Monday, August 31, 2015

My Own Little Sharing Economy in Retirement

One of the participants in my knitting group makes beautiful earrings, and over the past couple of months I have purchased more than a few.  The other day she mentioned that she would happily trade me holiday cookie trays and baked goods for earrings. I, being my agreeable self, said "yes"!! 

I like my earrings bright, just like my clothing!

If you watch the news, there's an awful lot of talking about the sharing economy these days.  Most of what we hear in the news has to do with major players like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft, Relayrides, and Task Rabbit. In fact, I intend to explore some of these sharing options as I travel in the future.

A Land of Lakes recipe I intend to make my own. My knitting group get to be the testers, before anything else
However, as a frugal retiree on a fixed income, my perspective is more about that sharing economy at my local level. I tend to be one of those folks who want to take advantage of everything available in terms of discounts and freebies.  I just don't want it to eat into my time and effort for all those fun retirement things. This sharing thing makes that much easier, and this weekend I have been on a roll.

For example, recently, I joined Next Door. The website describes itself as a private social media platform for your neighborhood. I think it's much more. Basically, I signed on, and my address was verified. After that I created a profile-one that is only shared with my immediate community, East Heritage in Littleton, Colorado.  Once verified, I found that this was a perfect source for me to keep up on my local community and those near by.  One can post classifies, make general announcements, report lost dogs and more. 

In the past week, messages have included an all points cry for help from someone whose epileptic beagle escaped its confines and warning of a sales man knocking on doors at nine thirty at night. There was also a request for a recommendation for house painters (with many responses) and my own request for tree arborists/trimmers.  I got a notice in my email box about an upcoming festival that I had not seen mentioned anywhere else. I listed broncos quilts for sale. My son added mention of his odd jobs services and had some requests for information. A quick daily check in keeps me up to date with happenings in my community and those surrounding me, and to contact with neighbors I might not otherwise have met. 

Yesterday, a woman in a nearby neighborhood offered up for free 20 yards of improved dirt that she had been adding to and improving for ten years, as she was breaking down her garden beds. A quick trip this morning yielded a truck bed full of really good dirt, and about twenty paving/landscape flagstones.  In addition to making a new neighbor, we (and other neighbors) saved her from having to haul stuff away.  My son may have a new client!  With the cost of landscaping being what it is, this was my kind of deal!!  I wish I had something like this (instead of getting a million spam emails and calls from Craigslist) two years ago when I was giving away for free the immense play structure that the previous owner left in the lower lawn! 
Selling off of the front porch!

I'm into both the sharing economy and cottage business and Denver is pretty good about supporting both of those. Yesterday, I drove to visit a friend, who is the first person authorized by Denver to have a garden/produce/farm related business in their front yard. Debra has turned her urban back yard into an oasis that has chickens, honey, and a large garden with everything from tomatoes to figs. She is also looking to make seasoned rubs and healing salves. We bought honey, figs and more at a reasonable rate, and I plan to make garden aprons for her to use as well. She may have even inspired me to start a seasonal cookie and baking business-but more on that later.

After our drive to Green Gate Farms, we may a quick trip to Mile High Thrift, the absolute best thrift store in Denver. Some folks may not see thrift stores as a sharing economy, but I purchased four short sleeved tops, three long sleeved tops, two sweaters and a designer purse for an average of $2 each, some with the tags still on.  The person who donated the wrong sized/wrong color clothing could have sold them, cut them up or thrown them out, so I consider them to be shared-and always share my own downsizing results.
More yellow, with a little pumpkin added.

I recently discovered Facebook "groups", and I now belong to the Littleton Yard Sale group, the Littleton Swap and Sell group, and a group for those of us who make and sell things.  I had a boatload of sewing patterns including those for youngsters. A quick post had takers, and I left the patterns in a bag on the porch for pickup. I put the word out that I'm looking for leftover craft supplies for my homeless women.  I let people know that I would trade Broncos handmade quilts or other things I make for someone who would take pictures for me, and someone who would set up my online store.  I have takers in both areas.

And finally, a neighbor about half a mile away has built (or bought and installed) a mini library exchange at the front of the yard.  Available books depend on the supply.  Since when I do buy paper novels (as opposed to downloading them), it's generally at the thrift store, there is generally a walk to the mini library afterwards. 

Most of us who are in groups (church or otherwise), or interact with our neighbors share in one way or another. Sometimes we carpool. In Washington DC, there was a spot where you could stand and wait for a ride to the outer suburbs. Folks would recognize you or stop and say where they were going. To my knowledge this system is still in effect. We have potlucks where people bring different dishes and share different talents. We share seed cuttings, and some times had babysitting coops in younger days.  I've always been a big fan of sharing both as a way of saving costs and as a way of socializing.

It seems some friends and the good ole Internet have allowed me to bring all that to a new level!


  1. Love this post! I think it's fabulous to trade skill for skill! :) Such a wonderful way to get what you need and help others with their needs/wants as well! Also love that "library box"!!

  2. What a coincidence. I too just joined Next Door. And those little libraries? They abound in Seattle. As a retired librarian I love seeing those.

  3. Gorgeous earrings. I bet you are a good cook.

  4. I have never seen books being given away like that. It is pretty interesting. I don't think the people in CA. have the manners for that type of exchange.

  5. Sounds like a great resources; I gotta check it out. Love the mini-library!


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