How To Meet Barterers
James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public
domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at
Jump to the following topics:
- We have
many opportunities for bartering.
are many ways by which we can find people who want to
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
are many ways by which we can find people who want to barter.
- 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
- 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.
- Barter clubs. Refer to the chapter regarding barter clubs.
- 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?"
- People with whom we already do business. We can ask our
butcher, baker, candlestick maker, etc.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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
- 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."
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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