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House shopping is typically a straightforward, albeit arduous, process. Almost universally, money changes hands. But 29-year-old Demi Skipper is sidestepping traditional capitalism. Instead, she’s thrown her energy into a project to obtain something she can trade for a house. The many objects she has bartered include a Mini Cooper, a Ford Mustang, and three tractors.

A new way of house hunting

Although the idea of using a bartering system to purchase a house might seem strange to most people, Skipper isn’t the first to do this in recent years. She was inspired by a TED Talk from a man named Kyle MacDonald, who traded his way from a red paperclip to homeownership in 2006.

Speaking with the Guardian, Skipper explained the rules of her trading project: “I can’t buy anything. I can’t use any money. And I can’t trade anyone I know.” Skipper connected with traders through eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace to begin a series of increasingly impressive swaps starting with a simple bobby pin.

First, she traded her hairpin for a pair of earrings, followed by items such as margarita glasses, a snowboard, and a used Apple MacBook. Slowly progressing, Skipper eventually traded a new iPhone for her first vehicle: a Dodge Caravan.

How Skipper went from a Dodge Caravan to a Mini Cooper

According to the Guardian, Skipper’s Dodge Caravan trade didn’t work out as she had hoped. The excited family that made the trade drove the red minivan all the way from Minnesota to San Francisco, a total of 29 hours. By the time the Caravan made it to Skipper’s door, it had broken down. In keeping with her own rules, she wasn’t allowed to spend money to fix the van.

So Skipper had to downgrade for her next trade, swapping the Caravan for an electric skateboard. But after a few more trades, she made her way back up, eventually trading an electric bike food cart for a Mini Cooper. She traded that for a diamond necklace. It proved to be a bad choice — the jewelry was worth only $2,000, compared to the Mini Cooper’s $8,000 value.

Trading a Ford Mustang, Jeep Patriot, and more

Fortunately, Skipper traded her way back up again. The next vehicle she snagged was a Ford Mustang GT. The Guardian described it as “run-down,” but judging by the photos on Skipper’s Instagram page, Jalopnik thought it looked “in pretty good shape.”

After the Mustang, Skipper bartered for a Jeep Patriot. Then she traded for a tiny cabin and swapped that for a Honda CR-V. Closing out her most recent automotive streak, she exchanged the CR-V for three tractors.

Skipper then found an unlikely party interested in her tractors. Chipotle stepped in, offering to exchange the machines for a Chipotle celebrity card. According to the Guardian, it’s one of only three Chipotle celebrity cards in existence. They provide the holder with a free year of meals from Chipotle and a catered dinner for up to 50 guests. 

Although it might seem strange for a chain restaurant to insert itself into this project, it’s a good marketing tactic. Skipper has about 5 million followers on TikTok, where she’s documenting her journey.

Although she hasn’t yet achieved her goal of a house, Skipper has come far in the past year. She has obtained diamonds, electronics, five cars, and three tractors. And it all began with a bobby pin.


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