Even if you could buy a single bobby pin – which you can’t – they’re only worth 0.13 cents.
So it’s hard to imagine you could turn something that costs so little into something worth thousands of dollars.
But that’s exactly what Demi Skipper has done – and she plans to keep going.
The savvy San Francisco woman has traded her way from a bobby pin to a Mini Cooper convertible in three months.
She’s made 18 trades, documenting her progress on TikTok, in her goal to get to a house.
In her most popular video, which has received more than 21 million views, she teases “her biggest trade yet” which turned out to be an electric bike food cart.
She then traded the bike for the 2006 Mini, worth USD6500 (AUD8900).
Ms Skipper, whose day job is working for a restaurant reservation app and running a wedding dress rental business, said a lot of work went into the trades.
She drove six hours to get the bike and then shipped it across the country to North Carolina.
For another trade she drove 31 hours.
In another video explaining the process, she said only one in every 1000 people wanted to trade.
She said she trawled Facebook Marketplace and looked for items priced slightly higher than hers.
Ms Skipper said one tip was people didn’t want to trade in the same categories, and they looked for well-known brands.
“If it’s something really obscure they’ve never heard of, it’s usually a harder trade,” she said.
“Make sure you do your research.”
The idea came about as a fun side project during the coronavirus pandemic and has resulted in 4.4 million followers so far.
“When I set off to do this, I thought what is the smallest thing … which is a bobby pin, and what is the largest thing I can own? The answer is a house,” she told ABC 7 News.
“Now that we’re getting closer it’s just shocking. I don’t think I realised how real this was going to be until now.”
Ms Skipper said she got the idea from Kyle MacDonald, a Canadian blogger who bartered his way from a paperclip to a house in 14 trades over a year.
MacDonald was inspired by the childhood game Bigger, Better.
The game involves starting off with something small like a pencil to see if you can turn it into something valuable by doing small trades with strangers.
TRADES DEMI SKIPPER HAS MADE SO FAR:
1. Bobby pin
3. Margarita glasses
6. Apple TV controller
7. Bose headphones
8. Xbox One with games
9. 2011 Macbook Pro
10. Canon T6 camera
11. Nike Blazer sneakers
12. Nike Hyperdunk sneakers
13. Nike Reserved Shattered Backboard sneakers
14. iPhone 11 Pro Max
15. 2008 Dodge mini van
16. Boosted board
17. 2017 Macbook Pro
18. $4000 electric bike food truck
19. 2006 Mini Cooper