Geronimo!: New community gear rental site looks to help downtown dwellers get back to nature

Grand Rapids may be building up its urban core, but that doesn't mean its great outdoors are shrinking. 

As city leaders put the 2013 park millage to work and organization and community-led initiatives like Grand Rapid White Water look to bring life back to the Grand River, Grand Rapidians are going to need their outdoor gear -- and a new online start-up called Borrows & Lends hopes to make gear sharing in Grand Rapids the new standard. 

"There is less of a focus on having a giant house with a giant garage filled with all of your gear and all of your stuff," says Borrows & Lends' Kendall Gilbert. "People don't want that anymore. They want the conveniences and the services of being able to do the things they love, but maintenance and paying into that as a long-term investment doesn't really make sense." 

Modeled after similar community gear rental sites like GearCommons in Boston, Borrows & Lends is looking to build on an inventory of outdoor equipment that ranges from mountain bikes to kayaks with more affordable price points set by the people, for the people. 

Although it sounds like you could skip the whole community marketplace and just rent equipment for a specific trip or ask a friend to borrow their gear, Gilbert says both alternatives, however viable, are limiting.

"Things like rentals are often geared more toward tourists and in the tourism industry, so you'll pay a little bit more just to rent something once or twice, but as far as an every day or every weekend type of activity that you might want to try out, it's not really in anyone's best interest to be dropping $50 on a two-hour kayak rental," she says. 

Though Borrows & Lends is operating strictly online at the moment, Gilbert says after the brand is more established and inventory bulks up, her ideal future business has a physical location in Grand Rapids with doors open to anyone, regardless of skill level or experience, to walk in, list their interests or preferences, and get paired up with reasonably priced equipment. 

"I think Grand Rapids just has the natural connection because we're in such a cool place," she says. "We're one hour from Lake Michigan, one hour from the Manistee National Forest. We have a really heavy tourism industry and adventure industry throughout our state and I think that's awesome."

Endorse Borrows & Lends on Start Garden, or visit Borrows & Lends on Facebook to learn more about becoming part of its community gear rental shop.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Borrows & Lends 
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