Man was able to trade a red paper clip into a house

In 2005, Kyle MacDonald had no job, but wanted to live in a house. With limited options for saving money, he concocted an unorthodox plan.

Beginning with a red paper clip on his desk in Montreal, he would attempt to trade the seemingly useless item for something better. He would keep trading up until he reached his goal.

For his first step, he posted the red paper clip in the ‘Barter’ section on Craigslist. From Kyle MacDonald’s book, sourced below:

one red paperclip

This might not surprise you, but below is a picture of a paperclip. It is red.

This red paperclip is currently sitting on my desk next to my computer. I want to trade this paperclip with you for something bigger or better, maybe a pen, a spoon, or perhaps a boot.

If you promise to make the trade I will come and visit you, wherever you are, to trade.

Hope to trade with you soon!


PS – I’m going to make a continuous chain of ‘up trades’ until I get a house. Or an Island. Or a house on an island. You get the idea.

This might not surprise you, but below is a picture of a paperclip. It is red.jpg

Through a dogged and brilliant series of 14 trades over the course of one year (and greatly helped by later news and publicity of his quest), Kyle was able to successfully transform the paperclip into a new home:

  1. Paper clip for Fish-shaped pen.
  2. Fish-shaped pen for a hand-sculpted doorknob.
  3. Doorknob for a Coleman camp stove (with fuel).
  4. Camp stove for a Honda generator.
  5. Generator for an “instant party”: an empty keg, a beer-filling IOU for, and a neon Budweiser sign.
  6. “Instant party” for a snowmobile.
  7. Snowmobile for a two-person trip to British Columbia.
  8. Trip for a cube van.
  9. Cube van for a recording contract with Metalworks.
  10. Recording contract for a year’s rent in Phoenix, Arizona.
  11. Year’s rent for one afternoon with Alice Cooper.
  12. Alice Cooper afternoon for a KISS motorized snow globe.
  13. KISS motorized snow globe to Corbin Bernsen (a large collector of snow globes) for a role in the film Donna on Demand.
  14. Movie role for a two-story farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan.

Kyle wrote a book about his experience, and even earned a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for “Most Successful Internet Trade.”

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