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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – In a struggling economy, there's no doubt money is tough. Business owners say people just aren't spending the cash they do have like they used to and that's why they're turning to bartering to keep their businesses going.
"It's feast or famon some days," said local business owner John Herman, who owns a local car detailing shop. "Sometimes it gets so slow that you just feel like closing up shop."
Herman said shutting down and giving up is not an option for him as he continues to try and earn a living. But he says bartering has been his saving grace.
"It's a great way to do business as well," he said. "Especially when it's an equal and fair exchange of products and services. There's no better way to do it."
Bartering is considered a business within itself to Herman and others who dabble in the trade.
"If you can get it without having to spend that cash then by all means," said Herman.
You may remember learning about bartering in your high school social studies class or even in your college economics 101 class.
Dr. Woody Hall is an economics professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and said bartering is the most elemental and most basic form of exchange between individuals.
Hall said bartering has been around for centuries and becomes a viable option for many people facing a tough economy.
"With bartering it allows you to get the equal dollar amount for the services you render for the services that somebody else has," said Hall. "Barter tends to resurface every so often and I don't think it every goes away completely."
Hall said the act of bartering surfaces when unemployment is high, cash flow is low and times just get really tough.
It's a great solution for people who don't have the cash, don't have the coin and don't have the money to buy those products.
If you're interested in bartering, it is really simple to start. Those who barter say Craigslist and Facebook open up the field for networking giving people what they want, when they want it.
"The things that would normally take me a while to come out of pocket for to where I can do this, I can barter and it just happens instantly," explained Herman.
Most say the possibilities are endless when it comes to bartering. Hall said anything you want but don't want to come out of pocket for can be bartered.
Cars, boats, toys, tools, plumbing, electronics, land and even rent can all be bartered.
Herman barters his car cleaning services to his landlord, who's a local car dealer looking to keep his cars shiny without spending a penny.
Herman said it's great because he knows he will always make rent and always has a customer. Even something as simple as getting your grass cut could be bartered.
Krystal Klass is another business woman who barters after the economy got the best of her house cleaning business.
"My yard is a mess and I don't have a lawn mower or time to," said Klass. That's when she got the idea to start bartering.
"I was like I clean houses," she said. "There are plenty of people who do landscape maybe someone will want their house cleaned in exchange for me doing their yard."
Klass had a couple clients and then they had to drop off right after tax time she explained.
"The first thing they drop is the luxury service," she said. "Landscapers, housekeepers and nannies," she explained are the first things to go.
But bartering is harder than what it seems.
Hall said in order to get what you want you have to have what someone else wants so as a result you have to do some searching and even with some searching, you might not get what you want.
Herman agreed saying, "Sometimes you have to come out of pocket a little bit because it's not always an equal trade value or sometimes you get helped out a little bit with some cash but it all kind of comes out in the wash."
Herman's hoping others will at least try one of history and economics most original forms of exchange at some point or another and perhaps even crossing paths with him and his services.
"I think bartering will always be around," he said. "It's convenient whenever times are tough and times are tight to keep business doors open."
Herman said it's all about keeping doors open and getting people what they need and want without having to cough up the cash.
Tips on how to start bartering:
-Check out Craigslist. Even if you look at the listings in your town, many people across the state post their services and are willing to come to you.
-Find groups on Facebook. Local counties often have groups where people post, network and share their services and products and are always looking for new people to join and offer what they have. Take a look at Bladen County's Swap Site
-Spread the word. You never know when a friend of a friend of a friend is in need of a detailing job or needs plumbing work done. If you don't put yourself out there, no one will.
-Be careful. Know who you are bartering with. Often you don't record or document bartering "transactions" so just be sure who you are working with comes through with their end of the deal.
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