This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.
Visiting a friend's island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is fun, but part of the reason you go is to trade. Whether it's fruits, recipes, resources or even furniture, the free-flowing exchange of goods between islands is enough to make Tom Nook shed a single tear.
It's not easy to regulate though, and it's sometimes awkward to ask if you can trade. Do you want to be the person who shows up to a friend gathering and asks if they can ransack the fridge? Emma Kent, a reporter for our sister site Eurogamer, devised an elegant solution to this problem: the swap shop.
With a simple "take one, leave one" policy, people can decide what they want and what they're willing to trade, all while ensuring everyone can come out ahead. Part of the reason it works so well is the design function: being able to construct signs to go with the fence posts and other decorations makes it easy to establish rules. Of course, it's all on the honor system, but are you really inviting people over who might ransack your swap shop?
A few others have joined in on the trend, myself included. It's a cute idea, but also adds a fun social interaction for people visiting your island, and the best part? It runs completely unmoderated. I could leave my airport gates open, put out a Dodo code, and let people filter in and out as they please.
I'd love to see this idea take off, or at least, see the ones who do flourish. It gave me an easy outlet to drop off a DIY recipe I already knew, and in exchange, I might find that extra bit of clay I need, or a new bench for my park. The design tool has been used to incredible effect, from integrating Fire Emblem: Three Houses cosplay to installing massive works of art. For a time where everyone is inside and isolated, little additions like swap shops help us stay in touch and share gifts with friends.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is out now for the Nintendo Switch. If you're playing, be sure to check out our guides section for all the tips and hints you need to build that perfect island getaway.