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The Benefits of Barter

(October 2010) posted on Thu Oct 07, 2010

With the recovery still going at a snail’s pace, it may not be a bad time to think about the advantages of barter for your business.


By Craig Miller

I love a good trade, probably because barter is in my blood. As this is written, my company just took in trade nearly $1000 worth of product. This was something we wanted, but didn’t have the discretionary money to buy. I calculate we paid about 33 cents on the dollar for it. The client obviously thinks it was a good trade for them, yoo, because we already have a second job.

My granddad, Jesse Miller, was a legendary horse trader. He was a young, single man in 1880 when, one Saturday, he saddled up a tall quarterhorse and headed out for a night on the town. His steed was a handsome stud colt he recently broke and wanted to show off, much like today’s young men cruise in their cars. As he passed by a neighbor’s place, he noticed the neighbor had a new buckboard wagon. “That would come in handy,” he said to himself.

Granddad completed the journey to town atop the buckboard, having traded his quarter horse for the wagon and a young fit workhorse. Later that evening, he met Florence, my grandmother, at a dance in town. After a few dances he asked if he could give her a ride home and she accepted. At the next break, he went outside and traded the buckboard and workhorse he had just acquired for very fine looking horse and carriage. From my perspective, granddad had a very successful evening of barter.

Cash is optional
With the recovery still going at a snail’s pace, it may not be a bad time to think about the advantages of barter for your own business. Even if you don’t have “two nickels to rub together,” you can trade your products or services to another company or individual who has something you need. Cash is optional.
Barter can be broken down into two categories: straight trade and indirect trade.

The oldest form of barter is a straight trade between two individuals. Each has what the other wants and wants what the other has. If the items or services are of equal value, they’re traded and no cash need change hands. This is my favorite, because it’s a continuation of the “horse trading” tradition.


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