How to borrow everything in Toronto
Paying money for things is so passé. Instead of shelling out for a new vacuum or fancy frock, Toronto is suddenly full of various “libraries” that let you rent anything you need—totally free of charge. Here’s how to borrow everything from a popcorn popper to a hacksaw in the city.
For practically anything
The Sharing Depot, Toronto’s newest (and Indiegogo-funded) library of things, opened in April on the Danforth. It stocks a 200-strong assortment of items people may use, say once a year—camping or hiking gear, for instance—but might not care to invest in. In addition to tents and tennis racquets, borrowers can also find a huge selection of board games, party supplies and kids’ toys.
Coolest find: A 1950s-style vintage popcorn popper, which can seriously up your movie night game.
Fine print: Memberships range from $25—$100 per year, with the latter granting access to monthly swapping events and workshops hosted at the space (as well as no additional fees on high-demand items). Depending on your membership level, everything must be returned within four to seven days, and late fees start at $1 per day.
Anyone who doesn’t own a tricked-out tool box—but does own things that break (or are broken)—will appreciate the Toronto Tool Library. The city’s two locations (inside the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre and at Danforth and Coxwell) are filled with more than 5,000 practical tools, from simple screwdrivers to large power saws. Members also get discounted access to high-tech services such as 3D printing and laser cutting. For an additional fee ($100 per month) members can sign on to join the library’s Makerspace community, which provides 24/7 access to a full woodshop.
Coolest find: Some very funky ‘80s safety glasses.
Fine print: Basic memberships range from $50—$100 a year, the priciest of which has no additional fees for power tools, seven-day rentals and access to all locations.
For formal gowns
Pret-a-Preter is a clothing library with more than 150 dresses, coats and accessories—perfect for partiers who want a brand-new look without the wallet hit. In addition to the glam vintage gowns on its website, the Bathurst Street studio also boasts an extensive collection of modern apparel, including high-end designer pieces from Clover Canyon and Versace. Renters in need of a bit of sartorial advice can also take advantage of the shop’s personal styling services.
Coolest find: This cotton fringed dress is a popular find on the site, and would be especially great for 1920s-themed parties (Gatsby Garden Party, anyone?). It can be rented for $35.
Fine print: Membership is free, but garment rentals start at $25 and accessories at $5. The rental price isn’t based on retail cost, but on how difficult it is to clean the garment, meaning fancy designer gear can be snagged pretty cheaply.
For kitchen gear
It’s pretty hard to impress a guest with handmade pasta if you don’t have a pasta maker. Luckily, The Kitchen Library’s two locations (Eglinton East and Regent Park) are fully stocked with cool appliances that can instantly elevate a night of culinary entertaining, but that probably aren’t integral enough to warrant taking up prime cupboard real estate year-round. Among the items available to check out are a fondue set, ice cream maker, slow-cooker, spiralizer and dehydrator.
Coolest find: A cake pop maker that bakes treats in under four minutes. (Or maybe this alphabet cookie cutter.)
Fine print: Memberships are $9 a month, and appliances can be rented out for seven days.
The Toronto Seed Library gives anyone the opportunity to grow their own organic fruits and veggies. With 20 branches in the city, the library hosts regular events (like “Seedy Saturdays“) that act as seed swaps, where planters can diversify their gardens by bringing in old seeds and seedlings and acquiring new ones for free. These exchanges also usually feature workshops, fresh local food or a speaker.
Coolest finds: It depends on the event, but attendees can usually expect lots of herbs, veggies, and leafy greens like red russian kale.
Fine print: Though most events are free, a donation to a local food charity is often encouraged.