By Alex Guibord
A University of Western Ontario student has created an online marketplace exclusive to Ontario university students.
Unibay.ca was established by Ivan Medovikov, a third-year economics student at Western, and Oleg Popov, a third-year business administration student at York University. It allows students with a university e-mail address to buy and sell merchandise, such as DVDs, textbooks, furniture and appliances, without paying a listing fee.
“When people leave university, they are left with all this stuff they don’t need or can’t take with them… Younger students will need to buy (similar items) anyways,” Medovikov said.
He said the site acts as a venue to better facilitate student-to-student trade. Students must register their contact information, negotiate a price or a bid, and then meet up in person to complete transactions.
Above all, it’s for university students. One seller is even willing to part ways with a textbook in exchange for beer. “We’re here to get students trading, so anything goes,” Medovikov said.
Almost anything — illegal material gets cut. The two began developing the idea in September after “constantly” hearing other students complain about the struggles with selling used books, Medovikov said.
“We weren’t able to find anyone else (in North America) with a fully featured student marketplace going beyond posting in forums,” Medovikov said.
Unibay is currently available to 11 Ontario universities, including Ryerson. It has struggled to gain popularity; the site has had just 300 items listed since its launch last year.
Kyle Cheung, a first-year architecture student and a registered Unibay user, said he feels the service has potential — but agrees not enough people at Ryerson are using it yet.
“A friend sent me there as an alternative to make back some school money,” he said, explaining he has felt “gouged” selling his used books on campus in the past.
“When enough people come to the table with the same intention on (Unibay), the right deals and the right prices will start showing up,” Cheung said. Student have few options when selling their textbooks.
Folletts Higher Education, a Chicago-based company, buys used books outside the Ryerson Bookstore for up to 50 per cent of the original retail price, paying cash on the spot.
The Used Bookroom, located in the Student Campus Centre, allows used books to be dropped off to be sold by consignment through the store. Students only get the cash, minus a 25 per cent fee, when the book is sold.
Still, students have to visit the site. Unibay’s Ryerson community, launched in January, currently has only six listings. The University of Toronto has none.
Medovikov said he hopes the idea will catch on, as it has started to at Western, where 48 items are currently listed, including 33 textbooks.
“When that happens, it will all be in one shot. But right now we have to concentrate on building a reliable service and establishing brand loyalty,” Medovikov said.