Camden man trades a paper clip hoping for something better

Fri, 03/26/2021 - 9:30am

CAMDEN—Trading up—getting something more valuable in return for the traded item—is human nature.

One Camden man has started a personal adventure to see how far he can get with a paper clip that way. Inspired by Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald who started with trading a paper clip and ended up owning a house as well as YouTube personality ChadwithaJ, who traded a paper clip and eventually got an iPhone, Matt Hunt is on the same mission.

A month ago, he posted a message on the Facebook Page All Free Midcoast announcing his paper clip proposition, not sure what to expect.

“The first trade I made for a paper clip was for a piece of crystal amethyst,” he said.

Like all journeys, he was prepared for the positive, but not for the negative.

“I had a lot of haters on the comments telling me to get a job, or trying to exchange the paperclip for another similar office item, which is not what this was about,” he said. “Here, in New England, I’ve definitely had the ‘tire kickers’ tell me they wouldn’t do a trade for something as low value as a paper clip. But, I also had people who were excited about this journey and offered me something of more value. And they also told off the people who weren’t being kind.”

The crystal amethyst caught the eye of a person in the Midcoast who offered Hunt a pair of earrings that were simulated opals with CZ accents. In the meantime, he got another paper clip trade going, resulting in a valuable Pokemon card.

“I’ve got two separate items going right now, but I might even be willing to trade both for something else,” he said. “I’m realistic though; I’m not out to make the jump from a $10 value item to a $50 value item—but if it happens, it happens.”

He has now started a Facebook page for his journey, which has amassed around 200 followers.

Not everyone “gets” what Hunt is doing. As he explained it, some people learn how to bake sourdough in a pandemic; this offbeat hobby is just more his speed.

“There is always something sitting in our houses and collecting dust, but if we can have fun and trade these items, why not?” he said.

When you follow MacDonald’s paper clip journey through his Tedx Talk, (see embedded video) it’s easy to see why a fun venture like this can also lead to some amazing discoveries about life, relationships, and human kindness.

“It’s definitely just for the thrill of it,” he said. “There have been multiple sources of inspiration for me to trade up, but it’s not for the high-ticket item, more to just see what they’d offer and where this journey goes.”

Kay Stephens can be reached at