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Bartering makes a comeback in today's economy

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Marina's on the Square Owner Doug Duross talks with customers dining in his restaurant. Duross has bartered his cuisine for other goods and services for years. TMP photo by Erin Edgemon
With budgets tight and uncertainty high in today’s economy, bartering is back in a big way.

“Right now barter is hotter than it has ever been in years,” said Mark Caldwell, owner of Tradebank in Nashville and Memphis, a bartering brokerage firm. “People are struggling to make ends meet with cash.”

So now, it is making financial sense for people to trade or barter when they can rather than using cash.

Amanda Botner, a local yoga instructor, decided to barter her services about four years ago when she was low on money.

“I wanted to figure out how to have more and feel like I had more to offer,” she said.

“(Bartering) enabled me to have a positive attitude on my financial situation even when it wasn’t good,” Botner added later.

Mostly with friends, Botner trades private yoga classes for such things as massage therapy and food.

Mary Catherine Wood, owner of Wood Tax Service, said bartering allows her to stay busy and helps her afford the little extras she usually wouldn’t spend her money on.

Through Tradebank, Wood provides tax preparation services in exchange for hotel stays.

Tradebank allows businesses to barter on a global scale through their member network rather than having to directly exchange services with their clients. Trades brokered through Tradebank have a 12-14 percent fee.

But there are many ways in which to barter; the traditional way between friends, posting an ad in the barter section on Craigslist; through a number of bartering Web sites like SwapThing, Barter Bucks and Barterbee; or by joining a local group.

Botner launched a bartering group on Yahoo called MurfreesboroMeets. Murfreesboro Freecycle, another Yahoo group, allows members to give away goods and request items they need.

Doug Duross, owner of Marina’s on the Square, said bartering through Tradebank allows him to raise awareness of his restaurant.

Out-of-town visitors may come to his restaurant solely because they can use Tradebank dollars, he said.

Duross does about $1,000 in trade a month at Marina’s, which allows him in exchange to get roof work done and windowing cleaning at his restaurant or get a free vacation.

He even barters food for dental work.

Botner advises to think outside of the box when it comes to bartering.

“I think it is important in these times that we realize we have more that we can give and receive from each other than money,” she said. “In the end, money is not what we need. We need the services, food and clothing.”

Erin Edgemon can be reached at 869-0812 and at eedgemon@murfreesboropost.com.

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