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How To Meet Barterers

By James  Stout. Former Writer for BarterNews

We have many opportunities for bartering. We can look for opportunities wherever we go, and we can ask, "Are you willing to barter?" whenever the question seems appropriate. Some people will gladly accept our offer. After we have explored the possibility, we might still have to reach for our wallet or checkbook, but at least we have given it a chance.

There are many ways by which we can find people who want to barter.

  1. Our family. It's natural for us to set up these trades: "I'll do your chores if you'll do a favor for me" or "I'll wash the dishes tonight if you'll clear the table for me." Many of these trades are spontaneous: "Thanks for the massage. Would you like one?"
     
  2. Friends. Pass the word, and ask them to pass it along to their friends. If our friends have interests which are similar to ours, we might get good results.
     
  3. Barter clubs, known also as trade exchanges.
     
  4. People with whom we have bartered previously. Ask for a repeat of a prior deal: "If you think that I cleaned your house well, do you want me to come back next week and do it again?"
     
  5. People with whom we already do business. We can ask our butcher, baker, candlestick maker, etc.
     
  6. People with whom we want to do business. When we barter, we aren't spending our limited cash resources, so we can afford more goods and services. Now we can use our imagination and desires to consider the other things which we want.
     
  7. Our current clients or customers. Our records might have information regarding the people's occupation. For example, perhaps one person works for an ad agency which could create an advertisement for our business. (Of course, if we convert too many of our cash-paying customers to barter-paying customers, we will decrease our cash flow.)
     
  8. Ads in newspapers or magazines. In local and national publications, we can find ads in which the merchants say that they are willing to barter. If the merchants are asking for cash, we can offer a barter deal instead.
     
  9. Our own ads in newspapers and magazines. Instead of simply offering to barter, we might offer a choice: "For sale or trade"; we will get more responses, and then we can ask the people: "Have you considered bartering?" In some cases, we can barter for the ads themselves; for example, the editor of the Southern Oregon Weekly Review used to trade away some advertising space to a janitor and a window-washer. Businesses swap millions of dollars worth of ads every year; refer to the chapter regarding "bartering for advertising."
     
  10. Yellow Pages. Look for the businesses which have whatever you want. And look for barter clubs under headings such as "Barter Services," "Social Service Organizations," "Trade Clearing Exchanges," or "Barter and Trade Organizations."
     
  11. Ads on radio or television. In Grants Pass, Oregon, the barter-club director used to put notices onto local radio programs (the "Bargain Roundup" and the "Trading Post" ), which broadcast free private advertisements. In your town, there might be similar programs.
     
  12. Swap shops. These are stores that specialize in bartering; customers offer their own goods (plus a small percentage of the retail price, in cash), in exchange for the store's goods. Variations include:
     
    • Stores which specialize in particular types of products. For example, John Ludewig operated a "wedding-gift exchange."
    • Stores which have been created by barter clubs. At these stores, people can sell their items in exchange for the club's units.
    • Pawn shops. The manager is probably an active trader.
    • Rural stores. At an old-fashioned general store, the manager might be willing to barter.
    • Other stores. Some stores have departments which permit swapping. For example, some kids' clothing stores will allow you to trade your kids' too-small clothes in exchange for new or used apparel. The stores offer these deals to bring you into the shop (where you will probably also buy some new clothing), and they can re-sell your clothing -- to their own customers, or to a secondhand shop.
       
  13. Places where second-hand goods are distributed. These places include flea markets, second-hand stores, and yard sales (i.e., garage sales). The people might want to barter, because their goods are "used" and so are yours. Some flea markets have special sections where all of the items are available by bartering.
     
  14. Swap meets and festivals. Whether the events are sponsored by a barter club or another organization, the people exhibit their goods and services. The fairs are advertised occasionally in newspapers, local magazines, and barter-club newsletters; they are held at a drive-in theater, or a rented hall, or another site such as a YMCA. You might find a music teacher who is offering gift certificates for lessons, a printer selling greeting cards, a craftsperson marketing jewelry, a retailer getting rid of some close-out items, and a doctor selling the birdhouses which were created in a spare-time hobby. The visitors might carry their own merchandise in a bag or box, or they might just be handy with a description. They walk from booth to booth, looking for a seller who wanted their goods in a direct exchange for whatever they had. At other fairs, the dealers swap their items for barter-club units, instead of relying on one-to-one swaps. ("Units" are explained in the chapter regarding barter organizations; they are units of exchange which are equal to $1 each.) A few interesting examples of swap fairs:
     
    • Some events emphasize one type of commodity. At the Britt Musical Instrument Faire in Jacksonville, Oregon, people were encouraged to swap or sell instruments and then donate a 20% of the price to the Festival Association.
    • In Morton, Mississippi, the Chamber of Commerce has sponsored "Barter Day" -- an annual outdoor show which attracts about 10,000 people to see the arts and crafts.
    • At a high-stakes swap meet in Reno in 1982, a $5,000 admission fee was paid by 75 people who wanted to trade apartment buildings, hotels, subdivisions, and property such as a 420-acre, $2.9 million Caribbean island. Another person had "$10 million worth of property in his briefcase." Someone else brought an offer to sell his manufacturing company and an airplane-repair service. Brian Lovig, who set up this billion-dollar flea market ("Sales and Trade Purchase International") at the MGM Grand Hotel, traded his Lear jet for some real estate.
       
  15. Bulletin boards. Bulletin boards are in community halls, grocery stores, libraries, government agencies, churches, laundromats, schools, organizations (such as an Elks hall), college dormitories and buildings, workplaces, and other sites. In some stores, we can put an ad on a door or window to tell people about our deals. In the ad, be specific: "I want to trade my 1972 Chevy Malibu for a good, newer motorcycle." Or "I'll swap my carpentry skills for a cord of firewood." Give your phone number or address or post-office-box number. With an address, people will just drop by. With a phone number, we will have more privacy to "screen" the callers. A post-office box gives us a better opportunity to sort out the possible trades, but it is less convenient than a phone call; therefore, we won't get as many responses.