From a notebook to a MacBook: a Gainesville woman’s trading venture

After five weeks of bartering, Gainesville resident Caroline Staniski is one transaction away from her goal of trading a small notebook for a MacBook.

Staniski, a 27-year-old freelance graphic designer, said she was inspired in mid-July to do a smaller, more practical version of a TikTok she saw, in which a woman hoped to trade from a bobby pin to a house. That TikToker was Demi Skipper of the Trade Me Project, which now has more than 4.3 million followers on the video platform.

“Trading has been around for hundreds of years,” Staniski said. “And people should take risks.”

She initially traded the $1 notebook she started with for a yellow chair and footstool set from her friend Brittany Boyer, 26, who was trying to get rid of the furniture as she moved and wanted a notebook to write down to-do lists.

“If I have things available to me that would help somebody else, why wouldn’t I help someone around me?” Boyer said.

In addition to participating in a fun social experiment, Boyer said she liked avoiding waste by allowing each item to be repurposed elsewhere.

“I’m actually hoping someone will trade me a notebook again soon because I’ve almost filled up the one that I have,” Boyer said.

With the chair and footstool in possession, Staniski then bartered with her grandmother to receive two sterling silver rings.

She described the next trade as the “hardest part” because she had to justify the value of the rings to make her desired transition into electronic items. On Facebook Marketplace, she procured an older version of the iPad mini, which she then traded for second-generation AirPods.

Her friend Erin Hathaway, 25, then gave her the current trading item, an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil valued at about $300.

Hathaway said she used the tablet while studying graphic design with Staniski at the University of North Florida. Now that she works in production graphic design, Hathaway said she hasn’t needed to draw on the iPad, but was interested in using the AirPods.

“This was a cool creative lesson for me,” Hathaway said. “If I decided to upgrade to a MacBook Pro, I’d like to do this myself, and I would be open to helping other people and helping Caroline more.”

Staniski said she might finally trade with a friend who is replacing the battery on an old MacBook.

Staniski said she plans to use the laptop to replace the 2012 one she’s currently using to make lettering and illustrations. When she finishes her quest, she is considering converting the Facebook group “Notebook to Macbook” into a trading group for people in Gainesville to find what they need.

“Students should try this kind of stuff and try to be an entrepreneur,” she said.

I’m a student journalist at the University of Florida. I like herbal tea, hip hop dance and warm hugs.