Occasional Wife don't specialize in escort services or anything else that could ruin a career in politics. Instead, they rent out hired help to perform traditionally house-wife-y chores like organizing cabinets, cleaning out closets, and planning parties. For what it's worth, the names are meant to be tongue in cheek. In fact, both companies are geared toward single, working women.
How it works: It's a lot like ordering a cleaning lady from an agency. Just go to the website and look at the packages, like Starter Wife, Good Wife, and Trophy Wife.
A Christmas tree
If you're a fan of Shark Tank (and who isn't?), you might know about The Living Christmas Company, a Los Angeles-based company that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban invested $150,000 into on the show. The owner, Scotty "Clause" Martin, cuts down on yearly evergreen carnage by renting real Christmas trees in December.
How it works: Customers pay a deposit, as well as a rental and delivery fee, and Martin delivers a live, potted Christmas tree to their home. When the holiday is over, he picks it up, and assuming the tree isn't brown and crispy, returns the deposit. The tree then grows another year.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- One girl's extraordinarily wild world
- 10 things you need to know today: December 18, 2014
Subscribe to the Week