Matt McKenzie, our man at Kijiji

LEASIDE PEOPLE • MEET YOUR NEIGHBOURS

The McKenzie family l-r: Ella, Selene, Matt, Everly and Maija.
The McKenzie family l-r: Ella, Selene, Matt, Everly and Maija.

According to Kijiji’s Second-Hand Economy Index for 2018, 85% of Canadians participated in the second-hand economy last year, earning an average of $1,134 and saving $825. A major player in this booming sector is Leaside’s own Matt McKenzie, the general manager of Kijiji Canada, the leading classifieds site here.

Matt got his start as an entrepreneur and technology expert with two jobs in the late 1990s. After earning his degree in economics at Western, he operated the Moped Shack, renting mopeds to tourists at Harbourfront in 1998. Then after years of working part-time at the Merchant of Tennis on Bayview, he was approached by the owners, Pam and Rob Horwood, in 1999 to build their ecommerce website. Matt was fascinated by the idea of “bridging technology with business” and found a post-graduate course that would combine the two at Edinburgh Napier University when he was visiting a friend playing hockey there.

With his new MSc, Matt landed two jobs back home as product manager at Nestlé and Celestica. Next, he took his interest in “leveraging technology to solve business challenges” to MSN for nine years, before joining Kijiji as general manager in 2015.

Matt was excited to join Kijiji because the Canadian operation is run here in Toronto so he has the autonomy to respond to the needs of Canadians in terms of products, design, development, customer service and support. “Since the classifieds platform resonates with Canadians,” Matt says he is happy “to be able to address the specific needs of Canadians with our products in order to impact their daily lives.”

The girls in front of the Kijiji Van, a replica of the A-Team vehicle.
The girls in front of the Kijiji Van, a replica of the A-Team vehicle.

The proof of Kijiji’s success is in the numbers: 17 million unique visitors a month and an average of 7 million ads at any given time. The site is ranked number one for autos, services, pets, and real estate, and number two for jobs. Popular items are children’s gear, toys and furniture, while more unusual items include livestock and tractors.

One important reason for Kijiji’s popularity, Matt says, is “the emphasis placed on trust and safety through the use of seller profiles so that participants no longer feel like strangers.” This element of trustworthiness helps to create a new sense of community among the participants.

Matt’s wife, Selene Wilkinson, agrees: “People want to see who gets their treasures and don’t want them ending up as landfill.” There are many stories of Kijiji users who feel the same way, such as Bennington’s David and Barbara Payne, who needed a replacement for an old Moffat stove to match the décor of their country home. Not only did they find one on Kijiji, but the owner delivered it to Caledon for them.

It is also a strong sense of community that has kept Matt and Selene in Leaside. They met in Grade 7 at Bessborough, and have chosen to raise their three daughters, Maija,10, Ella, 7, and Everly, 4, in the “great neighbourhood for kids” where they were so happy themselves. Today the family enjoys all of Leaside’s attractions: the parks, nature trails, library, dance classes, their old friends and, of course, new connections made through Kijiji.

About Janis Fertuck 50 Articles
Janis Fertuck is a retired English teacher who spent the last 30 years of her career at Leaside High School. She enjoys writing about the vibrant Leaside community where she and her husband have lived for 22 years. Her other favourite pursuits include a part-time job at a boutique on Bayview and volunteering with the Bayview Pixies.