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Perspectives | Issue

Navigator’s folio of ideas, insights and new ways of thinking


August 1, 2017

Starting in Toronto, Bunz is an online community that began as a Facebook group for those looking to trade items out of necessity.

Today, it aims to make city living easier by connecting people to the things around them. From trading goods and services to sharing local news, events, rental listings and job opportunities, Bunz has evolved into a large network of more than 100,000 users that turns strangers into neighbours.

The trading hub’s popularity has grown so quickly that in February, Bunz Trading Zone, the Toronto Facebook group that started the Bunz movement in 2013, stopped accepting new members. The group was closed because it became hard to maintain the community and because founder Emily Bitze wanted to drive traffic to the network’s mobile application. While the Bunz community can still be accessed through the trading hub’s many spinoff Facebook groups, the Bunz app has helped spread the bartering platform to cities across North America.


The point of the cashless platform is to get “use value” rather than “retail value” out of your trades. It’s simple: trade things you no longer need for things you do, and you will get more out of the trade than the item is actually worth.

The story behind an item might just be its real appeal. Whether you’re looking to get rid of transit tokens or an antique vase, make sure the item post is enticing.

ISO (“In search of”) is an abbreviation used when negotiating what a Bun would like in return for a good or service.

Bunz rate their trade once the transaction has taken place. Bunz can request reviews of other users before agreeing to a trade. This process is important in keeping the network reliable and works to penalize those who fail to show up for trades.

Bunz requires a certain degree of patience. It is not unusual to have trades postponed due to illness, missing the bus, or adverse weather conditions.

As a Bun, you will often need to travel to meet for your trade. Being exible and open to meeting locations can allow you to discover and explore new areas of the city.

While the community works to bring people together, users are still meeting up with strangers. Be safe and use your judgment when arranging trades.

Be fair. An item that came at a great expense to you or that has sentimental value might not translate to someone else.

We asked some Bunz to tell us about some of their favourite trades:

“I traded a sample Clinique product (eyeshadow duo/blush) that I got for free as a gift with purchase for
a Galileo thermometer, which is incredibly hard to nd in Canada and in celsius.”

“I traded away some bananas and coffee, and in return, I received a Black & Decker hand drill.”

“My favourite trade will be two pairs of boots in exchange for a completely original commissioned snack painting from a well-known Toronto artist. I can’t say it’s my favourite yet, though, because the trade is pending and has not been completed yet.”

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