Remember the days when you actually borrowed a cup of sugar from your neighbor? Growing up, I remember my folks and the other neighbors around us were practically a revolving door of borrowing items and helping each other out. We shared almost everything. Tools, household items, toys, party supplies, tables, even gardening space. It was a time when going to our neighbors for something was our first option, not our last.
Boy, have times changed. Today, asking to borrow something from your neighbor is not nearly as common as it used to be. There seems to be this fine line of not wanting to take advantage of them, or the notion that we might feel like they might feel we are taking advantage of them. The social pressures today have significantly changed the way we view these relationships then we did 20 years ago. When and where did our neighborly interactions die as we have moved into the digital age? We connect daily with people all around the world but we no longer know the names of the people living right next door.
It’s such a tragedy really, that our connections online have mitigated the need for physical face-to-face communication. We no longer feel comfortable asking for something next door because the barrier of social interaction with them is well, confrontational. Instead, we hop on Amazon and wait for that item to arrive on our doorstep just two days later. More stuff. More to store. More to maintain.
Recently, I have had the opportunity to help with the marketing side of a company that is driven to fix this very thing. The company is named CornerSwap. Their vision: changing the way we use the free market. It’s an online marketplace where users can buy, sell, rent, borrow, loan and even giveaway goods & services with the people nearby. What sets this platform apart from the others is that the company’s intention is to truly fill the needs of the users without capitalizing on them. Unlike most marketplace sites, that tack on additional transaction fees to make a profit off their users, CornerSwap wants sellers to get every dime they deserve. And ideally, users will gravitate toward CornerSwap’s grassroots purpose: goodwill toward each other. It’s the first marketplace of it’s kind. It’s a place where users care about one another and use it to better their community and their neighborhood.
Frequent users of Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, also free markets, have begun to question the trust factor on these platforms now that stories of violence and illegal transactions are becoming far too commonplace. There are just too many crazy people out there that the fear of having a physical transaction keeps many from selling or buying things through an online platform at all. With that said, CornerSwap is trying to accomplish a neighborly concept. Using the site to find items nearby, not just within the city but three doors down, people can sell/lend/give items to each other and also build trust in their neighborhood. Which is what the company would love to see happen: a turn in the road with the digital marketplace, one that actually encourages the face-to-face interaction in a positive way. A place where neighbors can reconnect again.
As I began to post my own items on CornerSwap this week, my perspective changed as I walked around my home looking for things I could sell or rent out to my neighbors. I found stuff literally just collecting dust in my basement that could easily be used by someone who really needed it and yet, I could still use it when I needed it too. A garden rake, an extension ladder, a food vacuum sealer, an old Christmas tree, the complete season of Magnum PI (who doesn’t love to binge watch Tom Selleck?), and the list goes on. It was a new way of seeing my possessions. Still mine, but also offering them for my neighbors to use when I don’t need them. It might seem a bit visionary, but really, imagine a world where this very approach was routine. Where hopping on CornerSwap was our first stop before buying more, consuming more, storing more. Imagine the relationships that would evolve with neighbors and the community as we utilized this revolutionary marketplace.
Pretty cool, huh? What are your thoughts on such a platform? Do you think we can bring back trusting relationships with an online marketplace like this? What items would you want to see listed that could benefit you and your neighbors? I’d love to hear your comments!