It all started in 2014 when friends Emma, James & Bex came across a borrowing shop in Berlin. Our continental counterparts, it turns out, are borrowing all sorts of tools, tents, tea urns and useful things from a place in their community, so they don't have to buy them. It's genius! 

'Why doesn't that exist in the UK?' we asked ourselves. 

So we chatted to The Open Works, a community hub near us. They found us some free temporary space in West Norwood Library and we were ready to go.

To test the whole lending idea, we spent a few weekends visiting community fairs, knocking on doors, and standing on the high street with an assortment of bizarre items.

We wanted the interior of our space to be made of re-used materials so we worked with locals to fashion furniture from wooden pallets and old lockers.

We opened our doors with baited breath. Would anyone come? 

People came in droves! They donated all sorts of useful things like tools, strimmers, suitcases and pasta makers. And they started to borrow things:

'Have you got a satnav?', 'When will your wallpaper steamer be returned?', 'How do I use this circular saw?'

After being open for ten Saturdays, we had racked up over 100 happy members and seen over 1,000 people come through our doors. When we came to tidy up after the pilot scheme was over, we even found a queue of people asking where we'd gone!

'Time to make this happen', we concluded over a pint.

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