By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — Living in the Cidade Maravilhosa can be frustrating at times finding inexpensive furnishings or an outlet for swapping items, especially for those not yet fluent in Portuguese. With over 2,000 members, the Gringo Buy & Sell group page on the ever popular global social network known as Facebook has become an important solution for those English speakers looking to sell or purchase items.
Christa Pickering MacInnis, the creative individual behind this network of classifieds, decided to establish a Facebook group because of her own frustrations. After living in Rio in a furnished apartment for three years, the apartment owner decided to sell the apartment.
“We had to look for an alternative accommodation, so my husband and I ended up finding an apartment in Copacabana and it was not until I had to furnish that apartment that I realized some of the challenges of shopping for furniture or household items,” explains MacInnis.
Through her connections with The International Club of Rio (InC) and her role as Membership Director, MacInnis realized she was not alone in her frustrations. “Members would often share their struggles in finding the simplest things, not necessarily looking for something brand new, but furnishings to tie them over for a couple of years,” says MacInnis.
“After receiving emails from members and having to scan through documents with photos, I knew there was a simpler way of doing this.” At this time almost everyone had a Facebook account and MacInnis figured that was where the buy and sell network should live.
The group was initially for InC Rio members and friends of MacInnis but it quickly grew to more than 2,000 members. “Initially it was meant to be just for thirty of my friends and I, then my friends invited other friends and the numbers quickly multiplied,” MacInnis told The Rio Times.
Today Gringo Buy & Sell is an active online free market for buying and selling items within the foreigner community here in Rio. Members sell anything from gently used sofas, guidebooks, Portuguese language books, cell phones, desks and more at half retail price.
It is also a convenient place to ask for information such as recommendations for empregados or cleaning maids, handymen and even exchanging money.
One member, Megan Jelley, sold a dining room table and leather chairs set for R$150 in under 24 hours. Another member, Mareva Vernus, mother of three from France, sold children’s swimming gear for R$20 each item. Members can choose to pick up the items or meet at a location to swap.
The group is also used as a way to meet others. Each Wednesday there is a coffee meet-up at the Starbucks in Copacabana as well as a book exchange at 10:30 AM. Members can hang out and network with each other offline while also exchanging new reading material.
Since MacInnis is now living in Perth, Australia, close friend and group administrator Alexandra Gaglio Leguizamon is another point of contact. The Starbucks is located on Rua Nossa Senhora de Copacabana 1058-B.