Cashless Economies on the Rise
12 June 2009
An ancient form of exchange is making a comeback in the United States during this economic downturn. People and small businesses are bartering services and stuff: piano lessons, plumbing, accounting, furniture, even fresh vegetables!
Valerie Gates, for example, will work for food. Standing in her kitchen, the marketing expert - who doesn't do much cooking - reaps the harvest of a barter system she devised five months ago. Boston-area farmer Jake Ferreira has brought her a cooler packed with fresh, prepared meals, along with baby arugula, pesto, asparagus with spring garlic, and homemade cheese.
|Valerie Gates receives fresh foods and prepared meals from farmer Jake Ferreira in exchange for her marketing advice|
Gates fashioned a logo for Ferreira's fledgling company, . He and his business partner help people and schools plan and manage vegetable gardens. They also run a food catering company using local ingredients.
Gates usually charges a significant hourly rate for her marketing know-how, much more than some small businesses can afford. As an alternative, she started the .
"I wanted to find a way to offer my services to farms, and I realized that farms usually don't have money set aside for a marketing budget, but they do have produce!" she explains.
She now gives marketing advice to 15 New England farms in exchange for homegrown goods for her family.
It was a good move for Ferreira and his business partner, too.
|The logo Gates designed for Beetlebung Farm features a stylized rooster silhouette|
"We were looking for tools that could better establish our brand, and, in turn, she wanted to learn more about food and locally grown produce and the ability to cook."
While bartering is new to Gates, Jake Ferreira is familiar with this age-old concept.
"In a down economy," he observes, "it makes sense to return to certain traditions that can work out well, where people can trade for like items. For us in the agriculture field, it's very easy for us to barter. It's not quite an apple for an apple, but maybe it's chives for onions," he says with a laugh.
No insurance? No problem
For others, like , a trade could be a painting for, say, dental work.
|Scott Cahaly's studio is packed with art, and he has traded one painting for a visit to the dentist|
The 24-year-old artist doesn't have dental insurance. Sales have been slow, and his studio is packed with canvases and stone sculptures. So Cahaly joined , a company that acts as a bartering middleman.
"I need to get a crown for a back tooth, so I dropped off a painting, and I have to set up an appointment with the dentist. I should probably do it before my tooth falls out!"
Why buy when you can barter?
For some people, bartering is a very comfortable way of life. Twenty-seven-year old photographer says everything in her apartment is bartered for, even her plants. Her currency is wedding and family portrait packages.
MacDonald began bartering three years ago. She has plenty of paid jobs, but says swapping - not shopping - makes sense.
|Almost everything in photographer Kelly MacDonald's apartment is bartered for - from her chandeliers to her rugs, and the furniture in between|
"It's a lot more responsible for me, especially now in this economy, because I'm saving my money. Everything that comes in just gets put in the bank."
MacDonald arranges her trades online, using the advertising site Craigslist, and she's not alone. Over the past 12 months, traffic in the site's bartering category jumped 100 percent nationwide, 50 percent in Boston.
Trade thrives in tough times
Jim Hoopes, professor of business ethics at Babson College, says bartering flourishes when cash is hard to get. He points to the Great Depression as an example. In 1933, President Roosevelt shut down the country's banks for a full week. Money was scarce. As a result, a barter economy sprang up. Rural department stores accepted sheep for dresses, for example. But it was a temporary fix.
Hoopes explains that bartering is inefficient in an economy that's built on speed.
"It's a quaint, charming practice and it's fun to see and it reflects individual initiative, [but] as social policy, it's not something we want to encourage."
Because, he says, it's not a sign of a healthy economy. Cold, hard cash is, because it's a common medium of exchange. You can spend it anywhere, on anything.
But you can only take in so many sheep. Or big bags of salad greens.
1. Sometimes, we need it.
bartering is necessary for our economy, sometimes . It's another way to exchange .
Submitted by: kim yongwhan (south korea)
06-16-2009 - 08:23:49
2. oldest way
I think the bartering services was used among an ancient peoples,so it may be suitable more than nowaday ,where there are many governing factors ,that are affected on communities such as fiscal rapid activity ,international trade on wide field, confidence and also progress in techonology.
Submitted by: ebrahiem (egypt)
06-15-2009 - 13:38:11
3. Study Accounting
No find the way for study at the University.
Submitted by: chamroeun (Cambodia)
06-14-2009 - 23:22:25
i just love bartering on www.favorpals.com. it's the best bartering site ever.
Submitted by: nanni (usa)
06-14-2009 - 21:37:11
5. good idea
The bartering is good idea.I think that Japanese people should get takeing the bartering way in our life. Because the bartering style is like ECO life . So if the bartering way were imfluenced among the world ,it'll be decrease the junks day by day over the world. And we can saveing the mony more than now. Anyway I have to get the bartering way by myself immediately. I decided so that right now.
Submitted by: sunflower (japan)
06-14-2009 - 17:35:12
6. Please forward to Andea Shea
Dear Ms Shea,
Having just read your piece, "Cashless Economies on the Rise," I'd like to tell you about a first-of-its-kind barter project I'm currently developing with a prolific toy inventor and two brilliant young web designers here in the Boston area. We'll be introducing it around mid to late July, but if you'd like a prelaunch sneak peek, please send me your email address.
Submitted by: Mark Cohen (USA)
06-13-2009 - 12:39:29
7. best service bartering website
For Service and Goods, I recommend www.barterquest.com
It's free and outstanding!
Submitted by: barterqueen (usa)
06-13-2009 - 07:34:46