Russell Brand (you know, the British comic who's dating Katy Perry, played the rockstar in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and is in the upcoming film Get Him to the Greek), hosted a one-day only pop-up and exchange shop in one of Los Angeles' swankiest malls, The Beverly Center. From 2pm until 6pm, people lined up to shop in the Buy Love Here store. The drill: find something you want and then tell Russell what you'll trade him for it. The idea was to promote the re-use of products in a surplus society.
Once you were allowed into the store (they only allowed a few shoppers in at a time), you could select one item to swap. The inventory included a random assortment of wares, including: clothes, shoes, brooms, a tri-cycle, a toaster, a microscope, shower curtains, vases, and my personal favorite, an unused pregnancy test. Over the course of the day, the items changed as people exchanged their item for a store item.
My mom found an old-fashioned box purse she wanted and I found a brand new Guess purse (girls and their purses, right?). By the time we got to the front of the line, the gal said Russell would be busy for 15 minutes and asked if we wanted to wait or just check out with one of the girls. My mom opted for the latter. Big mistake. The girls kept asking my mom to put up more and more of her things to get the purse. She ended up having to trade a bottle of wine, a brand new pair of Crocs, and Gloria Vanderbilt designer jeans for her purse.
No sooner than I was about to step forward, Russell came back and asked what I had found and why I wanted it. Then, he wanted to know what I was prepared to give up and why. I started conservatively and held up a wooden theatrical mask which a neighbor had left behind when he moved. Russell loved my mask and the story I had made up about wearing it to hide my face for two years because I was embarrassed about not having a fancy Guess purse to carry around town. Russell stopped me at my first offering, held the mask up to his face for the cameras, and sent me on my way. Deal made! Obviously, the girls were much harder to please than Russell.
Today's pop-up shop was a one-time deal, but organizers told me it's likely Russell will bring the Buy Love Here store to other cities. Hopefully, they will iron out the kinks to improve the shopping process, though (e.g. I waited more than two hours to get into the store). The event will also be featured in a documentary about happiness that Russell is producing.
So, since Russell let me off easy, I still have a bike helmet, some DVDs, and a beautiful beaded necklace to trade. Who wants to make a deal?
NOTE: Thanks to the always hip JessieBR for posting the event on her Facebook page. If it weren't for Jessie, I'd have no idea how hopelessly un-hip I really am!