Richard Meyer of Boise considered selling his motorhome last year. He even listed it on Craigslist.
Then OutdoorToyShare .com, an Idaho start-up, reached out to see if he’d prefer to rent the motorhome and keep it.
Less than a year later, Meyer expects to make a profit off his motorhome ownership in 2016 — a success story Outdoor Toy Share founder Kyle Sales of Eagle hopes to make more common.
“If I wasn’t renting it, I’m only using it three to six times a year,” Meyer said. “That’s it. And the rest of the time it’s just sitting. ... There’s a little bit of risk involved but so far the people who have rented it have taken really good care of it and returned it clean. I haven’t had any trouble other than racking up the miles.”
Sales quietly launched the website last year in Boise, McCall and Coeur d’Alene to test his system. He has started marketing it this spring and has a presence in McCall, Coeur d’Alene, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other markets.
The primary “toys” are boats and RVs. Sales rents his own boat through the website.
“We get so many people (renting boats) that have a ton of experience,” Sales said. “For them, the math just didn’t work to continue ownership. I’ve got two little kids — a 1-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter — so we don’t get out as much as we would ordinarily. A lot of people would sell. We’ll use it five times, I’ll rent it out another 20.
“We’re changing what ownership looks like because we’re allowing folks to offset really all of their costs and make money and use the thing as much as they want.”
Treasure Valley resident Eric Parkinson stumbled on Outdoor Toy Share last summer when he wanted to rent a boat. He rented one for two days.
“Honestly, the first little bit was a little nerve-racking because I was signing up on a new site,” Parkinson said. “... The boat showed up and it was as promised. We’re already going to rent the same boat the first weekend of June. It was a good experience.”
Registration is free for owners and renters on OutdoorToyShare.com. The website screens renters through background checks and provides insurance. Owners have the final say on whether to accept a rental request.
Renters pay the rental fee, a portion of the insurance cost (the company pays the rest) and sales tax. Owners receive the rental revenue, minus 30 percent for the company. The insurance covers the owner, the renter and the asset.
Sales would like to add inventory to the site, particularly boats that would rent for less than $300 per day.
“We’ve been really happy with the traction that we’ve gotten,” he said. “We’re really focused on building the marketplace in the right way, which is to say matching supply and demand. We want our owners to get activity, to get rentals. We’re cognizant of the demand. It kills me a little bit inside every time I have to respond to a renter that we don’t have stuff.”
He hopes Outdoor Toy Share separates itself by combining several types of toys into one site. Other potential rental items include jet skis, ATVs and snowmobiles.
“You hear with boats that the best two days are the day you buy it and the day you sell it,” Sales said. “We want to introduce that third option for somebody like me who doesn’t use it as much as they’d like, and that’s OK.
“Oftentimes, you feel a sense of this thing is sitting and not being used enough and I’m paying for it. It’s this burdensome thing.”
Two to three weeks of rentals can cover a year’s worth of ownership cost, including loan payments, Sales said.
Meyer has booked his motorhome for about 60 days this summer, including a renter’s trip to the Indianapolis 500 car race. He expects to do well enough to start putting profit aside toward possibly buying a new one.
Family members warned him against renting because of the possibility of damage.
“But in the end, my wife and I decided to do it, and so far it’s worked out well,” he said.