Wheeling and dealing

(Beijing Weekend)
Updated: 2007-02-02 10:29

Wheeling and dealingWanna be pop queen Wang Xiaoguang swapped singing for spoofing in a wacky bid to promote her debut album.

The former Supergirls contestant spent 100 days following in the footsteps of Canadian Kyle MacDonald who last year managed to swap a pin-clip for a house.

Inspired by the story, 22-year-old Wang, who also goes by the name of Ai Qingqing, decided to try bartering a paper clip for a house in just 100 days between mid-October 2006 and the end of January this year.

She first asked for a pin-clip from a real estate agent. She traded that with a man for his picture, which she traded for a jade Buddha, then a mobile phone, followed by a pearl necklace. In 18 days, she had two bottles of wine, then an expensive pipa. On January 14, nine days before the deadline, she got a jade bracelet. Last Wednesday, on the 100th day, the singer held a press conference to bring her scheme to an end. She claimed that she had failed in her bid to swap up to a house, but had instead ended up with a record contract worth millions of yuan.

The whole thing turned out to be a cunning publicity stunt and it worked - her story garnered so much interest on the Internet she was also offered a book deal worth 100,000 yuan ($12,820).

Even though it was just a clever publicity stunt, her actions have also led to a boom in online shopping. Dozens more swap-shop style websites have been launched in the last few months attracting thousands of barterers.

Wheeling and dealing"It is a new craze," said Zhe Renjie, CEO of swap-shop website www.comhuan.com. "For most barterers, exchanging things with others isn't about making money but about having fun." Zhe said that the number of registered barters on his website had increased at an "unbelievable speed" and that trading volume can regularly get into the millions of yuan a day.

Liu Yu, a 23-year-old college student, is a fan of Internet swapping. She has collected everything from perfume and sunglasses to precious stamps by swapping her MP3 player, cosmetics and other items she rarely uses. "The best thing about it is making new friends," she said. "I also enjoy the feeling of expectation after posting my requests on the Internet."

Another swap-shop fan called Amei (net name) has also capitalized on the craze. She advertised on the Internet to an expensive necklace that she rarely wore. A girl soon got in contact and the two met at a coffee bar. The deal failed. But they became good friends, and later the girl introduced her brother to Amei, with whom she fell in love at first sight and got married.

Amei posted her story on the Internet to encourage more barterers. "Anything can happen," she wrote.

This new way of shopping however, is not without risk. Experts warn that as most barters are strangers, they should choose public places to make the deal. As there are usually no professional appraisals for the swapped goods, the dealer should be careful to check out whether the goods are fake or low quality.

There are now dozens of professional bartering websites in China including www.68huan.com, www.51hlhq.com, www.51huan.com.cn, www.comhuan.com.


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