Why shop when you can swap?

Today, I took a stand against consumerism. Instead of putting cash into the belly of corporate America, I traded something I no longer wanted, for something I did want.

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!


  1. OMG~!! That's AMAZING~!! You met Russell Brand today??~!! @RustyRockets himself?~!!! He once told me "Happy Birthday, Katie" on Twitter and I was elated! LOL What a great cause & fantastic idea~! This is JUST what you needed, too. Living in LA, you must never run out of material - good for you, Amber~!!
    Anita @ModelSupplies

  2. Thank you for going and documenting Amber! I love the idea of "re-use of products in a surplus society." I can't wait to see you. And your new purse!! xo

  3. What fun! And I like Russell Brand much more after this story.

  4. Anita: Yep, LA does have its fair share of interesting stuff going on. Russell was actually very nice, too.

    Jessie: Thanks again for being a superior source of all things uber-cool in LA.

    Jayne: Russell was really cool. Just when it was our group's turn to go into the store, the organizer opted to let in 7 or 8 paparazzi instead. Russell saw that we hadn't been admitted, and told the guy to move the rope so we could come inside to shop.

  5. Sounds like a great experience! Also sounds like a great idea!

    Glad you had a good experience!

  6. Great idea and now I like Russell Brand even more! Your mom should have totally waited - he would have taken the bottle of wine or crocs for sure.

  7. Priscilla: We had already waited two hours to get into the store, so it seemed like the right idea at the time. I felt bad that my mom didn't get a great deal, but she really likes the purse.

    I hope the idea catches on. Such a wonderful concept. Russell has his head on straight. A really nice guy with a good mission.

    Thanks for commenting, Priscilla!


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