Bartering in a sour economy
Some Massachusetts residents turn to bartering due to tight finances, and they're getting creative with what they're trading.
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The sour economy is forcing may people to cut back on spending, but what do you do if you need a dentist or a plumber in a hurry and you don't have cash to pay the bill? Many people are turning to bartering, where services are exchanged cash-free. Individuals are doing it, but so are some businesses.
On "Here and Now," Andrea Shea has this story on how some Massachusetts residents have turned to trade when money is tight.
Valerie Gates will work for food -- no really -- she does it all the time. The marketing expert who doesn't cook much, reaps the harvest of a barter system she devised five months ago. Gates fashioned a logo for fledgling farm company, Beetlebung Farm, LLC. The company helps people and schools build vegetable gardens on Martha's Vineyard; they also cater using local ingredients. Gates receives freshly prepared meals from Beatlebung Farm.
Gates usually charges $100 dollars an hour for her marketing know-how. As an alternative, she started the Will Work for Food project, where she gives marketing services to 15 New England farms in exchange for homegrown goods for her and her family: "I wanted to find a way to offer my services to farms, and I realized that farmers usually don't have money set aside for marketing budget, but they do produce."
Jake Ferreira is co-owner of Beetlebung Farm. He explains his barter with Gates: "We were looking for tools that we 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, Ferreira is well aware that the concept is age old: "In a down economy it makes sense to return to certain traditions that can work out well where people can trade for like items. For us, in the agricultural community it's very easy for us to barter -- it's not quite an apple for an apple, but maybe it's chives for an onion."
For others though, a trade coule be a piece of art for say, dental work. Twenty-four year old stone carver and painter Scott Cahaly doesn't have dental insurance; his Summerville studio is packed with art. Sales has been slow, so Cahaly joined Barter Connections, a company that acts as a bartering middleman.
Cahaly: "I need to get a crown ... so I dropped off a painting and I have to set up an appointment with the dentist."
On the popular classified website Craigs List, traffic to the bartering category jumped 100 percent nationwide in the past 12 months.
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