Meet Our Barter Partners

By James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at >


Even if we have plenty of things to barter, we still need to know where we can barter. We might barter in our own home, with our family. But there is a big world outside of our home.

We can set up some deals with our neighbors. Jack Sente, of Barterburg, mowed Mr. Stone's lawn, and then Mr. Stone took Jack to a movie which they both wanted to see. Mr. Stone paid for the admission, and the hot buttered popcorn, and the cold soda.

Then Jack pulled the weeds in Mrs. Racker's garden, in exchange for one of her hot blackberry pies (fresh out of the oven). He traded half of the pie to his brother, for an old blue football helmet. And he gave slices to his Mom and Dad, just because he loves them.

When we barter with people whom we know, we don't have to be a great salesperson. Just ask them, "Do you want to trade?" We already have a list of things which we can barter, and a list of things which we want to get. So we can set up deals easily.

A new "barter partner" can be a good partner if we keep the person's phone number after the deal is over. (We can give the person our number, too.) We can call again when we want to set up another deal.

Barter clubs. If our parents are already members of a barter club, we can add our skills to their file. For example, Peter Liner's father is a cabinet-maker at the Barterburg Cabinet Shop. When another club member needs a big oak cabinet with brass handles, the member calls Peter's father. Peter does yardwork -- raking leaves and cutting grass. So his father told the barter-club manager that Peter would like to participate in the club. Now, when a member needs yardwork, Peter is sent out on the job. (Some clubs might not allow the kids to use their parents' barter-club account, even with the parents' permission.) Even if you are under the age of 18, you might be able to join some barter clubs yourself. In the Yellow Pages, these clubs are listed under a heading like Barter Service, Social Service Organization, or Barter and Trade Organization.

Newspapers. Our home-town newspaper might have a classified-ad section just for bartering. If not, we can put an ad in another section; for example, when we want to trade our parakeet, we can put it under the "Pets" heading. We can list our clarinet under "Musical Instruments."

Radio ads. Some radio stations have special programs for free want-ads. Every day, from 4:00 to 4:10 p.m., one station in Barterburg reads short notices from people who want to buy, sell, or trade things. People write their ads, and take them to the station. Maybe we can do this in our town.

Bulletin boards. We can put ads on bulletin boards in laundromats, our school, libraries, and other places. Describe the things which you want to trade, and the things which you want to get in return. Also give your name and phone number. The ads might look like this:

  1. I want to trade my saxophone for a 10-speed bike. Call Ron at [phone number], after 5:00 p.m.
  2. I want some video games. I'll trade my rock CDs. Call Sandra at [phone number].
  3. I clean houses, vacuum rugs, sweep floors, wash windows, etc. You can pay me by bartering. (What do you want to trade?) See Bruce at [address].

Swap meets. Swap meets and flea markets are good places to meet some traders. Take your lists, and set up some trades. We can even take our goods if they are small enough. (Our hand-made leather wallets are small, and so are video games, jewelry, and other things.) When you see someone who is selling what you want, be bold; just walk up and say, "I want these three books, but I don't have any money. Would you like to trade them for anything on this list?" You can both get a bargain.

Stores. In most stores, we have to pay with cash or a check. But some stores allow their customers to barter. At one clothing shop in Barterburg, the teenagers can trade their clothes for others. If our blue sweater doesn't fit any more, we can swap it for a larger red one. Of course, most stores don't barter; don't go into a large department store or grocery store to try to set up a deal.