BUSINESS BEAT: a local resource in a world of online classifieds

Looking for a job, a new car, maybe trying to get rid of an old set of bunk beds? is a resource not to be overlooked.

Looking for a job or a new car? is a resource not to be overlooked.

Looking for a job, a new car, maybe trying to get rid of an old set of bunk beds; or are you a collector? is a resource not to be overlooked.

With the rise of online classified sites such as Kijiji or Craigslist, offers up an alternative that aims to connect with the community offline that it’s bringing together online.

“We actually have a genuine concern and care for the communities we serve,” says Erin Richards, marketing co-ordinator for, which is also owned by Black Press. Recently, all of the Kootenay Black Press titles began running all of its print classified ads on

“We feel this is a great value for our customers and makes Black Press the best option when it comes to placing classified advertising throughout the Kootenays,” said Chuck Bennett, group publisher for Black Press in the Kootenays.

“We are really excited about this opportunity for us to grow our business in this area, but more importantly, this is good for our customers.”

This partnership also aligns well with the values of, as being truly local.

“We have staff on the ground in most of the communities we serve. They involve us in local community events, we partner with local non-profits and charities … We want to be that different classifieds that cares about the people using our sites,” said Richards. has its own charity as well. Called the Community Angel Program, Richards explains staff, or “angels,” spend time looking for ways to help out a person placing an online ad.

“Their job is to search our sites to find people who have posted ads saying they’re in need,” she says. “That can be anyone, from a single mom who needs a birthday present for her son because she can’t afford one this year to a senior needing a new battery for their scooter.”

The angel makes contact and meets with them in person to learn their story.

“Whether that’s financially, or whether they just need help connecting to other resources, we do our best to give them a hand,” says Richards. “We really want to have personal connections with our users.”

Also setting them apart from other online shopping venues is tighter moderation, ensuring things like weapons, puppy mills and pornography aren’t promoted. Scams, spam and low quality content are less likely to appear on this site as well.

It’s all part of maintaining a high quality service that allows a positive exchange of goods with those living nearby.

“People want to buy and sell from their neighbours, from people that they trust, from people living in their own communities,” Richards says.

Secondhand bargain shopping is also the trend among many trying to save a buck these days. As well, it’s convenient to shop from a home computer, says Richards.

“You can see the item right there online and you can get all the information and then you just go pick it up.”

As part of a network of websites across the country, covers the entire Kootenay region but users can narrow down a search based on how far they’re willing to look.

On Facebook and Twitter, is increasing its profile after a few years of operation. The feedback forum on its website is also open for comments from users who see a way they can better serve the immediate area. “I would love to engage in some dialogue with people in the Kootenays,” says Richards.

– Kirsten Hildebrand, Black Press

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