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The Lego Lender

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The Lego Lender

Postby clonefactory » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:29 pm

So about 2 years ago now I purchased a whack of lego, approximately 140 sets. I won't tell you the price but it was a steal. The instruction manuals are all there in great shape. Problem is most of the sets can be found in 9 large tubs. I have about 10-20 Star Wars sets that are complete and bagged.

I had the idea today to start a Lego Lending company where sets or large quantities of Lego are loaned out for cash. I have already decided that I am not loaning figures. I do have some questions as well as would appreciate any feedback.

1. What would a great name be for the company?
2. What would be a fare rate for lending? Should it depend on the set i.e. cost, size.
3. Should I incorporate a damage deposit?
4. How could I possibly ensure pieces aren't being lifted.
5. Should I just include a damage fee for the expectation peices are gonna go missing?
6. What sort of documentation should I require?

Any other thoughts?
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby onions » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:36 pm

is this a joke?
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby clonefactory » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:44 pm

I don't know how to respond except to say "No".

While I have learned over the years to appreciate initial responses form people that may not understand a concept and are quick to make snap judgements. I was hoping that a community that supports Lego building would be able to offer some feedback.

If as a leader in this community you feel this is a "dumb" idea then there are of course other forums that support and nurture their community members.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby onions » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:49 pm

i was asking a valid question. my question was simple, direct, and to the point, having no undertones of any kind other than what the reader would inject. if your attitude is to assume the worst intentions from people, then yes, maybe there are other forums for you.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby CloneEmperor » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:53 pm

While the idea seems to have some merit, I personally think the logistics would put this idea firmly in the "headache" category. With the cost of LEGO and the high probability of lost pieces (including some that could be considered quite rare and therefore expensive) I think you would need a very solid financial backer to make this work. If you're not concerned about loss it may be a more realistic idea, but I don't think it's something I would get involved in.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby cas » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:54 pm

This doesn't seem practical, even moreso over the internet, assuming you'd do it online versus local.
Who's your target audience? Nobody's coming to mind who would want to rent Lego elements or sets when they could just buy and own, especially when there are great resources already in place, such as Bricklink.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby stenz » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:01 pm

What you are proposing is a horrible idea. Lending/loaning out complete sets for someone to build and then return is moronic. You may not like the bluntness of this, but it's true.

BUT....

If you want to explore this, try a different approach: Throw all of your sets into a few tubs, and/or get one of those collapsible construction site trash bag/bin/thingies. Advertise your setup as entertainment for a birthday party or other gathering. You get there, throw open your panel van, throw down the trash bin, dump in the lego, and let the kids at it for a few hours. Once done, you cart it away and hose it off with bleach or H202, ready for the next batch. Shrinkage should be minimal, but you would need to replenish periodically, if not just to keep your collection looking decent.

Of course, you would also need to insure yourself up the wazoo, since parents are litigious and kids eat lego.

So there is your new business plan. You're welcome.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby dWhisper » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:01 pm

I hate to say it, but that's really the thought most anyone would have. I mean, think about what you're asking or offering. While individual sets may have some merit and cost, there's not much of a "rental" market for anything in there. There's a huge aftermarket for parts, and very few are absurdly expensive. And there are a relatively low number of people who build something for a short time and not for keeps.

Who would really be in the market for this? Kids? They want toys they can keep and throw away. Parents aren't going to want to keep track of the parts and know what to return. AFOLs aren't going to want to rent things they can buy in bulks they want.

And jumping at the first response isn't the way to get any good feedback.
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby MisterFubar » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:24 pm

I'll rent them all from you indefinitely for 5 bucks a pound.

I'm sure there are all kinds of great ideas for a new business out there. I just don't think this is one of them.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby Chief » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:52 pm

Someone tried this already. The fact that I can't find the site may be an indicator of what a great idea it was.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby SuperDave » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:48 am

I do remember at least one other person proposing almost exactly the same thing (maybe on this site) a couple of years ago. The response (severe doubt about the marketability, feasibility, practicality, etc., of the proposal) was similar to what you're getting now. However, I think the "birthday party Lego pit" idea is about the closest you'd get to a cash-flow-generating concept. The execution is the first hurdle to overcome; financial sustainability is the second.

Mentally, I'm relating it to lending/renting jigsaw puzzles or, perhaps, board games. Your local public library might have some ideas for you.

1. What would a great name be for the company?
-You probably can't use "LEGO" in the name of your business without getting sued by the Lego Group. Check out store names on Bricklink.com for some ideas.
2. What would be a fare rate for lending? Should it depend on the set i.e. cost, size.
-A fair fare depends on whether you're doing a straight rental or a party service (as mentioned above). I'd think a party service would allow higher prices based on the time you're there (basically renting you instead of the toys).
3. Should I incorporate a damage deposit?
-I don't know how you'd check all the parts for damage in a reasonable amount of time. I'd recommend setting your prices high enough to compensate for damage.
4. How could I possibly ensure pieces aren't being lifted.
-I don't think you can by any reasonable means.
5. Should I just include a damage fee for the expectation peices are gonna go missing?
-See #3.
6. What sort of documentation should I require?
-You'll require liability insurance, a safety waiver (no children under 3 will be present, customer is responsible for any items lost or damaged, etc.), and, depending on your market, a background check/certification to set parents' minds at ease. I'd also suggest you go to the library and check out a book about developing a business plan and contact a state small business office. You'll be able to get your thoughts organized and iron out the details of what you want and need to do instead of losing your shirt running in blindly.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby legodavee123 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:31 am

I'd echo SuperDave, with one other recommendation: brick sanitization. I'm not sure how the LEGO company pulls it off, but for their events, they sanitize the bricks after every show before they get played with again.

Another thought would be to wonder what sort of other objects might come BACK with the LEGO-- your customers might throw in MegaBloks and other things (some being non-safe) that you'd want to check for and weed out before lending again.

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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby Draykov » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:54 am

I can buy/own a new widget for X dollars.
I can rent/give back a used widget for ≈X dollars.
Seems like a pretty clear consumer choice to me.

It doesn't seem to me that you'd be able to offer rental LEGO cheaply enough to make it worthwhile. The inevitable logistical expenses involved in transporting/tracking/maintaining your product (rental brick) would drive up your customers' costs (or cause you to lose money). If the cost for renting vs. buying is negligible, there'd be no point in renting.

Apparently, though, there are places out there that rent toys. Possibly even one that specializes in LEGO (Brickrental). I can see some parents being into the notion of a Netflix style circulating toy rental operation.

Victor Epand wrote:...it is not necessary to invest money in a variety of toys that your child will out grow or may become bored with in a short period of time. This makes renting toys a good alternative for many parents. This idea of renting toys is good for parents who feel like they are wasting money on buying toys that they don't need to keep. They may also feel that they don't want to clutter their house with things they don't need.


The hassle of keeping kids' rooms clean and finding ways to get rid of old, unused toys is a headache that some folks might actually pay to avoid, but renting is still a financial investment. One could argue that renting toys is still a waste of money without the benfit (or hassle, depending on your perspective) of ownership.

To make a profitable business of it you'd probably have to have a pretty big operation and I just don't know that there is demand enough to keep it afloat.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby cleverusername » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:31 am

I wonder if there may be a market for this. On many occasions I have loaned sets to friends for their children to use. They keep them for a few weeks and then return them to me. They enjoy this. Think of a kid who wants the 8098 Clone Turbo Tank. Of course they want to own it and keep it. But $120 is a lot for many families. However, $25-$40 might be possible. Honestly, I don't know if people would pay to rent toys. I am sure that others have tried.

I would not recommend doing this with sets for one reason: inventory. You would need to ensure that when you rent a set to somebody it is complete. The only way to do that is a complete inventory. For me this is a tedious process. And if you are doing it for money you have to be perfect; if you leave one or two pieces out of a set you are in for a hassle.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby that guy » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:39 am

All I'll say is that IF you were dealing with a toy that had no long term resale value then there could be a opportunity. You are however dealing with LEGOs, and as such are one of the few items that either an adult or child can buy, play with 100% without reservation, and turn them around days, months, or years later and recoup a large percentage of their investment. I will also say that you are dealing with a product that has a longer than average play cycle (meaning someone wouldn't really rent them for 2 days and return them feeling satisfied that they got full use out of them) so your rental periods would be longer meaning larger stock of rental items. Finally, people often rent things they either know nothing about, only need for a short period of time, want to try out, or can't afford to purchase and Lego really doesn't fit any of those. You'd be hard pressed to find someone in a family that doesn't know what a Lego is, you play with them over many years of your life, everyone's built something that stacks together or seen someone use Legos, and they have Legos in EVERY price range. Bottom line IMHO is that unless you follow the advise of others above and pick a specialized market like parties (which I've seen with mixed results) I don't think you have a viable product. But hey, Bill Gates never thought we'd need more than 640kb of memory so anything's possible. ;)
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby banthafodder » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:41 am

The other issue is the minifigs. You say that you will not loan out the figs but who would want to rent a death star and stare at a big gray orb skeleton. I do think that the party rental idea has merit but either as a bulk brick build or if you want to have sets, let them have a star wars battle. Clones on one side, seperatists on the other; have them build a few smaller sets for scenery/ play, put out generic clones and droids then give each kid (age appropriate) a spring loaded missile launcher and have at it.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby Andi » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:10 am

clonefactory wrote:Problem is most of the sets can be found in 9 large tubs.


Invite people to a sorting and building party.
Then sell the complete sets at Ebay. You might get more money from this, than lending it to someone.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby Mofo Jones » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:34 am

stenz wrote: Once done, you cart it away and hose it off with bleach or H202, ready for the next batch.


Did you mean to propose that he hose off the LEGO with hydrogen peroxide? Where would he get sufficient quantities for that? I know he's in Canada, but buying that here would probably land you on a list somewhere....

To the OP, I'm sorry, I have to agree with everybody here. This is not a great idea. You'd lose money, people would steal LEGO, and as stenz pointed out, people are litigious and you'd have to have a ton of insurance.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby that guy » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:09 am

Mofo Jones wrote:...people are litigious and you'd have to have a ton of insurance.


To Mofo's point, at the very least as a business owner you have to think, assume, and protect yourself from the worst which is "you never warned us our son could choke to death on a brick you rented us". I know it sucks thinking negatively but trust me, I run a food company and before anything is made we have to think of every legal aspect of what could happen with our food before it ever hits a shelf.
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Re: The Lego Lender

Postby Mofo Jones » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:01 pm

Eh, stenz said it first. I just repeated it for emphasis.

And to echo that guy's point, a company has to think of every possible foreseeable misuse of an item before an item hits a shelf. This will sound like a "duh" moment, but at one place I worked in the past, they had to put labels on every copier that said "Warning, do not ingest toner." For every warning label on a product, there's at least one injured and/or dead person who is the reason for that label.
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