Local dad creates toy rotation subscription service
A frustrated parent didn’t have to travel to see a mountain. He found it in his basement, a bunch of toys and games and barely used things his kids played with for a few weeks before giving up.
Jay Gamey looked at the stack, with items falling out of storage lockers, as he exercised in his basement in February. Then the father of three had an idea: Sharesies.
“Kids want an endless toy box, so let’s give them an endless supply of toys,” said Gamey, 37, explaining the Sharesies base.
Rotating toys, for a limited number of days. Then they move on to the next family.
Gamey’s new business is a sharing service. Members choose up to 10 toys, games and recreational supplies to use during a 90-day cycle and return them when the time is up. Gamey cleans and disinfects the items and delivers them to the next group.
“We spend a lot of money providing the game, and it ends up piling up around the house,” Gamey said. “There (is) a better way to do it.”
He has seen his children – all under the age of seven – complaining about things they have seen with friends. As a former camp director, he has noticed that children’s interests change as quickly as the weather.
It took Gamey a few months to dive into Sharesies; he was never an entrepreneur. Now he’s on top of it.
“I just believe in it. When you believe in something, you go in there and you realize it,” he said.
That meant creating software, developing a business plan and ordering 1,500 items in bulk earlier this year. Gamey is currently the sole employee of Sharesies.
About 150 people signed up within three weeks of launching the business in October. After someone creates a toy bundle online, Gamey delivers them, in a reusable box, to their doorstep. The service is available to residents of Winnipeg and some surrounding communities.
Families can trade in as many toys as they want – for $ 7 trade-in – during the 90-day period by ordering online. When the 90 days are up, they choose a brand new pack, unless they end their auto-renewing subscription.
Using environmentally friendly, kid-safe products, Gamey cleans and sanitizes items, room by room, and preps them for the next family.
“I hope Sharesies will create some kind of community of people who are aware that we don’t need to acquire these items, throw away all of this packaging,” he said.
Items that are past their prime for Sharesies could be donated to a daycare or recycled, Gamey said. Until then, they are tagged “new” to “beloved” online.
Gamey aims to reduce waste. Eventually, he wants warehouse space and a pan-Canadian operation.
“Sharing is great, especially if you use something four times a year or less,” said Colleen Ans, Living Green Program Coordinator, Living Well for the Green Action Center.
Plastic – which many toys are made of – takes hundreds of years to decompose in landfills, Ans said. And, the more people buy, the more resource extraction for goods is required, she said.
“It’s really great to… get out of the consumer mindset that we need more and more things, and find out how we can share and reuse things and really make them last to get the most out of the items for years, “said Ans.
Eighty-six percent of plastic waste in Canada went to landfill in 2016, according to a report commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Nine percent was recycled, four percent was incinerated with energy recovery, and one percent was released into the environment.
People who want to know more about Sharesies can visit www.sharesies.co.