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Unwanted Furniture Can Be Shared With Help of Rental Service

By Serena Dai | September 15, 2015 6:01pm
 Furnishare rents out furniture for $50-per-month.
Furnishare rents out furniture for $50-per-month.
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NEW YORK CITY — Umut Ermec has lived in five apartments since moving to the New York area more than four years ago, leading him to dump his furniture several times.

Now, in his Astoria apartment, the 35-year-old audio engineer rents his couch, antique coffee table and dining table, as one of the first customers of Furnishare, a furniture rental startup that launched last month and hopes to tap into the "sharing economy."

Ermec is contemplating a move to an apartment in Manhattan in the near future, or maybe even to Los Angeles, so investing in a sofa or dining table of his own just doesn't make sense, he said.

"I don't like commitment when it comes to furniture," he said. "What if I want to move to L.A.? What if I just get bored or something?"

It's that sort of young, transient New Yorker attitude that Furnishare wants to capitalize on, said cofounders Alpay Koralturk and Rami Abramov, who are based in Midtown.

Koralturk had just gotten engaged with his now wife and was looking to furnish their apartment off Craigslist when they realized that a lot of it was likely being wasted with tenants having a difficult time transporting furniture they've bought via Craigslist to their new homes and then having trouble re-selling the items in a short time frame.

"I’ve moved five times, six times, in just about six years myself," he said. "Every single time, I remember wasting really good furniture that I didn’t find buyers in the limited amount of time that I had."

Furnishare is trying to address that conundrum of waste, he said.

"We should be able to close the gap and make it easier for people to exchange furniture and keep good quality pieces that require a lot of resources and effort," Koralturk said. "Keep them useful for a long period of time.”

The site allows people to list their lightly used furniture, which professionals examine, pick up and clean, for free.

Then, renters can choose items, starting at $50-per-month for three items with a yearlong contract. Furnishare delivers and picks up the furniture without additional fees.

Meanwhile, the furnitures' previous owners receive 50 percent of the revenue for the first two years Furnishare rents their pieces out.

It's the sharing economy taken to home decor, the founders said, taking inspiration from the business models of Airbnb and Lyft.

"Our mission really is to make a quality home affordable and sustainable for everyone," Koralturk said. "We really believe that in this society, we have the means to do it."

Furnishare currently has about 200 items in its inventory, a number that they expect to grow rapidly as they expand.

Options include a Room and Board Sabine sofa, which costs about $2,500 brand new, and a Klaussner Furniture white coffee table, which costs about $335 brand new.

They expect most of the customers to be young people who haven't settled into a long-term home yet, such as students or people from out of the country.

The service is currently available in most of Manhattan, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Astoria. Three-month and six-month subscriptions, with an option to renew on a month-to-month basis, are also available.

Beyond helping people furnish their apartments, the founders hope that in the long-term, furniture waste will decline, and the industry will be encouraged to produce higher quality items that last a long time, they said.

It's an environmental bent that Furnishare hopes will appeal to New Yorkers, too, they said.

"When [people] give their furniture to us, we’re going to do everything we can to keep it in mint condition for as long as possible," Koralturk said. "That's how we make money."