Forget Your Wallet—This Store Lets You Pay With Your Talent

At The Merit Shop, buyers can receive goods in exchange for singing a song or telling a joke.

This shop is more interested in people than it is in profits. (Photo: The Merit Shop/YouTube)

Jan 11, 2014· 1 MIN READ
A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades has previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and a medical writer.

If you've got some mad dance skills, or even just some mediocre ones, you can purchase a variety of goods at The Merit Shop in San Francisco.

The mobile store allows patrons to pay for items such as candy, clothes, crayons, and even iPods with talent instead of cash. Singing a song, reciting a poem, and drawing a picture are all among the acceptable forms of currency at the store that refers to itself as "the little corner shop of anarchy."

The Merit Shop is based on the belief that not everybody has money, but everybody has talent. It's a way of rethinking how our culture uses money as a divider—classifying those who have it as worthy, while those who don't are often viewed as inadequate or inconsequential.

Daniel Soares, one of The Merit Shop's cofounders, explained to FastCoExist that what started out as a collaborative art project was inspired by San Francisco's massive income divide.

“There’s a huge disparity in income,” Soares said. “It’s almost as if the city is divided in two—people with money and people without. We never saw so many homeless people anywhere in the world. That was our thought starter, even though it is intended for all the people.”

The store also runs online, allowing people to send in videos of themselves performing whatever talents they think are worthy of their desired items.

News channel WXYZ reports Soares and his group have been purchasing the store's stock using their own money, but their goal is to pair with sponsor companies to supply those goods to keep their shop going.

The Merit Shop may not be scalable, but judging from the above video, the joy it brings to its customers is immeasurable.