By Leigh Ann Henry
A small, local business is depending on Baylor students to grow.
In October, Indianapolis junior Cole Chapman, who is pursuing a triple major in finance, entrepreneurship and real estate, launched a website called The Bear Trade.
“It is essentially an amplified Craigslist customized for Baylor students. It got inspired by move-out every year,” Chapman said.
Chapman describes the site as a one-stop shop for Baylor students and said tutoring services, textbooks and housing are among the items listed online.
When students move out each year, large amounts of unwanted books, furniture and other unused materials quickly find a path to the nearest Dumpster, Chapman said.
These materials then move to a landfill, but The Bear Trade is Chapman’s solution to alter this wasteful cycle.
The Bear Trade is intended to allow students to buy, sell and trade within the Baylor community instead of just throwing items away when no longer wanted.
Chapman said he hopes that the move-out in May will be different than those in the past, thanks to his website.
“I think this year as opposed to people throwing stuff away they’ll post it on The Bear Trade,” Chapman said.
Increasing awareness for his website at Baylor has been a struggle. His company is not affiliated with Baylor so the school doesn’t allow Chapman to advertise on campus. Since the name of his company is The Bear Trade and it is specifically tailored for the Baylor community, there are concerns students will associate the company with Baylor.
The sustainability department supports The Bear Trade in its attempt to avoid landfill usage, said Smith Getterman, sustainability coordinator at Baylor.
“Green businesses and green solutions can be found anywhere,” Getterman said.
Chapman said about 100 users have signed up on the website, but hundreds of people browse the site unregistered.
Giving an example of how the site works, Chapman said he put a toaster under the “free” category on The Bear Trade and within a few days someone called asking if he had gotten rid of the toaster yet.
“He was there within probably 10 minutes to pick it up,” Chapman said.
“So we know it works; it definitely works.”
Plano junior Carson Fabian used The Bear Trade to sell his bike shortly after the website was launched.
Fabian said he received two different phone calls and the bike was sold within two weeks.
“Actually, I’m going to put all of my textbooks on there because of how fast my bike sold,” Fabian said.
Chapman said he hopes to find success with his business and potentially expand to other colleges in Texas. He said he is not aware of other schools having a buy-sell-trade system similar to The Bear Trade.
The website is free to use for anyone, but as The Bear Trade hopefully snowballs into a larger business, that may change.
Chapman said Baylor students will be able to use the website for free, but in the future, anyone outside of the Baylor community who wishes to join the network will pay a fee.
Getterman contacted Chapman in early February for the opportunity to express support and encouragement of The Bear Trade on behalf of the sustainability department.
“We think it’s a good idea and it’s a great service to students,” Getterman said.