In May 2020, Demi Skipper started with a one-cent bobby pin listed on Craigslist. Now, about two dozen trades later, Skipper has bartered her way up to an $80,000 house.
The San Francisco resident started her “Trade Me Project” with the goal of trading her way to a new home, and — as she revealed earlier this month on her TikTok and Instagram accounts — she says she’s finally done it, also picking up millions of social media followers along the way.
“After 28 trades and all the ups and downs, I finally did it,” Skipper says in a Dec. 12 video post, which shows her beaming outside the front door of a two-bedroom detached house near Nashville, Tennessee.
The home was exchanged for a trailer, she says, which was preceded by trades that included tractors, a Peloton bike, jewelry, MacBooks, a snowboard and a set of margarita glasses, according to Skipper. (Though CNBC Make It could not independently verify the trades, they did match against reseller site listings.)
Bored during the pandemic, Skipper was inspired by a TED Talk given by Kyle MacDonald, a Canadian who bartered his way to a home in 2006 starting with only one paperclip. “The moment I realized no one else had done this since, I was like, ‘OK, I have to do this,'” Skipper says.
There were a couple of rules she says she followed: No money could exchange hands (although she routinely covered shipping costs) and she couldn’t trade with someone she already knew. Skipper also says she accepted sponsorships from brands, but they aren’t included in her videos about the trades.
Despite starting with just a bobby pin and zero followers on social media, the project was almost immediately popular, attracting a million followers within the first couple of videos, according to Skipper.
“I think it was just crazy enough of an idea that people were thinking, ‘I don’t think she’ll do this, but I want to watch to see if she does.'”