N.B. local launches grassroots trading system

It all started with a paper clip. Winding down on the last day of a New Brunswick music festival in 2011, Stefan Warner was looking for some fun before packing up and returning to real life. Talk of a mysterious geocache in the area soon had Warner on his feet and roaming.

Locals sent him right to the ‘hidden’ spot and not long after, Warner was picking out a small, plastic paper clip from a box filled with other random items. The gradeschool teacher was curious, and decided to see if anyone would trade something for the tiny clip. That first trade would spark what is now a successful bartering system among Warner’s community.

“Of course when I came back from the festival with an iPod people were like ‘you’re onto something!’,” said Warner. “I had this ongoing dialogue – people knew about it and would check in with me to see what I had to trade at the time.”

Back in St. John, Warner traded some silver bracelets for an Xbox. He then decided it was time to get on Kijiji. This soon led to a mini-fridge and a mountain bike. Warner was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff people were offering up.

“I think everybody has so much junk we just don’t need,” said Warner, a St. John native. He said the crowded lives we lead are one reason getting back to a basic trading system will benefit his community.

“Say I want to hang a painting on the wall. I’m going to run out and buy a screwdriver and all that stuff – in reality all I need to do is visit my neighbour and borrow.”

Warner adds that although a lot of the trades are for sometimes arbitrary items, there’s always a use to be found with each one.

“Many times I’ve given something to someone and I’ve said ‘think about what you want to give me’ and it’s always a surprise on my end,” he said. “It’s a bit more amusing to see what you can have that’s new [to you].”

Warner remembers trading the mini-fridge for a painting by a local artist. She also gave him a wallet-sized version of her painting, one Warner had in his wallet for over two years – it even went to Europe and Southeast Asia with him. Warner and a friend he ended up travelling with for 2 months during his trip decided to send some of their belongings back to his friends house in Quebec. Warner encouraged his friend to add to these packages if he saw to it. He planned to trade that stuff when he got back.

It’s this long story – different people come into my life and its an occasion to include them into this long story,” he said. “It’s been quite an adventure.”

Warner wants people to get involved in the trade – and said people should contact him on Facebook if they have an item they’re looking to get rid of. Although still in its infancy, Warner is confident his barter system will stick as a staple – especially somewhere smaller like New Brunswick.

“If we took this idea and broke it down everybody has all the junk in their house collecting dust – 

essentially just collecting dust to say ‘hey i have as much more more junk than you’,” he said. “
Let’s keep the tide rolling and get it rotating a little bit more.”