Calgary

Freejiji: The free online classified craze in Calgary

From a single bucket of sand, to a garage stuffed full of collectables — if you want it, you can likely find it in Calgary's free Kijiji ads, lovingly dubbed "Freejiji" by the hundreds of people who can't get enough of the online treasure trove.

Paul Karchut finds so much more than free stuff on Kijiji

Cliff Prentice has a garage full of collectables he acquired from the free section of Kijiji. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

The online classified website Kijiji is gaining traction for its treasure trove of offerings in its free section — and it's especially popular in Calgary.

So much so, some have dubbed the section "Freejiji."

They spend hours scouring the nearly thousands of ads posted every week, and now the Calgary Eyeopener's Paul Karchut has done a little digging himself.

His interest was sparked when he used the site to get rid of some cinder blocks and piles of dirt after a landscaping project.

So he posted in the free section of Kijiji.

"I couldn't believe the reaction. I gave the cinder blocks to a guy who was making a backyard smokehouse. The dirt went out to a bunch of people — including a woman who brought a single bucket to fill one of her planters," says Karchut.

Calgary a hot spot

Turns out, Canadians — and especially Calgarians — love free stuff.

"In Canada in the last year, we had almost a million and a half free ads posted," says Kijiji's public relations officer Shawn McIntyre.

"Twenty-three per cent of that share exists in Alberta. It's just always been one of the highest points of engagement for us on website," he added.

Calgary is likely such a hot spot because of the presence of high income earners, and our penchant for redecorating, according to frequent users.

"The one thing I noticed that really got me hooked when I came to Calgary, if people were moving to another city, they wanted to get rid of the entire contents of their house really quickly. And the need to change decor seems to be a little more urgent here. I love it!" says Freejiji fan Cassandra Pollock.

Thingamabobs

The section features more than just furniture. Some of the stuff is downright wacky.

"I even found a turkey carcass on offer, in case someone wanted to make turkey soup," said Karchut.

Some locals make a point of seeking out the oddities.

In his spare time, Cliff Prentice loves to scour the free section of Kijiji — even converting his garage into a Freejiji warehouse with benches, chairs, vintage posters, even a Jagermeister machine. 

"The spin that I've put on it is that I try and do a good deed for the person that I pick the items up from. We've done everything from cleaning out basements for people to dropping off cases of beer," said Prentice.

Business time

There are others who make a profit from the free section.

Lee Mason Keller of Brothers Appliances tracks down used, free appliances and refurbishes them to be resold.

"My business has grown substantially thanks to the free section of Kijiji. I wish there would be more people that would be willing see the opportunity of free stuff and not just pass it by."

He says he doesn't feel guilty about taking the items for free because he believes he's saving roughly 3,000 appliances a year from going to the landfill.

So the next time Karchut finds himself with extra stuff, he says he's got a pretty good plan for where to post it.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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