The never-ending toy box Local dad creates toy-rotation subscription service

One frustrated parent didn’t need to travel to see a mountain. He found it in his basement, a heap of toys and games and barely used items his kids played with for a couple of weeks before abandoning.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/12/2021 (245 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One frustrated parent didn’t need to travel to see a mountain. He found it in his basement, a heap of toys and games and barely used items his kids played with for a couple of weeks before abandoning.

Jay Gamey stared at the pile, with things toppling out of storage cubbies, while exercising in his basement this February. Then, the father-of-three had an idea: Sharesies.

“Kids want a never-ending toy box, so let’s give them an endless supply of toys,” Gamey, 37, said, explaining the basis of Sharesies.

Jay Gamey the founder of Sharesies, a start-up that’s distributing toys amongst its members to be shared/swapped. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Toys on rotation, for a limited number of days. Then, on they go 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 time’s up. Gamey cleans and disinfects the items and delivers them to the next group.

“We spend a lot of money on providing play, and it ends up collecting in the house,” Gamey said. “There (is) a better way to do this.”

Sharesies members choose up to 10 toys, games and recreational supplies to use during a 90-day cycle and return them when time’s up. Gamey cleans and disinfects the items and delivers them to the next group. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

He’s watched his children — all under the age of seven — pine for things they’ve seen at friends’ houses. As a former camp director, he noted kids’ interests change as fast as the weather.

It took a couple months for Gamey to dive into Sharesies; he’s never been an entrepreneur. Now, he’s all in.

“I just believe in it. When you believe in something, you go and you make it happen,” he said.

It meant creating software, building a business plan and ordering 1,500 wholesale items earlier this year. Gamey is the only Sharesies employee, for now.

About 150 people subscribed within three weeks of the company’s October launch. Once someone has created a toy bundle online, Gamey delivers it, in a reusable box, to the person’s door. The service is available to people in Winnipeg and some surrounding communities.

Families can swap toys as much as they’d like — for $7 a swap — within the 90-day period by ordering online. When the 90 days are up, they choose an entirely new pack, unless they end their auto-renewing membership.

Using eco-friendly and child-safe products, Gamey cleans and disinfects the items, piece by piece, and gets them ready for the next family.

“I’m hopeful that Sharesies creates a bit of a community of people who are mindful that we don’t need to be acquiring these items, throwing out all of that packaging,” he said.

Items past their prime for Sharesies might be donated to a day care or recycled, Gamey said. Until then, they’re labelled “New” through “Well-loved” online.

Gamey aims to reduce waste. Eventually, he wants a warehouse space and a cross-Canada operation.

“Sharing is great, especially if you use something four times a year or less,” said Colleen Ans, the Living Green, Living Well program coordinator for the Green Action Centre.

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 mentality that we need more and more stuff, and into how we can share and reuse things and really make them last to get the most out of the items for years,” Ans said.

Eighty-six per cent of plastic waste in Canada entered landfills in 2016, according to a report commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Nine per cent was recycled, four per cent was incinerated with energy recovery, and one per cent leaked into the environment.

People who want to learn more about Sharesies can visit www.sharesies.co.

gabrielle.piche@winnipegfreepress.com

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