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Building A Sharing Economy One Tool At A Time

Brent Harris Shares How the Saint John Tool Library is Breeding Innovation in the Community

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In This Episode

Have you ever needed just the right tool to do one DIY project at your home or business, but the price tag for the tool makes it not feasible? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to walk in somewhere and check out a tool like you do a library book? Well, in Saint John, NB Brent Harris has joined the growing sharing economy movement and is providing people with just that opportunity. 

Brent shares the motivation to create the Saint John Tool Library. He talks about the challenges of the different business models that membership-based social enterprise that’s focused on making a difference versus making profit faces and shares with us the impact he sees an organization like his can have on a community level. 

Episode Breakdown

First 10 Minutes
We hear about Dave and Greg’s poker game before we meet our guest for this week, Brent Harris. We learn about Brent’s pitch for the tool library as an effort to put high-cost tools in the hands in as many people as possible if it would help with the repair of the local Saint John community. Brent explained the business model of the tool library and who the primary audience is for using the services. The group discusses the business model and the difference between for-profit, non-profit, charity structures.

10 Minutes – 20 Minutes
The group talks about the shift in the audience that is using the tool library and the impact it has created. The group discusses the social impact and impact everyone purchasing tools can have on our environment. 

20 Minutes – 30 Minutes 
The group talks through the challenges of this type of business model and the price point. Brent shares how it’s a balance of sticking to the mission and still having enough income coming in to keep the doors open. Dave asks about what the most significant learning Brent has had in the last two years, and he speaks to how vital building community is to long term sustainability. 


Brent Harris

Brent Harris

Founder and Director Saint John Tool Library

Brent Harris is the founder and director of the Saint John Tool Library. He is interested in developing unique approaches to curb our consumerism, address waste, and empower average citizens to maintain and care for their homes and neighbourhoods.

The Tool Library and Brent have won some awards from the Saint John Regional Chamber as well as Build Magazine for their work, especially around their community build program which aims to restore a culture of barn raising to Saint John.

About Saint John Tool Library

We are a coalition of makers, builders, moms, dads, granddads, grammies, contractors, Do-It-Yourselfers…you get the picture, there are a lot of us from many walks of life. Why would this smorgasbord of people join forces, you ask? Because there is power in sharing. That’s what we are about. We share our tools, our experience and our advice with each other. We exist to inspire and revitalize Saint John. 

A tool library is exactly what it sounds like: a library of tools. A membership with us earns you access to thousands of dollars worth of tools and a community of people who can help you with all your project needs. Our DIY centre is our fully equipped shop and Makerspace for our top-tier members to use for even their more serious projects. It is also our learning lab for our trades education course and workshops. 

Together we hope to revitalize our community, connect with our neighbours, and rediscover the beauty of our city. There are a hundred reasons why our members have joined, and much more to discover. All we are missing is you!