Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Missing Market

The school at which I teach seems to lack a good system for distributing used goods. Occasionally someone will send around an email offering an extra file cabinet or desk to whoever will pick it up, and it is invariably snatched up in minutes. There must be other items that could be reallocated if there existence was publicized. I've talked to students who have desks, televisions, and other items that they would like to get rid of. Their only option is to put signs up around campus advertising.

I think there is an opportunity for some enterprising individual to set up a used goods website--a Craigslist sort of site, devoted to this school. My previous university had just such a thing, although that school was much bigger than this one, and could perhaps easily spare people to work on it. This school, so far as I can tell, has no central message board at all. I talked about this with a colleague, and he contacted Craigslist, asking them if they might have some sort of college or university version that they could provide. The reply was that they were understaffed and incredibly busy managing their current system, and they could not branch out into anything else at the moment. Of course, students could use eBay, but that seems silly given that their potential customers are living within walking distance.

Isn't this an opportunity waiting for some clever individual? Surely there must be a simple way to set up a site that could fulfill this purpose. Wouldn't something as simple as a bulletin board system work? Are there any particular systems that someone who is barely competent with html could implement? Suggestions are welcome. If it proved necessary, I could work with students to set up such a site using off-campus resources, and perhaps fund it with Google Ads (or whatever other ad service would work--although I suspect the ads wouldn't generate enough revenue to pay the costs involved; it would be something of a work of charity).