Today, we can rent just about anything you can imagine online. According to Entrepreneur, there’s big money to be made renting a variety of different products. Let’s look at some of the markets out there that are being served for rentals in ways you may have never dreamed possible.

Dream wedding gowns on a budget

It used to be that girls dreamed of wearing their mother’s or grandmother’s gown for that fateful trip down the aisle. Now, as many wedding fashions have become much more reflective of the rest of the fashion world, designs change so quickly that few women want to wear a twenty or thirty year old gown. But at the same time, the average cost of a gown is just under a grand, so not ever bride is willing to drop that kind of cash on a dress she’ll only wear once. Enter Alexandria’s, a Sacramento based bridal shop which specializes in formal wear, such as wedding gowns and prom dresses.

Got a chicken for that coop?

Raising your own chickens seems to be the most popular suburban method of getting back to the earth, but the learning curve from chick to egg is steep, and fraught with foxes and issues at the coop. Rent the Chicken encourages would-be suburban farmers to start with the fun part--eating fresh omelets. Along with a basic set up, the proprietors include a basic lesson on chicken husbandry with their rental fee!

Avoid unexpected surprises overseas

If you’ve ever traveled internationally, you may have experienced the extreme frustration of finding out that your cell phone or tablet won’t work outside of the U.S. Unless you’ve already gotten a deal with KeepGo, the company that connects customers with international SIM cards and electronics for low daily fees.

Find your finery without leaving your home

It’s not just dress wearers that have exciting rental options for finery; those who prefer tuxes can also find some enticing options at Menguin. Users don’t even have to leave their homes for a fitting! As Menguin says, they throw as much “nerd math” as possible at the problem of determining your size. They ask many questions, such as the brand and size of your favorite shirt, to figure out exactly which suit will fit you best, and on the off chance that they get it wrong, they have distribution centers placed around the U.S. which allows them to respond quickly, and get you the item you need.

Whether you’re a consumer or an entrepreneur, the fact is that the continuously expanding rental business market is fascinating. According to fellow Inc columnist Erik Sherman, depending on which rental business you’re interested in, it’s possible to enter the market without having a huge amount of capital. Renting one-of-a-kind items will probably be more expensive than setting up a marketplace where people rent their own bicycles.

If you do decide to become involved in a rental business, know that logistics and analytics are likely to become the areas where you are most likely to spend a great deal of time and effort. After all, sending an item to the person who rented it is relatively easy. Making sure that the person who expects an item gets one is somewhat more difficult. You may need warehouse space, cataloging, and the ability to anticipate what’s going to be needed next, especially if you intend to rent out items such as high end designer clothing or bags.

If an entrepreneur is considering opening a rental business, research will be key. This thread on Business Owner’s Idea Cafe offered some stellar ideas on how to succeed in running and marketing a business based around the rentals of commonplace items. Such as:

  • How will you protect yourself from rental theft? From being able to track down the person who has your rented item to being able to write off the loss and repurchase the item, having a strategy is crucial. How will you satisfy other customers while this item is tied up? Know before it happens.
  • How will you market your idea? If you expand beyond your own immediate market, how much will that cost, and how will you follow up with the customers who, inevitably, don’t pay? If you want to stay in your own market only, what are the costs and potential losses that you’ll bear?

Rental businesses are often successful because they pray on the way customers often treat items as disposable. We’ll watch this movie once, but we don’t want to have to own it. Mothers manage the way that kids grow out of, or grow bored with, toys very quickly. Our culture encourages us to spend money on very expensive formal wear, but then discourages us from wearing it again.

The rental market works to address all of these needs by offering us savings when we compare renting an item to owning it outright. Suddenly, we can afford more expensive items. After all, if it only costs you $600 to rent a handbag that retails at $12,000, you are considering very different economics.

Not all customers are interested in the rental market, of course, and not all entrepreneurs are cut out for these worlds which seem to operate on thin margins, and in great fear of loss. Should you choose to pursue this avenue of entrepreneurship, make sure that you have done the research, then dive in. You can’t learn without doing.

Published on: Sep 22, 2015