Thursday, January 26, 2012

Barter and trade on an everyday level.

My shop on Etsy has not been doing as well as I thought it would.  I'm not exactly sure why this is... I have a number of theories, all of which are probably true to some extent, and that all revolve around me not marketing myself enough.  So while I'm working on doing that, I've decided to approach a few other Etsy shop owners and see if they would be up for a little barter, because I have tons of stuff worth trading for.  And you know what?  A lot of them love the idea!

It actually makes sense to do business this way sometimes.  Especially in a crappy economy, like right now, where it seems like everyone is just barely scraping by.  We all still have lots of stuff and/or time, but money is pretty scarce.  So what do you do?  You trade!  Sure, I'll babysit my neighbor's kids for a few hours in exchange for some awesome home-grown vegetables.  Yeah, I'll swap you my extra hairdryer I'm not using for that funky costume jewelry you are getting rid of.  Why not?  It tickles my hippie-commune-living-wannabe fancy to think that even in "the real world," sometimes, this actually works.  And not just with friends and neighbors, either.  I see it happen all the time between vendors at the farmers' market, for example.  The government HATES this, of course, because there are no taxes paid on barter, and no real way to prove it even happened.  All the better reason to do it, in my opinion, ha ha...

But seriously, there are a few other reasons why bartering is a good idea.  For one, it is eco-friendly.  Just think of all the stuff in your life that you own but do not use or need anymore (c'mon, we ALL could stand to get rid of a few things!)  Now imagine that you could trade that unwanted stuff for something you do want, or better yet, something you actually NEED.  That's a hell of a lot better than all your stuff ending up in the garbage!  Another advantage to the barter system is that it builds community.  Growing up, I can't tell you how many times my parents stopped at garage sales when we were out and about running errands on a Saturday, and I never understood why, since they rarely bought anything.  Now I know it's partly because they just liked to chit-chat with other people that lived in the area.  And what's wrong with that?

In a true Utopian society, everything would work on the barter system because there would be no need for money.  Everyone would work or contribute to the best of their ability, and share their goods or services with each other.  This idea also poses a sort-of "chicken and egg" question, because it would require a very tight-knit community for this to be possible, but wouldn't living in this manner also form a very tight-knit community?  I believe that the barter system is one way that we can begin to foster this sense of community, and perhaps help to bring about some really positive social change.

Besides, if the economy doesn't improve anytime soon, we're all going to have to get used to being broke and adapt accordingly.  Bartering and trading is one such way to adapt, which is yet another positive.  In fact, it doesn't seem like there are any real drawbacks to the barter system, unless you have a surplus of something that no one wants or needs.  Thankfully, because it is easy to connect to millions of people online, that is highly unlikely.


  1. I love bartering through my shop! It's a great way for me to get things I want. Right now I'm trading some spinning fiber for a handmade gemstone pendant. Win-win! :)

  2. Don't you love that? I'm trading for a pendant right now, too! (I gave her some charms she really liked.) Maybe we should do some barter sometime! I certainly love (and have a use for) high-quality handmade yarn. :)