In May 2020, the 29-year-old American Demi Skipper started a particular challenge with the aim of exchanging objects with other goods or services with a value that is always a little higher, starting with a hairpin and getting in return, after several passages, a house. A year later, Skipper can’t say that everything has always gone smoothly and she hasn’t made it to the house yet, but judging by her recent exchanges she may be close to us. Meanwhile, his stunt has inspired many followers on social networks who have initiated similar challenges to try to pay for a car or a piece of college installments, which in the United States are in many cases very expensive and force students to borrow heavily.
It all began when in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic Skipper, who works as a product manager at BuzzFeed, watched on YouTube a Ted Talk by the Canadian Kyle MacDonald, also known in North America as “the guy with the red paper clip”: in 2006 the then 26-year-old MacDonald exchanged his paper clip with other objects of increasing value, eventually getting two story country house in Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada.
He had arrived at the house within a year and through 14 exchanges: he started by exchanging the red paper clip for a fish-shaped pen, then exchanging it for a handcrafted door knob, then for a camping stove. MacDonald then traded the stove for a power generator, from which he obtained an empty beer keg and a neon Budweiser sign. The chain of trade continued with a snowmobile, a trip to British Columbia, a pickup truck and a record deal.
At this point MacDonald traded the record deal for a year’s rent paid in Arizona, which someone then “took” in exchange for an afternoon in the company of rock star Alice Cooper. Then, curiously, he managed to swap the afternoon in Cooper’s company for an exclusive snow glass ball on the band KISS, which equally surprisingly earned him a paid role in a Hollywood movie of actor Corbin Bernsen, apparently. one of the largest collectors of glass snowballs in the world. Finally, the Canadian municipality of Kipling offered him a house in exchange for the possibility of hosting a competition by giving away his role.
Kyle MacDonald, right, trades the glass ball of snow with Corbin Bernsen for a role in his film (YouTube)
Skipper then decided to start a very similar mission, sharing the image of the hairpin on social networks and explaining what the objective of the “Trade Me” project was (swap me). Her rules are not to buy anything, not to use money and not to exchange goods with people she knows: in the space of a few months her project has gradually grown, until she has obtained more than 5 million follower on TikTok, where Skipper shares each trade and tells what brought her up to that point in the chain.
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Skipper told al Guardian to have been surprised by the enthusiasm of all the people who want to participate in her mission, who may not have objects to trade but offer her a passage from one place to another to go and do her exchanges or offer her the space for a garage to store something valuable obtained through the chain. Skipper said he hopes that more and more people will decide to undertake similar initiatives because “everyone has a paper clip or a hairpin to exchange” and bartering “is a bit like sending capitalism to that country.”
♬ original sound – Demi Skipper
To begin with, Skipper has moved from online platforms where they usually exchange or sell their things, for example the Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and eBay: and it is on Facebook that he concluded his first exchange, giving away the her hairpin and getting a pair of new earrings in return. Skipper then traded the earrings for 4 margarita glasses, which he later traded for a vacuum cleaner; from the vacuum cleaner, in a couple of exchanges she came to an old Apple MacBook that was given to her by a man known on NextDoor, the social network used to exchange products, ideas or advice between neighbors.
Until then, Skipper had hand-delivered and collected all the items he had exchanged, and the digital camera he got in exchange for the MacBook was the first item to be sent to her by post: a potential risk, but also an opportunity to enlarge the project even more and circulate its story.
One of the most difficult moments of the project was when, after trading several pairs of collectible sports shoes (sneaker) with an iPhone 11 Max, Skipper swapped the smartphone for a red minivan that had suffered an accident en route to delivery. This forced her to trade it for an electric skateboard, an object with a much lower value, but above all it put her in front of the “real” internet: several of her followers in fact made racist comments and accused the Muslim family who had drove the minivan from Minnesota to San Francisco – a journey of about 29 hours – to have screwed her.
♬ Alone – Small Biscuit
After resuming the rhythm of exchanges starting from objects with a lower value, Skipper took another blunder: thinking he had made a bargain, in September he exchanged a Mini Cooper for a diamond necklace that at the time of purchase was worth about 20 thousand dollars, but that if resold it would be worth 2 thousand. From there, Skipper left again, exchanging the necklace for an exercise bike, then mistaken for a ramshackle Mustang, in turn traded for a prefabricated cabin and so on, until, a few weeks ago, she got three tractors (all together). With this unusual exchange proposal, the 29-year-old attracted the interest of the Chipotle restaurant chain, which offered her one of their very rare ones in exchange “celebrity card”, Which entitle you to free food for one year in all restaurants of the group and to a full dinner for 50 people.
In the most recent update video, shared on TikTok a few days ago, Skipper said she was hurt by many of the comments she received, accusing her of being sponsored by Chipotle or not being able to do the “right” calculations. to attribute the “right” value to the objects it exchanges. According to Skipper, however, part of the objective of “Trade Me” is precisely to find the people who attribute a different and not primarily monetary value to the goods being traded.
My latest trade trademeproject
♬ Stories 2 – Danilo Stankovic
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