Any agent knows how stressful moving can be for clients. Many don’t realize how much clutter they have accumulated over the years until they have to pack it all up in boxes and move it somewhere else. That’s why longtime friends and Chicago natives Alex Pearsall and Angus Frost created BinSwap.
Here’s how it works: BinSwap drops plastic storage bins off at a client’s house so they can fill them up with anything that they might not need at the moment, such as holiday decorations and seasonal clothes. Once the bins are full, BinSwap takes them to their storage facility and holds onto them until the client needs them again. When the client does need their stuff back, BinSwap delivers the bins right back to their door.
“BinSwap came out of a culmination of needs we saw in the marketplace,” Frost said. While working as a real estate developer, Pearsall noticed that there was a demand for short-term storage that was more affordable and convenient than traditional self-storage.
Stephanie Biederman of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has been referring clients to BinSwap for almost a year now. “I need a tool that’s easy for them, and BinSwap is all about convenience,” Biederman said, adding that the service is a value-add for her business as well. “As an agent, the more resources I have to help them out, the more valuable I become.”
Of course, BinSwap isn’t the only service offering this type of storage, but it does have a unique philanthropic twist. BinSwap gives their clients the option to select a local school or organization to which the company will then donate 25 percent of their proceeds every month that the client uses BinSwap’s services. The company has contributed over $5,000 since beginning the program, through monetary donations and complimentary storage. As a real estate professional who’s focused on the health of the community as much as she is the health of her business, that makes a difference for Biederman. “BinSwap is very open and community-oriented,” she said. “The company has always given back.”
Now, thanks to their connection with Biederman, Pearsall and Frost have recently found a new way to give back. Inspired by one of Biederman’s clients who’d found 20 bags of stuff to donate while packing belongings into bins, the two decided to begin offering free delivery of donations to the Salvation Army, The Brown Elephant and other charities. If clients find items that they no longer need or want while packing up, BinSwap will donate them for the client for no extra charge.
Launched in May 2018, BinSwap currently serves 45 neighborhoods in Chicago, as far south as Cermak Road and as far north as Howard Street. The founders have begun expansion into suburban markets, starting with service in Oak Park and River Forest.
BinSwap provides complimentary online inventory for its customers where they can add photos and descriptions of the items in each bin in order to keep track of what they have in storage, which gives clients the ability to schedule the delivery of individual items and bins as needed.
“One of our goals is getting people to think about their storage in a different way,” said Frost, who handles the company’s information technology.
BinSwap is currently having a spring promotional sale; those who put their belongings in storage before June 30 will be charged $5 per month per bin for the next year, as opposed to the company’s standard price of $7.50 per month per bin. “We want to challenge people to live smaller,” said BinSwap Chief Marketing Officer Mandy Yuille.
Future plans include a system that would notify clients when an item has been in storage for a while and offer to sell, rent or donate the item for the client. The company’s founders are also hoping to offer more organizing services in the future, such as professionals who specialize in packing, cleaning and decluttering.