psy·chot·ic leop·ard sīˈkädik/ˈlepərd/ noun · anything that is funky, interesting, beautiful, niche, useful, and grabs one's attention

Cart 0

BENEFITS OF BARTER - The Serendipitous History of a Swapper - Part 1 in a Series of Four

Posted by Lisa Johnson on

Why trade?  In this economy, why not?  Barter, or the act of trading without the use of money, has many benefits, including the following:

  • SAVE CASH - benefit without spending money
  • SAVE TIME - have others do what you prefer not to
  • MAKE FRIENDS - everyone has something to offer
  • HELP THE ENVIRONMENT - reuse, recycle, reduce
  • EXERCISE YOUR BRAIN - learn how to negotiate and much more
  • EMPOWER - value labor and develop self-reliance, as well as the power of negotiation
  • BUILD COMMUNITY PRIDE - collective power through the individuals in a group

My earliest trade occurred at four years old. My childhood best friend, Tina, who lived across the street, came over with a tin of change. She tried to convince me to trade her "silver" for my "brown" (pennies). I was thrilled, but the swap was unfortunately cut short by our parents.

In elementary school, we traded stickers and items we designed ourselves, like Chinese jacks and friendship barrettes (you remember, the ones with the braided ribbons?).

In college, designing jewelry turned into a lucrative part-time career through barter.  Sheri, who was then unemployed, asked if I would trade my handmade beaded necklaces, earrings and bracelets (for her to sell) in return for high-end jewelry supplies. At nineteen, I wouldn't have dreamed of buying solid silver and gold earring hooks. Our barter enabled me to make a more upscale product, and attract a higher paying clientele.

In my early twenties, while backpacking and living in Europe, my beads and tools were currency which allowed me to barter my way across the continent. In Greece, I traded my handiwork for parasail and jetski rides. In Hungary, I got 20 unusual Raku pottery heads, some of which ended up in my kichen backsplash twenty years later. In Holland where I lived for a bit, I traded two necklaces for two bicycles (one went to the liaison who arranged the trade), and was all set with transportation for months!

Each trade gave me something - a great story to tell, and a connection to a stranger. This was priceless.

A couple of years ago, I decided to organize my own swap, or barter party, which I refer to as the "SWAPTACULAR." Here are just a few of the results - what I got (and what I traded):

-- several homemade AWESOME meals, including Indian, Italian, and Croatian cuisine (traded for jewelry and handbags, and one writing / tutoring lesson)

-- 2 custom knit patchwork and lollipop hippie scarves (in exchange for three leatherwork books)

-- significantly reduced tuition for son's sleepaway farm camp (he and I did PR at 2 camp fairs, so the director saved a weekend trip)

-- one of a kind custom made button-embellished jeans (for a Jill Stuart designer skirt)

-- website design (this was just for "being a good friend" :)

I hope to introduce the idea of barter to more people locally, because I want to make more friends, and get more cool stuff (plus, I’d love to get my floor polished and learnwelding, among other things. Wanna swap?

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment