Would You Use A Netflix For Toys? It Exists.

Sure, there are Netflix-style rental services where you can rent designer dresses and accessories by mail, but would you swap toys with strangers by post? A few recent startups are betting that you will, at least to try out new and pricey toys before buying them, or to reduce clutter.

It seems like an expensive variation on garage sales and hand-me-downs to me, but the idea appeals to a lot of parents. One venture, Toygaroo, received funding during an episode of the investing reality TV show “Shark Tank.” The potential flaw in this plan is lost or broken toys, but the founder of TOYconomy, which has been in business since September, claims that ruined toys haven’t been a problem yet since they offer an insurance plan for ten percent of the rental cost. “For customers who did not get TOYsurance and they have missing pieces, we give them a few weeks to see if the piece turns up,” the founder told Retail Customer Experience.


Parents playing with the idea of Netflix-style toy rental [Retail Customer Experience]

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  1. framitz says:

    Rent toys? No way in hell.

    • Don't Bother says:

      For real.

      How many toddlers have spit, drooled, and sucked on the various limbs of that doll your child is now sleeping with?

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        How is that different than garage sales? It seems crazy to spend too much money on new clothes and toys for infants and toddlers.

        • Don't Bother says:

          I think in that case you can reason that it’s only been one other child, whereas these toys may meet many pairs of grubby hands.

          Hey, most of my clothes come from resale and consignment stores. I’m pro buying used any time I think it’s appropriate. I think though that when it comes to your kids, things you would do for yourself you wouldn’t necessarily do if your child was in your place. You’re more protective, or at least women are stereotypically.

          This is all coming from someone who has no children, so who knows what I would do if I had a kid and an empty bank account.

      • Billy says:

        they get cleaned. thoroughly.

        • Don't Bother says:

          Oh no, it’s not rational at all. It’s all in my head, but it still makes me feel gross about it.

  2. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I think a neighborhood toy coop would be a good idea. It’s already done informally with things like baby clothes, power tools, etc.

    When I was a kid, it was fairly common for women who worked downtown to swap their clothes, so they could wear something different each day of the week.

    • lucifa says:

      My local libary runs something like this – you can check out toys on your card and pay a small fee like you do for DVDs. It’s mostly toddler and baby stuff, but it’s all in good condition and they seem to get loads of toy donations

    • TerpBE says:

      We once tried a neighborhood toy coop, but one of the kids bit a hole in the chicken wire and there were toddlers running everywhere!

  3. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    “Would You Use A Netflix For Toys? It Exists.”

    I can stream toys over the internet? I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • bendee says:

      With 3D printers coming down in price, one day soon you will probably be able to stream toy designs to be printed.

  4. SerenityDan says:

    I saw a news report on this place the other day. They said that kids get sick of toys after a month anyway. Wha???? I STILL own some of the toys I got when I was 4 (He-man) and only stopped playing with them in my late teens when they became shelf decoration. Now that I’m all grown they just sit in a box in the basement but still… have em.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It depends on the kind of toy it is, really. Action figures and branded toys can probably last because kids stay interested in the TV show or movie it corresponds to. The stuff that is usually abandoned after a month is probably stuff that doesn’t really have a lot of staying power in the first place. I can see a kid playing with a stuffed animal for years but leaving behind the latest leapfrog toy once he or she has finished doing the activities or the parents forget to get new batteries for it and it stays in the bin for a little while.

  5. [redacted] says:

    I heard about this either last week or earlier this week on the raido.

    I bet it’s a great way to spread the sickness.

    • teamplur says:

      I’m pretty sure the toys are sterilized before being sent out again.. that’s more than i can say for netflix or gamefly

  6. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    I’m firmly in the “they’ll get bored with it, anyway” camp. Especially for really young children, which Toygaroo caters to.

    I saw the episode of Shark Tank that they were on and they really seem to have it all together. The toys are sanitized with steam cleaners and then heat sealed in plastic bags before they are sent out to someone new. These are all hard toys, so it’s not like germs are getting stuck in plush fibers or anything.

    Caviat I would add here is that I would be clear with the child that these toys aren’t owned by them, and let them help pick out the toys on the site. I’d hate for a kid to grow up and wonder why I “gave away” the toy they remember loving or something like that. When I was growing up my mom gave away some of our favorite videos without asking my brother and I and we were pretty upset about it when we found out. I wouldn’t want to have anything “untoward” going on regarding this, and it would be fun for the child to be able to pick out whatever toys they wanted, so I see it as win-win.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I completely agree. I know explaining the concept of a library to my daughter pretty much blew her mind.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        Yeah, it makes me wonder whether some of these other commenters use things like the library or let their kids go to friends houses or anything like that. Kids share toys all the time, whether it’s at school, at eachother’s houses, day care, or whatever.

        I don’t have kids and probably won’t ever have them, but it’s not hard to imagine what it would be like to do something like this.

        OH GOD, WE CAN’T USE THE LIBRARY, WHAT IF SOMEONE DROOLED ON THE BOOKS?!

        Lol..

  7. caradrake says:

    Wasn’t there an article about this site a week ago? Or am I confused?

  8. Tegan says:

    It’s like deja vu all over again!!!

    http://consumerist.com/2011/12/in-tight-times-parents-can-use-new-site-to-rent-toys-for-kids.html

    Same picture and everything :(

  9. caradrake says:

    To answer the actual question – no, I wouldn’t use this site. The prices are fairly outrageous, and I’d rather put that money towards buying new toys that my kids will own. I have 2 kids, and plenty of friends with kids of their own, so the toys get a lot of use.

    There’s also a large possibility that a toy would get broken, meaning we’d have to pay even more money.

    • Don't Bother says:

      That’s what I would worry about too.

      “Honey, we had to mail these back yesterday. Oh no, this one is missing his shoe??? Oh my god, oh my god. We have to find it! Where is the GOD DAMN SHOE!? FIND IT!!! STOP CRYING AND LOOK!!”

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Yeah I can’t imagine using this for cheap toys, but I can see using it for very expensive toys, but those are the kinds of toys that have a lot of pieces that you have to keep track of. Heck I am an adult and I STILL manage to lose pieces to items I intend to resell, even though i am careful and I keep everything organized, I still lose pieces. For toddlers and toy-age kids to keep track of every piece to every toy would be an amazing miracle in itself.

  10. Hi_Hello says:

    if I plan on getting my kids a lot of toy…sure.

    1 toy per year! Handmade only. every other year after they turn 10, they can buy something.

  11. DanGarion says:

    It’s all about Neckflix.

  12. Taed says:

    I resolved long ago that if I ever became super-rich, I’d open a pet library. You’d get to try out pets for short periods of time and potentially keep them. It would work for people who hadn’t decided on a pet, or children who are just working up to having a pet of their own. Pet libraries do actually exist these days, though I did “invent” them independently when I was young.

    • James says:

      A fancy hotel in Aspen somewhere has this. But on another vein on of the local shelters allows you to take pets out for walks and to the parks for a few hours – after completing a few hour class and waivers and what not.

      I did it before we got a dog and loved every minute of it – except bringing them back to the shelter
      :(

    • teamplur says:

      Me and my wife have always talked about the “puppy/kitty exchange program”. You would get a puppy or kitty, then as it gets a bit older and not as cute, you send it back and get a new one. Of course this would be a horrible thing to actually do and it make the shelter problem 10x worse. We just talk about it as an inside joke whenever one of our pets is growing into it’s more addolecent personality or something.

  13. Veeber says:

    Our local library has a kids toy section where you can borrow toys. They say they clean them before putting it back on the shelf but I spray with a weak bleach solution and air dry before I let my daughter play with it again.

  14. Outrun1986 says:

    I think this is a great idea, but it is going to be limited to the kinds of toys that are not easy to lose pieces to. I can’t imagine trying to keep track of every single little piece of each toy with a toddler. With very young kids, you can buy a few toys and rotate them out every month and they won’t know the difference. With kids up to about 3 years old you can give them any old toy and they will be more than happy with it, so its really not necessary to buy brand new expensive toys from the store, you can live solely off yard sales. I speak from experience on this one. I shop yard sales and the amount of toys for young kids that are available is staggering, and toys are the last things to sell here because every kid has too many so people don’t want more. You just have to be willing to clean the toys before you give them to your kid.

    This would be ideal for more expensive toys, however the more expensive toys are the ones that usually have a large amount of tiny pieces that can be so easily lost. Kids are unpredictable and even if you train them and train them not to lose pieces it will still happen.

    I am not sure if its more worth it to buy a toy, teach the kid to keep all the pieces so you can get maximum value for it then sell it on ebay when they are done with it or to rent the toy.. because ebay is an option if the toy becomes in demand and super hard to find. But on ebay you could also sell a toy if it was missing a piece, and if it brought down the value of the toy you can chalk it up to being more careful next time.

    By the time the kid gets to be old enough to keep track of the pieces (and even then they can still get lost) they become too old to play with toys and move onto video games and electronics…

  15. teamplur says:

    rentatoy.com started up back in ’08 and was doing really well till some lawsuit/insuficient insurance issue came up (from what i was told). The idea has been done a few times, just needs to avoid major issues early on to get a foot hold. the current page is just a placeholder. here’s a link that shows the original company:
    http://www.skyboxcreative.com/portfolio/case-studies-rentatoy-branding-san-diego.php