Saturday is a big day for business. Movie theaters, restaurants, retail stores, shopping malls, coffee shops and markets are all busy on Saturday. If all the sounds from credit card transactions, cash registers and coin purses could be heard at once it would be quite impressive. With all of this noise happening on Saturday there is a quieter type of commerce. The Barter.
Today I came back from the farmers market with: 5 bags of lettuce, a beef liver, duck eggs, asparagus, a colorful bag of died wool, some cured meat and a cheese board. Simply bartered for with crackers, hummus and granola. It is a weekly practice of ours with some of the fellow vendors and one of the best part of selling at farmers markets. It oftentimes comes from bad weather and low turnout where salad greens and some other items won’t be able to be sold for the next market.
You would be hard pressed to trade, or barter for everything you need, but it is more common than you may realize. It seems to be more popular in rural areas like Grey county Ontario where “a saubuck” is used as a system of barter, or trade. (“Sawbucks” was also used to name one of our favorite buckwheat crackers.) For something closer to home there is a for barter section on Craigslist you might want to check out.
It would be a different world if all of our business was offered in trade. New manufacturing would slow and eventually stop, banks would disappear and many skilled trades would come back. Not likely to happen anytime soon, but it might be fun to find other ways to make exchanges or harken back to the days on the playground where the best negotiator had the coolest marbles.