FrogBox is hoping to make a business out of helping people move, with sturdy, clean plastic boxes that can be reused hundreds of times.
Ben Cowan is local entrepreneur brought his company Frogbox to the Twin Cities. The company provides an alternative to cardboard with these boxes while making it more convenient by dropping them off and picking them up after. This was shot in Minneapolis , Minn., Friday, July 22, 2011.
Green is becoming the new brown in the moving industry with FrogBox now in town.
FrogBox, founded in 2008 in the British Columbia city of Vancouver, provides green, plastic reusable boxes for movers to rent. The company opened a FrogBox store in Minneapolis this past April.
The company has 2,000 boxes available for locals to rent and one truck that delivers and picks up the boxes across the entire metro area. In four months the company has helped with nearly 130 moves in the Twin Cities area.
Ben Cowan, a co-founder and owner of the Twin Cities FrogBox, said the boxes save time and are more environmentally friendly than a cardboard box.
"It takes a huge headache out of the moving process," Cowan said. "We can deliver the boxes, eliminate the work of putting them together, and then we come back for them."
For a two-bedroom apartment, typically 35 to 40 FrogBoxes are rented. If customers kept them three weeks, the cost is $159.
FrogBox is hoping to change what for many is a ritual of moving: finding enough cardboard boxes, acquired through dumpster diving or multiple grocery store trips. Such boxes are free, but Cowan said those boxes are typically dirty, flimsy and hard to stack. FrogBoxes are cleaned after every use -- so clean, in fact, one could eat cereal out of it.
The trick has been to market a product that has a cost to people who often pay little to nothing for cardboard boxes.
There are 19 locations, including franchises and non-franchises, in Canada and the United States. FrogBox is also in Seattle and in Boise, Idaho.
Cowan said FrogBoxes can be used 400 times, whereas the average cardboard box can only be used once or twice.
Minnetonka resident Amy Schwantes just happened to score a deal for FrogBox at one of her children's school auctions.
Because she was moving her family into a new home, she said, the coupon could not have come at a better time.
"They save me from having to hunt down cardboard boxes, paying for new boxes, labeling everything, disposing of everything, and they're so much easier," Schwantes said.
Mo Perry recently moved to Columbia Heights. During her time using FrogBox, she said, it was no-hassle and she didn't have to go through mounds of tape to make cardboard boxes.
"It just seems like an idea whose time has come," Perry said. "We had kept cardboard boxes from a different move, but they were all broken down and weren't even holding up, and the process of putting it all together, packing them, and trying to stack them was hard."
Minneapolis resident Emma Faris recently moved her grandfather from his house to an assisted living center. Packing 75 years' worth of items was supposed to be a daunting task for Faris and her family, but she said that when they used FrogBox it was quite easy.
"It's probably the best thing that happened to moving," Faris said. "You don't think it's a big deal until you do the FrogBox. You start to recognize how arduous the cardboard box is. There's no way I'd move without FrogBox."
Faris said as a real estate agent she uses FrogBox to give as a gift to clients she sells a house to. She said the gift certificates have been a hit and that her clients have found FrogBox to be easy and convenient. "This is a really great easy way to make an impact on the universe."
Cowan said he's hoping to see the company develop a partnership with local colleges, particularly for move-in days. He is also hoping to see the company get more trucks so it can help with moves to and from the Chicago area.
Marissa Evans • 612-673-4211