Down the Trade Hole in Montreal’s Online Trade Community

Facebook Groups Are Portals to Sustainable Exchange

  • Graphic Aiden Locke

When something of yours is no longer in use, where does it go?

This article has been updated.

Do you throw it away and replace it with something new? Before you do, you might want to consider checking online— Montreal’s trading community would happily take it off your hands.

The Facebook group called the MTL Trade Hole/Trou D’Échange, with over 9,000 members, is a hub for Montreal’s trade, barter, and sharing community. It offers a platform for people to list needs, skills, or items they’re looking for, and offload stuff they don’t need anymore.

“There’s just way too much stuff and not enough money, and this group really helps to make that work for people,” says Maryanna Hardy, the group’s creator and main administrator. Hardy says the group is all about fostering a sense of community and rethinking consumerist waste habits.

“Today I traded a Lord of the Rings quiz book for oranges,” says veteran trader Aleksandra Kado. She recalls her strangest trade as an old violin bow for laundry detergent. “That was one of my first trades ever. I was like: That’s great, I get laundry detergent, and you get something I don’t use anymore.’”

Kado is an undergraduate student at Concordia and she relies on the Trade Hole to make it by on a tight budget—even trading for food.

“I remember trading things for groceries a lot of the time when I needed them,” Kado says.

The Trade Hole’s rules are simple: No monetary exchange of any kind.

“There is a role for alternative types of exchanges to exist, simply because not everyone is employed and has access to a steady income,” says Concordia economics professor Jorgen Hansen.

As such, it’s a great resource for students, people between jobs, those without a steady income—and Hansen says it provides a chance for traders to use their skills.

“I’ve watched how people have become creative in how they can use the group to negate having to spend money.”
—Maryanna Hardy

“I say that about our graduate students for instance,” says Hansen.“They can provide tutorials for our undergraduate students.”

“I’ve watched how people have become creative in how they can use the group to negate having to spend money,” says Hardy.

As an avid trader, I have seen a growth in support through the trading community. I’ve even seen posts where people offer items and services for free.

In an effort to minimize waste, there’s a growing trend wherein traders notify the group where potentially salvageable items are located on street corners and sidewalks, under the caption “curb alert.”

I’ve developed relationships with recurring traders where we trust the process and don’t haggle over the nitty-gritty. I no longer weigh the value of trade items. Rather, I trust that the financial side will balance out long-term. And it does.

The MTL Trade Hole/ Trou D’Échange isn’t the only trade community on Facebook, although it is among the largest in Montreal.

Similar groups include: The Bunz Trading Zone Montreal, Budz of the MTL Trade Hole, Bunz Employment + Entrepreneurial Zone, Montreal Bulk Food Share, French friends of MTL Trade Group!, CLUB D’ÉCHANGES TAILLE PLUS MONTRÉAL, Échange Q, Bunz Montreal Food Group, Montreal Skill Trade Hole, and Bunz Music Trading Zone.

When asked what her favorite trade from the Trade Hole was, Hardy lifts a commissioned embroidery from her kitchen table. She says that in exchange for her scanner, the trader offered to make anything. So Hardy requested a framed image of a blue and white car on fire with the letters “ACAB” stitched at the top. What does “ACAB” stand for? All Cops Are Baddies.

Only in Montreal.

In a previous version of this article, it was written that Hardy’s embroidery referred to the police as “Bastards,” when she actually had said “Baddies.” Further, the author’s name, Simona Rosenfield, was misspelled as Rosenfeld. The Link regrets these errors.

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