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Bartering: A Modern Day Phenomenon

Back in the early days of America, families didn't have much in the form of money. What they did have was skill, creativity, and a desire to help each other out. Most of us know of the "doctor" who is paid for his services with chickens, apples, or bread.

Bartering has deep roots in all of society. If you needed something and didn't have the know- how or money to do it, you could always find someone who wanted something you had or could do and thus "barter" for it.

Ahhh, the good ole' days when life was simple and trust was a family value. Did you know that in 2005 there are secret moms, dads, grandparents, and even children trading 'aka' bartering FAIRLY in the U.S.A.? Did you know that it even occurs on the World Wide Web?

The following tips might help you weed through the online bartering system:

1. Find a site or group that allows bartering

a. Do a google search for trade/barter/swap groups

2. Become a member

3. Make contacts and relationships with members thus getting to know whom you are doing business with.

a. Read "feedback" of the people you are doing trades with. This is positive or negative feedback of past trades that people have had with the potential trader.

4. List your needs and what you have to trade.

a. Some Trading Lingo: ISO= In Search Of; DISO= Desperately In Search Of; FS= For Sale; FSOT= For Sale Or Trade; PPO: Paypal Only; FFS: Free For Shipping;

5. Make the verbal/electronic agreement (details of trade)

a. **Warning- as with any contract over the Internet you need to use caution. Buyer/Trader Beware. You are trading at your own risk.

6. Ship the package out

a. You will want to ship the cheapest way possible. Get Delivery Confirmation so you and the receiver can track the package. Insurance is left up to the receiver.

7. Now just wait for the postal carrier for your trade.

a. In the "trading" world this has become known as "stalking" the Postman.

8. WARNING: Trading can be addictive!!!!

Bartering is not limited to online groups. All across America woman are forming groups/clubs and having "Bare Naked" parties. These consist of women and children and unwanted clothing.

Here is how they work:

1. Gather at someone's home (you will be trying on clothing so unless you are comfortable with undressing in front of everyone's spouse, it might be best for them to "hang out" somewhere else.)

2. Bring unwanted clothing, clothing that doesn't fit, shoes, etc?

3. "Bare Naked" and proceed with trying on of outfits, shoes, etc?

4. "If the shoe fits" as they say, It's yours!!!

5. Participants usually receive number of articles that they bring. I.E. if you bring 5 articles, you leave with 5 articles. This of course can be left up to the individual group.

Another phenomenon sweeping our nation is called "All Things In Common". This originated out of "needs" at a local church. Once month members gather all their unwanted items and bring them to the church.

Members draw a number, this dictates their turn in "shopping". Once everything is dispLaid and totals calculated (how many you brought is how many you get to choose)-The "shopping" begins. Members are chosen one by one randomly to "shop". They choose the number of items they brought and then the next "shopper" goes until all have shopped.

With everyone thinking about how they can minimize their impact on the earth, bartering is the perfect solution to a big problem. Freecycling is one of the largest online bartering systems going today. ( Freecycling came about by offering your goods for free instead of heaping it onto our over crowded landfills. Thus "another person's junk is someone else's treasure".

Freecyling is now all over the United States as well as Canada. You can join a local group or if there is not one locally, start your own. Here is how it works:

1. List your "haves" online or in a printed bulletin like PennySaver

2. Someone who "wants" your item will then contacts you to set up a time to pick up said item.

3. You get rid of something, they gain something and everyone is happy-including mother earth.

4. **WARNING: Always use caution with dealing with strangers online and offline.

In conclusion I would like to point out the dangers of relaying personal information on the Internet. Buyer/Trader Beware!! Safety and Common sense do need to be used with dealing with people we don't know.

Ways to get around this is to set up drop off points at public locations. Another way could be to start a group at a college or high school and open it up to the public once a quarter. You can even start a group among your circle of friends. Any way you choose to implement this newfound "JOY" will be surely worth it in the end. Stay safe and Happy Trading!!!


Amity Mama's - A place for crunchy moms to gather, talk, sell, and trade

Natural Living Swap - A yahoo group, just formed, swapping Waldorf, and Natural living items

Free Cycling- National Recycling/Freecycling group online and locally(in some locations)

By Sara Duggan © 2005

Sara Duggan lives with her family in California. She loves to crochet and write in her spare time. The Family owns Mama's Shoppe an online one stop shopping zone. Sign up for the newsletter and be entered into the weekly giveaway. Need to investigate a direct sale business? visit Sara's Direct Sale Opportunities site at


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