I didn’t even know I wanted it but now I’ve seen it I must have it. This is not just my reaction when viewing Facebook page ‘Buy it, Sell it, Swap it, Qatar’, but one replicated by countless shopaholics across Qatar. Even researching this article cost me money – who knew I needed a camel stool given I don’t even own a camel? Incredibly addictive and boasting over 5,000 members it’s satisfying the shopping addict in all of us and fast becoming one of the most talked about Facebook pages in the country.
Husbands all over Qatar (mine included) are cursing innovative Laura Edgell, who started the site two years ago after realising there was a gap in the virtual marketplace for expats to sell unwanted goods. ‘I’d seen a similar idea set up in the UK and saw how well it worked. With the amount of people that come and go in Qatar there seemed to be a need for the site,’ explains Laura.
It’s a simple enough concept; you post a photo of what you are selling or swapping, and the first person to express an interest is eligible to buy or swap it. Communication then normally switches to private messaging to arrange pick up and payment. It’s perfect, as you don’t even have to put your details on a public forum. Simple.
Or is it? It is if you abide by the rules of the page, but Laura is surprised how often the rules are flouted. ‘Shopping is something that we have done for hundreds of years, yet it’s amazing how some people can still go wrong.’
At times the site can resemble real life sale shopping with elbows sharpened as people argue over who commented first, try to offer less or just change their minds – things can get heated, especially for items in demand. For the outsider it’s entertaining following controversial threads, but for Laura it can be challenging. ‘It can be difficult to administer sometimes. There are days when we can spend hours resolving disputes, removing sold items and cleaning up the page and there have been one or two issues that have taken up a whole day or more.’
Initially Laura managed the page alone, but the recent rapid growth prompted her to seek assistance. ‘I spoke to my husband and he offered to help – although sometimes I think he wishes he hadn’t!’ The next team member she recruited was Corinne Sharp, whose experience in the fashion trade assists her in spotting imitations. ‘We started having issues with fake handbags being advertised as genuine ones, which is something I’m not knowledgeable on. Having Corinne join us was one of the best decisions we’ve made – she works so hard on the site,’ says Laura.
Although time consuming Laura finds it worthwhile. ‘It’s rewarding to see so many people from different cultures, religions, nations and languages come together – not just to buy and sell but to communicate, chat, share information and most of all become friends. I’ve been new to Qatar and I would have loved a site like this back then.’ She agrees it’s completely addictive. ‘I watch how many people become regulars and there are daily bargains!’
Laura and her team have the interests of the members at heart and are vigilant in monitoring the page. Abusive members are immediately removed, along with those advertising goods that aren’t for sale in Qatar. ‘We try our hardest to protect our members from fraud,’ she adds. Of course it’s still wise to remember the age-old motto ‘caveat emptor’ – let the buyer beware.
The page has already expanded beyond Laura’s expectations causing her to start up two extra pages: ‘Buy it, Sell it, Swap it, Kids’ and ‘Small Businesses in Qatar’. ‘We are looking at new ideas all the time. I can’t wait to see how big this site gets; I’m hoping it’s going to grow even bigger once people read this!’ Knowing how much we love to shop in Qatar you can guarantee it will. Now I need to get back on-line as I bet I’ve missed out on that full size pool table I don’t need.
Grab yourself a bargain at ‘Buy it, Sell it, Swap it, Qatar’ on Facebook.