It’s probably not uncommon in these difficult economic times to be driving around in a ten year old car that looks fine on the outside but is sure to succumb to the annual trip to the local mechanic and then drop you a thousand dollars. But what if you could be ahead of the break and use your professional services as a writer, plumber of chiropractor to pay for this particular inevitability. Welcome to the
Barter Exchange. Hudson Valley
“Every body has an account so they do work at their prevailing price, and they get paid in barter dollars,” says co-founder Kevin Brown.
In other words, while chimney sweep may accrue an exchange member a thousand barter dollars for a job, the masonry work he needs done around the house can be paid for by that sum and whatever total happens to be in his account.
He can certainly window shop for a mason with his grand through the exchange database, but he does so with a lot less insight. “We have become more of a concierge service,” he says. “We ask everybody to call us and let us know what they need so we can smooth the way.”
Part of that is making sure services rendered have been delivered properly. “We ask people to let us know right away if they are happy with the work,” he says.
Nonetheless, when the mason’s cement mixer runs into its inevitable breakdown, barter exchange obviously works on the business end also. “We pretty much have everything you need for your business that you can trade for in terms of services,” he says.
It amounts to over 400 hundred companies that trade within the network. Of course, if
doesn’t have it covered there are
over 600 such operations across the country and cross trades make for an easy
transaction. “I just arranged for somebody to go to Hudson Valley for a weekend,”
he says. “I got the time share through an exchange up there.” Vermont
Still, since things like supermarket food, gas and general supplies don’t really work in a barter system, due to a slim profit margin, cash won’t become obsolete no matter how involved you get. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean the cash and barter economies are separate for
’s members. “If you ask small business owners what their
single best source of marketing is, they say word of mouth and referral,” he
Meaning, you’re on a barter job you might not have necessarily landed in the cash economy and the neighbor realizes his walkway needs fixing. “That’s a cash referral job,” he says, and contributes to the good word you already have as a mason.
At this point, you might be wondering where all this stands – if at all – with the IRS. “The reason we can do this is that all of the income is accountable for a 1099B,” he says.
Darn, but the $275 entry fee still sounds like a pretty good bargain given all the positives. The same goes for the modest monthly fee and the 6% charge per trade.
The alternative, though, is far from uncommon. “You won’t meet a business owner that doesn’t barter,” he says, and in the end, what is common is a feeling on both sides that the agreement has come up short, he adds.
In turn, satisfaction is built into the infrastructure the exchange has created and is then left to the database to proceed along the lines of good business practices. “A lot of it has to with trading with integrity. We just ask people to trade the way they want to be treated,” he concludes.