On the Listia site, people can give away things that they don’t want or need anymore. When you give something away, you earn points on the site, which you can then redeem for the goods that offered by other users. Until now, however, what those points actually got you depended on what other users were posting, and all the goods were used (unless, for some reason, you decided to give away something brand new).
With the Rewards Store, users can redeem their points for new goods in categories like DVDs and movies, electronics, and home and garden. Listia says it’s adding a premium rewards category today, with items like round trip airfare to anywhere in the U.S., gas money for a year, a luxury trip to Hawaii, and a Fiat 500. The rewards are supposed to run the gamut from $20 to $16,000 in value.
The company says that “by creating a Rewards Store, we hope to incentivize more people to unlock all the idle value sitting in their closets and homes.” That doesn’t necessarily mean the current model isn’t working — there have supposedly been 5 million items traded to date, and the gross merchandise value of items on the site has grown 400 percent in the last six months. But it doesn’t hurt to give users an even clearer reason to give things away.
Listia, which launched in August 2009, is eBay for free stuff. Unlike giving away stuff on Craigslist, where you get deluged by emails and have to let everyone know who gets the item, Listia manages that for you. Users get a certain number of credits which they bid for the item, so whoever wins the auction is the person who wanted it the most. Users get credits in three ways: every user gets a certain number automatically, and you...