It is better to rent a tool than a tool that is used once in a long time! Visit the Chicago Tool Shop

It is better to rent a tool than a tool that is used once in a long time! Visit the Chicago Tool Shop
Sharing is Caring

When you clean up or make home repairs, you will inevitably need a lot of tools. Some tools are not cheap, and they are not often bought, so many people choose to find a professional to deal with these problems. In Europe and the United States, because labor is more expensive, most people have to do it by themselves, but the tools they buy are not only used less frequently, but also take up too much space at home! As a result, someone in the United States opened a “tool shop” so that people can borrow the tools they need without spending a lot of money to buy them!

Before rolling out the plan, make sure there is such a need

Everyone knows the library, but do you know what a “tool library” is? Just as the library can borrow books, the tool library allows people to borrow the tools they need without spending money to buy them. The tool shop is not a new concept. As early as 1979 in Berkeley, California, there was a tool shop that lent out all kinds of caulking guns and wrenches. In the United States, there are currently more than 50 similar tool shops located in Washington, Baltimore, Seattle, Atlanta and Denver. Tessa Vierk, 31, was originally a chef living in California. He often borrows tools from the Berkeley tool library, so when he moved to Chicago in 2016, he was surprised that there was no such service there. Vierk wanted to take a break from being a chef and use his free time to participate in community projects. He figured that since Chicago didn’t have a tool shop, he’d start one. To make sure there was such a need locally, Vierk surveyed the community to see what kind of response it would get. The local residents were very happy when they heard about the plan and gave Vierk a very positive response. And a software engineer named Jim Benton said that if Vierk needs any advice, he is willing to help. It turned out that when Benton lived in Portland, he had volunteered at a tool shop there. After moving to Chicago, I also felt that it was a pity that there was no tool shop there. So, when he saw Vierk’s questionnaire, he decided to be more active in making this a reality. ​After the two met, they had a good talk and decided to do this thing together that they both found meaningful. So they started spreading the word on community media, asking Chicago residents to donate unwanted tools. After a period of hard work, the Chicago Tool Library was officially established in August 2019. At the time, they had about 500 tools and 160 members. Six months later, Chicago began to lock down the city due to the new crown pneumonia, and people’s outdoor activities also came to a halt.

The tool is broken after use, it is better than collecting dust at home

The worsening of the epidemic has actually brought more business opportunities to the Chicago Tool Shop. People who are locked at home have started to carry out many “home projects” to pass their leisure time. But for the average person, spending $70 to $100 on a nail gun that you use less than a few times a year isn’t worth it. At this time, the Chicago tool shop is full of tools to provide better choices for these people. If you want to borrow any tools from the tool shop, you must first pay a minimum membership fee of US$10 (about NT$270). The $10 guarantees members the ability to borrow any tool in the tool library for one year. However, members can also choose to pay an annual fee of 20 to 190 US dollars. The benefits are the same, but it means that you are willing to use more money to support this event.     After paying an annual fee, members have the option to browse online for available tools. Everything from sewing machines to tripods, even snow shovels and camping tents can be found at the Chicago Tool Shop. After deciding which tools to borrow, members can book online, and then go to the tool library to pick up the items. The Chicago Tool Shop currently adopts the “pay as you please” model. Members can pay what they can afford when borrowing tools according to their own ability, and then they can take the tools home and use them for seven days. If the tool is unfortunately broken during use, members do not need to bear any maintenance fees, and the tool shop will be responsible for repairing it. Co-founder Benton believes that many people buy tools and just put them in the closet or garage to collect dust, or use them once or twice and then throw them away. In contrast, the tool library allows tools to be fully used until they “end of life”. This is not only more economical, but also better for the environment.

The tool shop can not only save money, but also help members strengthen their self-confidence

The most popular tools at the Chicago Tool Shop are staple guns, upholstery rugs and carpet cleaners. But there are also members who borrow unusual items like beekeeping equipment, tortilla steamers, and mushroom spore inoculation syringes used in gardening. René Nuñez, a 44-year-old property manager, paid a $20 membership fee and borrowed a branch pruning knife to cut some branches that had gotten stuck in power lines near his home. Then he borrowed a waffle maker and an OBD2 scanner (a device that does diagnostics on car engines). He thinks his annual fee pays off after loaning out the first tool! Carina Trudell, a 29-year-old flight attendant, is also a loyal member of the Chicago tool shop, and the tools she has borrowed include saws, sanders, ladders, nail guns, pressure washers, labelers, ice cream makers, wheelbarrows and gardening tools. During the epidemic, he also rolled up the carpet and replaced the hardwood floor for the home. Also painted the walls and replaced the baseboards. Trudell believes that the tool shop not only saved him a lot of money, but more importantly, built his self-confidence. Since he can achieve home improvement without buying expensive tools, he has more confidence in his ability through these activities. And co-founder Vierk also learned new skills because of the tool library. Before Christmas last year, he borrowed a food mixer to make Christmas cookies and a steamer to make tamales. Of course, he quickly returned the tools after the trial run, as they took up too much space. ​The Chicago Tool Shop currently has about 1,700 members, and the annual fee received is enough to cover the rental and operation of the Tool Shop. 90% of the tools in the museum are donated by others for free, and the total number has rapidly increased to 2,500. As the popularity of the tool shop increases, so does its demand. Coupled with the fact that the current space cannot accommodate so many tools, Vierk and Benton intend to find a more suitable space. They wanted the place to accommodate “twice as many” vehicles and be closer to mass transit. After all, in addition to promoting “recycling”, the tool library, like the library, aims to provide the public with “fair resources” and help reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.   It is better to rent a tool than a tool that is used once in a long time! Visit the Chicago Tool Shop

Sharing is Caring