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P.E.I. entrepreneur uses barter system to get strange and valuable items

Josh Lindsay holds a gold fish hook at Ben's Lake Campground in Belfast on May 28. It's similar to the one he used to start bartering for strange and higher value items.
Josh Lindsay holds a gold fish hook at Ben's Lake Campground in Belfast on May 28. It's similar to the one he used to start bartering for strange and higher value items. - Daniel Brown/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
BELFAST, P.E.I. —

As an entrepreneur, Josh Lindsay has always been inspired by the paperclip story.

The story is as follows: In 2005, Canadian Kyle MacDonald decided to try to barter something small for something bigger. He started by trading a single, red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen.

One year and 14 trades later, he ended up with a house.

As a result, Lindsay often trades resources for his business. The owner of Ben's Lake Campground & Adventure in Belfast knows someone who gives him fishing worms in exchange for firewood, and the property's groundskeeper gets to live there for free in exchange for groundskeeping, he said.

But this month, Lindsay decided to experiment with MacDonald's method – except instead of starting with a paperclip, he started with a gold fish hook.

"I'll throw it up online and see if someone will trade me for it," he said at the time.

He posted it on the campground's Facebook page and had some strange offers from Islanders at first, including a half-eaten PB&J sandwich. He ended up trading the hook for a sanding block with the same Montague business he gets his worms from, Robert's Workshop.

The next day he traded the block for four jars of pickled hot peppers. Then, he went from hot to cold by trading the peppers for three boxes of Mr. Freeze frozen treats – each box containing 80 freezies.

Trade number 1 complete! Robert Benoit and I have been making a number of partnerships between getting worms for the...

Posted by Bens Lake Campground & Adventure on Friday, May 22, 2020

And that's when things started to get interesting, he said.

"It turns out a lot of people like freezies."

More offers started to come in. One person offered him toilet paper, but Lindsay didn't think it was as valuable a trade as it would have been a few months ago, he said.

He ended up trading the freezies for two, fully-rigged fishing rods so to bring the trades full circle. But he knew someone who worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters of P.E.I. and decided to donate the rods. In exchange, Lindsay's contact gave him a large canvas painting to keep the trades going.

Josh Lindsay stands in front of his businesses sign at Ben's Lake Campground in Belfast. - Daniel Brown/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Josh Lindsay stands in front of his businesses sign at Ben's Lake Campground in Belfast. - Daniel Brown/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The painting proved challenging to trade the next day until someone "came out of the woodworks" with an offer Lindsay couldn't refuse.

"I'll give you a weed plant," the person said to him.

That's when things started to get a little ridiculous, Lindsay said.

Initially, he was concerned that involving the plant might be illegal, but he knows someone who works in the cannabis sector who told him that since it wasn't a money transaction it would be considered gifting.

"I did my due diligence," he said. "As far as I know it's fine."

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Posted by Bens Lake Campground & Adventure on Saturday, May 30, 2020

From there the value of his trades continued to rise. The pot of pot was traded for an eight-piece golf club set, which was then traded for a Calgary Flames hockey jersey with NHL player Dion Phaneuf's number and signature.

The jersey was traded for two smart watches, which were traded for 10-karat gold jewelry, which was traded for two sets of 1988 Calgary Olympic silver coins. As of June 1, Lindsay's latest trade is for a carpenter's service to build a shed-sized building, such as a greenhouse.

His trading decisions are starting to get harder, too. Some trades have been easy to turn down, such as a used mattress. But some have been hard, including a $1 bill from 1954, an old-school combination safe and a touchscreen computer.

One person told him he has a plot of land he'd be willing to trade once Lindsay gets to the big league items, Lindsay said.

As for what his endgame is, Lindsay is open to wherever the journey may take him and to whatever interesting items people might have to offer.

"People are asking me what I'm going for here. I have no idea," he said. "It just comes down to – do I think it's cool and do I think it's tradable?"

He loves interacting with people, so for him, it's been fun to make the trades and keep his followers updated on what he gets, he said.

"And it all started with a fish hook."

Twitter.com/dnlbrown95


Daniel Brown is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government. He can be reached at [email protected]

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