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Quick Hits: Strapped Consumers Flock to Online Rentals


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

As layoffs skyrocket and attics are scrounged for any sellable item, many individuals are discovering the financial prospect of online rental marketplaces.

What's good for the prom tux is good for the camcorder.

These services -- like Zilok, Divvy and Avelle -- allow users to list wares they're willing to rent out with a guarantee the item will be returned. Unlike eBay or Amazon's marketplace, a rental market's repeat business allows multiple sales of the same item to different users, which is more lucrative for the seller and less pricey for the customer. And for those who still have sentimental attachments to the product, the sellers will eventually have their possessions returned.

Gary Cige, co-founder of Zilok, believes the rental market will continue to grow as the credit and banking crises worsen. According to Cige, the items offered on Zilok has increased 25% per month in the last year.

"People have difficulties making ends meet at the end of the month; they try to find ways to save money and to earn a little more," Cige said.

Depending on the item being offered, the savings can be in the hundreds or thousands. For example, a brand new Nintendo (NTDOY) Wii with an extra controller, nunchuk attactment and Wii Play game could run you over $300. However, a recent listing on Zilok offers the entire package for only $15 per day - an immense savings for the cash-strapped gamer who only needs a quick Wii fix.

So in the coming months, eBay (EBAY) and Amazon (AMZN) may not be the online marketplaces to watch.

That is, unless they start allowing users to rent their wares.
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