As wealth gradually started to (unevenly) spread in the world, we have been exponentially pushed to desire more goods and use an increasing amount of money to get stuff or requiring a certain type of services. As has consumerism has started to become more extreme, in the last decades new approaches to the market and trade have been developing within society. As the name itself suggests, sharing economy is a socio-economic modeled based on the exchange of tangible and intangible assets between two (or more) parts (i.e. peer-to-peer, business-to-business, business-to-consumer).
Whether it is in the form of car-sharing business or a shop where you can swap your items for others, sharing economy has been developing quite steadily in the last decades. In some cases, this model provides people with services or goods – in exchange for theirs – they wouldn’t otherwise afford. Access to assets is more valued over single ownership, and their production directly involves the participants in a collaborative way – making it, to some extent, more sustainable, and fun too.
So, any idea of where to find some spots which are based on this sharing economy model? Here we have our own particular list of some cool places and fresh initiatives you might want to check out. These are only few of our suggestions – our Spotters have written about other interesting places that could fit in this article, and while you’re browsing either through our cities’ blog or our website blog you might surely chance upon them.
Once a month, some volunteers organize an event called “Izmenjevalnica“, meaning “exchange shop”. Organised at Ljubljana’s Red Cross, it has been conceived as a creative way to promote solidarity and help to less fortunate strata of society. All you have to do is to bring some primary goods (soap, or imperishable food), and in exchange, you’ll get a coupon that you can use to buy clothes (clearly, most of them are worth more than a coupon). Besides the fact that you can find some cool pieces, you will be doing something good for the others.
Buffalo Exchange (Los Angeles)
Buffalo Exchange is a lovely and trendy thrift shop that you can find in LA! They sell loads of different items, from snapbacks to some nice chunky platforms. They have items for both men and women and they also stock seasonal stuff, like Halloween costumes! You can buy items like in a normal shop but you can also trade some of your old clothing for cash so you can buy something new!
Le Bal Infernal (Ghent)
If you love books and coffee, this is just the place for you! Le Bal Infernal is a used book café in Ghent where you can sit and have a coffee while admiring their huge collection of used books. All the books are second-hand, which is already nice to begin with as second-hand boos tend to have their own character. But next to the boos being second-hand you don’t have to buy them (but you can if you want to), you can also switch one out for one of your own boos that you don’t read anymore.
Not a shop, just a bookcase in a hidden porch of the Dutch capital. The idea is simple: you can take any of the books you find in the Ruilboekenkast, but in exchange you should leave one. Most of them are in Dutch, and the assortment changes often and, apparently, it’s always pretty good. This type of initiatives with books have been spreading around fast – just be nice and play by the rule of the game: take only if you are ready to leave something!
Isola Pepe Verde (Milan)
Hidden among the glossy glassy skyscrapers that have been changing Milan’s skyline in the last year, you will have to search carefully for a tiny green plot of land where greenery grows undisturbed and luxuriant. Isola Pepe Verde is right in the middle of the city’s new, recently developed business area, but it seems miles away from the hustle and bustle of Milan. This shared garden is run by associations of people who have decided to create a space for everyone to go and enjoy a bit of green, in a city that is often considered very grey.
Salz Club (Berlin)
Happens often to hear people complaining about how hard is to find a good, not too pricey venue to throw a party. Well, in Berlin you can rent an amazing space for free. In the Charlottenburg area, Salz Club offers its room(s) for free – the only thing is that, in exchange, you will buy their alcohol. Every now and then Salz Club also hosts a party called ‘WataLilly’. On top of that, it also counts on a beach on the Spree river, which is just great during the summertime.
Offener Bücherschrank (Vienna)
In Vienna you can find open bookcases, Offener Bücherschrank, on three different spots throughout the city. The idea behind them is that you can have a look and see if there’s anything in there for you, if you can leave anything of yours there and then bring back the book you borrowed. This way you can discover cool new books, but also give a new life to the books you don’t like anymore!
Kelet Kávézó és Galéria (Budapest)
A coffee place and a space for cultural nights and events: that’s what Kelet Kávézó és Galéria is, indeed a cute spot of the Hungarian capital. Its first floor is home to some thousands of books. Read one of them while you’re having lunch or sipping one of their coffees chosen from their extensive selection or, in case you are willing to leave one of yours, do it and bring a new one home.
Knjižnica reči (Ljubljana)
Apparently, the sharing economy model has been taking root fast in Ljubljana, and it’s working well too. However, Knjižnica reči (the Library of things) has taken the whole concept to another level. It’s called library but, in fact, anything you bring and take from here is items that you might sometimes need but, on a daily basis, you really don’t (leave a hoover – take a hoe, for example). Everyone can become a member – by paying either a symbolic fee or leaving some equipment.
Named after Ukrainian’s most famous and beloved poet, Shevchenko‘s walls are covered with his poems written in pencil or coal. This traditional restaurant offers a tasty menu and has a fine choice of homemade liquors. But the sharing economy bit here is that, if you own a copy of Shevchenko’s Kobzar book, you can trade it here for a present: it could be a dish, a bottle, or a whole meal.
What’s your favorite sharing initiative in your city (or another)? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter!