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Want to Trade? A Guide to Bartering

But of course…What are we trading?

The practice of bartering began long before my time; once a form of payment for needed services or products that a person might not have cash for but they certainly had something that could be used for payment.

It’s is interesting to see that since our economy began is downward spiral, there has a renewed spirit of bartering in the handmade community.

I have two shops on Etsy and one on ArtFire; there are many shop owners who barter between each other, it’s a great way to get an item you’ve had you eye on but don’t have the funds to buy it, but if you have or make something that another person could use, well then bartering is a viable option to get what you want and in some cases get what you need.

Just like with any business transaction there are certain rules and etiquette to follow.  Awhile back I opened my email to find that another Etsy shop owner was asking if I would consider a trade.  At first I was apprehensive and wasn’t sure how to answer…so I took the “wait and see” approach.  I went to her shop, which you can find here and I looked around.

She wanted crocheted napkins!

She makes amazing macrame items 🙂

We had just bought our daughter a guitar…

she needed a strap for her guitar…

I think this might work!

I know you might be thinking that this is a “no brainer” but I had never bartered before and it was kind of like being blindfolded in a dark room with no window…I didn’t know where to go, what to do and I was feeling my way through.

My experience had a very positive outcome and both sides were very happy with their products, but maybe their are others who don’t know what to do when asked if the “want to trade?”, “do you barter?” or maybe you see something in another sellers shop that you just “have to have” but you just can’t justify spending the cash right now…you want to ask but you’re afraid that they will think you’re a nut?

Or maybe you’ve been asked but there is nothing in their shop that you could use right now or it’s just not your “cup of tea?”

All great concerns!  Maybe others have this urge to barter but just don’t know what to do…so I’ll share some guidelines that have help me.

If you are [asking] to barter…

Just ask: If you see something you like it never hurts to ask that shop seller if they honor or participate in bartering.  Many sellers will post that on their shop announcement if they do or don’t. Also check out that sellers policy page, their preferences might be posted there.

No Harm, No Foul: If their answer is “no” then be sure to write back and thank them for considering your request and move on.  Remember, this should be a mutual benefit for both parties.  They might not see anything in your shop that interests them, don’t take it personal.

Be ready to deal: Many times what you want from the other seller costs more than one of your items in your shop.  This is where the dealing comes in.  Either offer to pay the difference or let the other person know that you are willing to barter several items to equal the price of what you want.

Don’t haggle: Hello!  they are running a business just like you are.  Don’t ask them to lower their price.  Trade for the price of the item or move on.

Information in key: Leave all of your information so they can make a decision without having to come back to you several times asking questions.  If you have more than one shop, list all of URL’s for easy access, also if you have items that you don’t want to trade, this would be the time to mention this little detail.  Shipping should be of equal value to, so let them know how much is on the table for shipping.

If you are [asked] to barter…

Acknowledge the request: Let the person know that you have received their request and that you will look through their shop or shops and that you will get back to them shortly with an answer. Don’t just say no immediately! [read below] Take a minute to look at their shop and their designs, you might be surprised.

No Offense: Consider this a compliment that someone loves your handmade items so much that they are willing to trade.  Don’t think this is wrong or low class; it’s not and trust me it takes courage to ask another seller if they would consider a trade.

Be kind: If there is just nothing that you want or desire in the shop of the person sending you the request, be kind and let them know.  This is just business people!  But be kind and respond with; “thank you for asking, I’ve had a chance to browse your shop and it is lovely but at this time offers nothing that I need.”

It’s a deal: If you found something you like of equal value then let the person requesting know what you would like to barter for the item they want from your shop.  If there is a price difference this needs to be worked out now.  Assume that if they are wanting to barter then they don’t want to lay out any money, so the value of the item you are choosing should be equal or more than the item they want from you.  Example:  Requester wants a $20 item in your shop, you choose something that is $30 from their shop….you would be responsible for paying them $10. It’s not rocket science.

If you’re  Etsy sellers and  you’ve make this request through a convo, then you have to do this transaction in your shops or Etsy admin will think you are trying to avoid fees.  It is easy to add or change the listing to reserved and change pricing if necessary.  For Lara and I we were making the items so we just listed them as “reserved for” added the shipping and we each processed our transactions and they offset each other.  Actually I think I owed her money but she just adjusted her price to reflect the difference.

I’m not familiar with ArtFire policy but because they allow me to cross market my shop and there are no fees then I’m assuming that this is not an issue.

Going outside of Etsy you will need to use personal emails and photos in your online photo site or send photos in email attachments.  Use PayPal invoicing  for payment transactions.  Why do this if trading?  Good question…if you are running a business you need to track this sale, trade or not it is still a sale for you, treat it as such.  I’ll let you work out the bookkeeping issues.

Why shouldn’t  we practice the fine art of bartering like it was done way back in the day?

Share you bartering experiences?

Do you barter in shop?

**A special thank you to Lara of Knotty Hemp Creations for her friendship and sweet spirit. Be sure to check out her Etsy shop!

Her Facebook page KnottyHempCreations

and check this out…

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • I do this ALL the time 🙂 WAHMs send me their products and I plug them on my site. Good for me (I get free products), good for them (they get free advertising to 10s of thousands). I feel blessed to be able to do this.

    Also, right before I read this I made a trade offer to a mama for some knit longies (pants) that don’t fit Sterling anymore in return for some she has that will fit Sterling.

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