A woman who traded a hairpin for items including an iPhone and a minivan says she does not intend to stop until she has a house.
Starting with the humble “bobby pin”, Demi Skipper’s Trade Me Project has included exchanging a vacuum cleaner for a snowboard and an iPhone 11 Pro Max for a Dodge Ram van since it began two months ago.
The rules of her challenge mean she cannot trade with anyone she knows and no cash can be exchanged.
The 29-year-old, from San Francisco, works for restaurant-reservation app OpenTable but early in the morning and late at night says it is “all trades” – sending out around a thousand messages a day for items.
Her success has gone viral, but Ms Skipper says she has also had to deal with hundreds of rejections to her requests per day.
“You have to be really resilient and you have to just know you’re doing a strange thing,” she said.
“I screenshot some of the messages where people say ‘you are the most insane person ever why would you ask me that?’
“I’ve joked that I’m going to frame them when I get the house and just have a wall of all the people saying ‘this is the dumbest thing I ever heard of’.”
She was inspired to take on the challenge after watching a video of Kyle MacDonald – who managed to swap a red paper clip for a house over the space of a year and 14 trades between 2005 and 2006.
“During quarantine I think a lot of us were going a bit stir crazy trying to figure out what we were going to do with our lives,” Ms Skipper told the PA news agency.
“Watching (Mr MacDonald) I was really inspired… this felt like the ultimate challenge, to go from something so small to a house.”
Ms Skipper’s hairpin, which she said was just the smallest thing in her home, was exchanged for a pair of earrings and then a set of Margherita glasses – which were, in turn, bartered for a vacuum.
Posting her progress to TikTok and Instagram, Ms Skipper’s challenge has proved a hit and she now has tens of millions of online followers.
Ms Skipper hit a bump in the road when she received the minivan – which broke down shortly after it was driven across the US to be delivered.
“I couldn’t move it and had a single day until it was going to get towed… so I traded that for a 2,000 dollar electric skateboard,” she said.
Ms Skipper says she takes precautions to ensure she is safe when meeting traders through the internet, but “surprisingly” people willing to trade have been “open and really nice”.
On taking on the challenge during lockdown, she said: “It’s a Catch-22 because on the one hand there are a lot of people willing to do strange things and make trades.
“But Kyle McDonald was able to trade for experiences so once he got closer to the house, he was trading for a role in a movie or a meet and greet with a band.
“I can’t in good faith do that in lockdown… I’m going to have to be a bit more creative.”