I don’t get it. What is Closest Closet?
Closest Closet is free online tool used to connect with people near you for borrowing and lending items, sharing or receiving help with tasks (skill-sharing), recycling or receiving unwanted items, bartering and/or trading good or services, supporting local economies, and making a commitment to live more responsibly within our communities. We do this for free. If you’ve ever wished that communities just “helped” one another, this is where you want to be.
How does Closest Closet work?
Members of this community post and respond to classified ads.
These are items that are being given away. The items could be anything that has the potential to be reused by someone else. This includes ANYTHING. From clothes, furniture, to shopping bags and toilet paper tubes. ANYTHING. If nobody wants it, it simply won’t be requested. Place an ad here if you hope to keep something from the trash, or can offer it prior to going to a donation center. Answer an ad here if you could use something listed.
These are items that you may lend or borrow. Why buy what you can borrow? When you borrow vs. buy, you make a few really powerful statements. I don’t have to “own” an item I can borrow for a short time. I don’t need to spend money on this item. I don’t need another one of these items to exist on our planet, and I care about conserving the resources that already exist around me. Place an ad here for items you can share. Answer and ad here for items you would like to borrow.
These are things that we are good at, and/or are willing to help others with. Perhaps you sew or knit, can fix a leaky sink or an air conditioner, can take a blood pressure, or share your knowledge about animals. Every time you you offer a skill or service for free, you are contributing to CHANGE. If we want people to stop acting like everything needs to be done for money, we need to stop doing everything for money. It’s doing these simple things that creates your community, and pulls your community closer. Place an ad here for what you can offer, answer an ad here for something you need help with.
In general, consider a skill-share listing about one “session” of whatever skill that is per month unless otherwise stated. (Create duplicate ads in the skill-share section if you are willing to offer the skill-share more than once per month. EX: Learn to knit Session 1, Learn to knit session 2, Learn to knit session 3. By placing three different ads, you will be given credit for 3 of your 10 required ads, but more about that later).
These are items we would like to borrow, skills we need help with or would like to learn, or items we could use. Place an ad here if you would like to request something from your community. Answer an ad here if you can fulfill someone’s wish. Check these listings before you post an ad in another category. It could save you some time.
These are paid ads at $12 per year for local businesses or organizations that supply local foods. Consider supporting these local businesses and support your local economy and neighbors. Place an ad here if you would like to inform your community about your local foods.
These are paid ads at $12 per year for local businesses or organizations that supply local goods or services. Consider supporting these local businesses and support your local economy and neighbors. Place an ad here if you would like to inform your community about your local goods or services.
This is our member feedback system used to encourage positive interactions within your community. It’s pretty simple. Just post an ad in the category “feedback” with the title “feedback” and leave the ad blank. The Closest Closet team will generate a uniform feedback post for you after you submit it. Anyone will be able to leave comments and feedback for you. Just invite them to do so.
If you’d like to barter a service or trade items, this is the place to connect with those who may be interested.
Closest Closet Free Markets
Currently, a Free Market in Scarborough, Maine occurs once a month. We are also currently working on two Closest Closet locations in Portland, Maine. If you would like to start a Free Market near you, please contact me at email@example.com and I will help you get started. If you would like to offer your place of business or your home as a Closest Closet location, please let me know and we can discuss what that would entail.
Are there membership requirements at Closest Closet? How do I become a contributing member?
Closest Closet works when “requiring” that all members “share” ten items and/or skills in any combination of their own choosing. This means that before a member can make a request of any other member, we all must first have this requirement met. Members place the ads within “local lending” and/or “skill-sharing” categories and when the minimum is met, the ability to contact other members is unlocked. We do this to encourage all members to share, because in a local community of 100 active members sharing ten items and/or skills, 1,000 items remain listed at any given time. This is what true sustainability is about people! It’s not rocket science. (Sorry, I get passionate sometimes). By requiring members to participate in order to make requests, we remind each other that we ALL have something to offer our communities, no matter what society has said about what our items or skills are worth monetarily. It also teaches us what it means to live in a community by reminding us that we are all responsible for giving AND taking. If we had a community of the majority willing to take, but the minority willing to give,….what kind of a community would that be?
How do I make a request for a free item or skillshare at Closest Closet?
You’ll notice that when viewing an ad, there is a tab behind the map (to the right of the ad) that says “contact.” If you have the minimum required ads, a form will be available for you to contact the member via email.
What if I can’t find or think of 10 items to share or teach the Closest Closet community?
EVERY household has 10 items and/or skills to list. Offering your 10 items is crucial to a successful community. Receiving begins with GIVING. Be creative. Take the time to actually thoughtfully consider what you own or can do. Somewhere along the line, a lot of us have learned that we can’t do anything or we don’t have anything of value because it’s not attached to a large number with a dollar sign in front of it. Others of us are accustomed to being victims of our own circumstances. But if you can walk….you can walk a dog. If you have arms and hands, you can rake leaves for an elderly person near you. If you have a car, you can partner with someone and pick up groceries for them while you happen to be at the store anyway. If you have ears, you can listen to someone who is ill, injured, sad….whatever. We ALL (and let me emphasize: ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL) have unique gifts and talents that we can offer to those around us that are worth more than a few dollars to those who need a hand. It’s the simple act of putting these gifts and talents to use that make a community strong, sustainable, and FREE.
Can anyone be a member of Closest Closet?
Anyone over 18 can join. We love teenagers and kids, and they (or you) have the same opportunities to give and receive. If you have children who can rake leaves, or shovel snow, or walk dogs, just list that in your own account. Kids and teens, use a parents account.
How much does it cost to be a member of Closest Closet?
It’s free. There are a couple of local directories that offer paid ads at a small fee of $12 per year. We do this because Closest Closet does in fact have expenses, and small businesses have a unique opportunity to reach the communities they serve through their use of Closest Closet. We encourage all of our members, and YOU, to buy and eat local. If an item you are looking for doesn’t exist, please find the local establishment that can serve your needs.
What is your mission?
To foster community, conserve resources, and positively influence our culture. (That’s not to much to ask, is it)?
How do I know I will get my items back from a Closet Closet community member?
ClosestCloset.Com is a portal to connect community members that you KNOW first. If someone you do not know makes a request, you should speak to the member, ask for and check references, and/or review feedback information provided on the site (If feedback is available). If none is available, act as you would for any other arrangement in your community. Perhaps you may outline the terms of your contract in writing. It may even be reasonable for you and the member to provide or receive a cash/check deposit for the replacement value of an item in the event that the item is not returned. The idea here is….talk to your neighbors. Work it out. This is what communities should never have stopped doing in the first place.
However, if you feel uncomfortable after speaking to someone, they cannot produce references, or have negative feedback (if available), you may decline the request. You are never “obligated” to lend and item or provide a service by having the item listed. In theory, people making requests of your items should be members of your community, live close by, and would most likely know some of the same people and/or frequent some of the same local businesses as you do. You NEVER have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, or release your items to people you cannot establish a reasonable relationship with. But remember, if you are making requests, and denying others requests, this may very well result in negative feedback for you, and that could influence other people’s willingness to provide you with your requests.
There may be occasions that a community member is traveling, and requests an item while away from home. This is a reasonable request and may be treated as any other request. Check references, utilize the feedback information on the site, outline your contract in writing if you wish, perhaps take a deposit. Even though they may not be part of your “local” community, we are still a global community of people.
I got an email from a Closest Closet member, but it doesn’t have a return email address. How do I reply?
When you get an email from a community member, it does appear that it is “from” firstname.lastname@example.org, but when you choose to reply, the requesting member’s email address will populate your “to” field. If you choose to reply, your email address will be shared with this member. Keep in mind, the member would not have been able to contact you unless the member has met the minimum number of ads, and they have been approved by the Closest Closet moderator.
How do I respond to an ad?
When viewing an ad, there is a map to the right side of your screen, showing a general location of the item or skill listed. There are three tabs above the map. One is for the map, one for contact, the other for “poster.” The contact form allows you to email the member directly, and the “poster” tab gives you some general information about the poster.
After an ad, there is a space to “leave a reply.” These replies DO NOT GET SENT TO THE POSTER! Please don’t use this space to ask a question or make a request. Please use this section ONLY if you have something to say about the ad. For example: You are reading an ad about a lawn mower available for loan. The person who owns the lawn mower is your neighbor and you’ve used this lawn mower before. Go ahead and leave a reply specific to the lawn mower….i.e…It works great, it’s really new, I want to buy one for myself…etc. Please do not leave member feedback here. We have member feedback ads for that.
Can I decline a request?
Every reasonable request should be honored, but yes, declining a request is ALWAYS your right. If you do not know the person making the request, they have no feedback for you to make a reasonable assumption of accountability, or they cannot produce references, you should decline the request. However, denying requests without reason is contrary to the mission and goals of this site. Please don’t post ads for items or services you don’t intend to loan or provide. Denied users should report any denials that they feel are unfair or unwarranted. Denials may also result in unfavorable member feedback, so please carefully consider your reasons for declining a request.
Remember, just as you cannot make requests unless you meet the minimum requirements, other cannot make requests of you unless they meet the same requirement. We all have to be willing to put ourselves out there if we expect others to do the same. We are all in this together, and this community is available to create CHANGE, not to continue behaving the way we always have.
What if my request is denied?
Consider whether or not you have references listed in your profile. You can list references names and contact information in your description, or state that the information is available upon request. If you are a new user, and feedback information has not yet been generated, providing references may be the only way for members to confirm you are a responsible member of the community. We do suggest that you ask your reference’s permission prior to giving their contact information to other community members.
Make sure that you have provided some details about yourself in your profile description. Mention the businesses that you frequent and your favorite places in your community. This helps to bridge the gap between members who might be meeting you for the first time, and helps to affirm that you are actually a member of their community.
Make sure that you provide your contact information with your request, or provide it if it is requested, so that members have a way to verify the information you have provided is correct.
Rectify any negative feedback you may receive. If you made a mistake, and the feedback is negative because it is honest, say so. Accept responsibility. We all make mistakes. Even if you have negative feedback, showing that you are responsible enough to recognize your mistake can make all the difference.
If you have made an honest effort to follow this advice, you may report your denial if you feel you have been treated unfairly. Reporting helps keep members honest, and lets us know that a member may not be an appropriate fit for this community. You may do so through emailing email@example.com.
How Do I leave Member Feedback?
We have 2 ways to do this.
Local Lending or Skill-sharing feedback: Find the ad associated with whatever transaction you had. Leave a reply to the ad leaving feedback SPECIFIC to the ad. For instance, if the ad was a skill-share for learning to knit, you could leave information about how well the person taught you to knit, how knowledgeable the person was, how much you learned, etc. If the ad was to borrow a blender, you could state that “the blender works awesome and the owner provided the manual too.”
Member feedback: After leaving feedback specific to the ad, to the right of your screen, click the “poster” tab located above the map. The username of the poster will be shown as a link. Click the link, and this will take you to the member’s profile and a list of ALL the member’s live ads. A feedback ad should be available. Click the member’s feedback ad and leave feedback SPECIFIC to the MEMBER, not what the member loaned or taught or did for you. This would be the time to talk about accountability, punctuality, and manners.
What if I don’t want someone coming to my house?
When you place a classified ad, you are asked to supply information about the location of the item listed. The only “required” information is the zip code. You could choose to leave a street name, without an exact number, or you can share your complete address, but it’s up to you. If you prefer to meet at a public place, you can make an arrangement with a community member when you work out the details of your arrangement.
How do I know where items are located?
When you view an ad, a map on the right hand screen is available. This will show you the general location of the item. The poster is only required to supply a zip code when placing the ad, so you may need to discuss the actual physical location with the poster. Currently, most ads are within the Southern Maine area, although we are starting to see ads located in other parts of the USA as well as Canada.
Why aren’t there any items in my area?
This site is BRAND NEW. Talk about us. Find us on facebook. Share ads with those you know who may like what you see. We aren’t passing the cost of advertising on to you, we are passing the responsibility of advertising on to you. This is a community effort, a grassroots effort to change attitudes, behaviors, and concepts about money, community, and personal responsibility. Getting people involved begins with YOU getting involved. So, think about what you are offering before you ask others to offer. We are all in this together.
Are there items I can’t list?
Exception: If you have a business, you can offer the services of your business if you are meeting the same criteria as the rest of the community. Please see below.
Can I list items from my business?
As long as you are meeting the requirements of the rest of the community.
For instance, let’s say you own a restaurant, and Tuesday nights are really slow. You could post a listing in the “space for use” section of “local lending” describing your restaurant and that you have a room that is never used on Tuesday’s available for meetings or gatherings at 6pm.
Another example: Let’s say you are a tutor. You could post a listing in the “skill sharing” section and state that you are willing to provide a tutoring session. This may very well generate business for you, as people would meet you and have a donated session before deciding to hire you. But, you are also meeting the needs of the community at the same time by offering a free service.
Utilizing this service for your business may very well increase your reputation in the community, generate leads, and positively effect your local community.
Do you offer advertising services?
We have two categories offering paid advertising services to promote local foods, goods, and services. If you would like us to consider another category, or a subcategory withing the two existing major categories, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.
What if I have other questions?
Your questions are important to us. If you have a question, other members may be wondering the same thing. Please email email@example.com with any questions as they arise. You can expect an answer within one or two business days.
Can I make a suggestion? Or make a comment?
ABSOLUTELY! PLEASE DO! This site is new, and we value your opinions, feedback, and suggestions to make this site a success! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are work parties?
Work parties are events in your community that require assistance. These can range from crafts for a fundraiser, to raking leaves at an elderly home, creating a garden, all the way to building a house! Who says that it can’t be done? Yuh huh! Work parties are an awesome way for members of a community to get together and accomplish something great, learn a new skill, and participate in making your community stronger. Imagine what our world would be like if we just DID this stuff for each other. THIS IS POSSIBLE.
Work parties can be posted within “Wishlists” if you would like to ask your community for help. Post an ad in “Skillsharing” if you are willing to attend work parties. Anyone can post one. Everyone should participate in them.
When posting a work party: please indicate if community members should bring any supplies if they have them, and which items will be provided. If it is warm or cold weather, indicate how one might need to dress. If the event will cover a meal time, will a meal or refreshments be provided to your volunteers or should they pack one? In general, the work party host should be prepared to meet some volunteer needs, or at least address which needs the volunteers may need to consider before obligating themselves to come. Will there be a restroom? Should children be allowed?
What are Closest Closet Free Markets?
Closest Closet Free Markets are held by members, but are open to anyone within your community. It’s like taking what we do online, and doing it in person for a couple of hours a month.
Here’s how they work:
Events are 2 hours and occur once a month.
During the first hour, anyone who comes to the event needs to bring at least 5 unwanted items with a reasonable expectation of re-use. Literally, put them on a table, the floor, a mat, whatever is set up where you are meeting, then shop among what the other participants have brought. For free.
During the second hour, anyone may come and shop among the remaining items and take what they could use. For free.
And since Closest Closet isn’t just about recycling, people can set up tables to share skills with one another, local businesses can come to share skills, information and/or samples, and people may direct trade or barter those handmade or home grown crafts or foods.
If you’d like to start one near you, just email email@example.com and I’ll help you get started.
Can I add categories?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make any category requests. We will honor all reasonable requests.
How do I join?
Registering is easy. Visit the join now link on the homepage. See you inside!