why buy when you can barter?

I learned something new today.  (Now can I go back to sleep?)  I’ll share with you and maybe you’ll learn something new too.

The concept of bartering is not new.  Nor are bartering websites.  I’ve even had my own experiences with them.  But I didn’t know about all the sites that made ecosalon‘s top 20 list.

Here are a few that were new to me…



What’s traded? Books…and book-related gossip.

How does it work? It’s not just a site to swap books back and forth (you list the books you have; other people request them when you’ve posted your list; you get credit to request books yourself). It’s a reading community, with reviews, discussion forums and all sorts of lines of communication at work. That final “Relate” in the tagline is what makes it distinct from its competitors.



What’s traded? Only your home, dude. No biggie.

How does it work? Obviously this is a big deal, in every sense. This site is all about permanent house trading, and so it’s really a sophisticated way of getting in contact with people – no PayPal purchasing here – but the backbone of the site is a very real Real Estate Network.



What’s traded? Well, now, this should polarize you. Fancy putting on the slightly used makeup of a stranger?

How does it work? You browse the items on offer – you find something of your own that the swapper would be willing to accept in return – and off you go. The FAQ notes that all swapped items should be cleaned with alcohol before swapping, and only unused mascara should be swapped, but even so, there will be some people who will flinch. Since there’s a feedback system and therefore an element of accountability, there’s probably little to fear. Satisfied or disappointed swappers can also air their views on a product review page.



What’s traded? Clothes and books.

How does it work? Rehash is in it for the good of the environment (their recycling-style logo is a big clue). When you “rehash” (i.e. put up for swap) an item, it’s listed as a page in the site’s Trading Post hub, and people make offers that you can flick through and weigh up. Once you’ve confirmed a mutually acceptable deal, the mechanics of getting item to new owner are left completely up to you. The site also has a nice line in community-based activities and reference resources.



What’s traded? Unwanted bags of seeds – anything from vegetables to trees.

How does it work? Unfortunately, by the looks of it, it isn’t working – there’s not much going on in that site right now. But it’s such a fun idea that I felt it worth including for the concept alone. Trading plant seeds has terrific potential (although food-related legislation might be a hurdle to clear) – and postage? Cost of a stamp.



What’s traded? Everything under the sun.

How does it work? Want the push & pull of a negotiated deal? This is the place for you, because you don’t swap based on existing predetermined values – you decide how much your swap is worth, by haggling (using their fancy electronic negotiation system). When you both see eye to eye , the swap can take place – accompanied with the quiet satisfaction of knowing you gave it your best shot.



What’s traded? In theory, anything you like, large or small. (Since it’s new, it’s still sparsely-populated).

How does it work? There are no points, no credits…it’s all about how much you think your swappable item is worth. You use this SF-based site to come to an arrangement on your terms only. It looks nice, there are plenty of great features (such as finding deals within so many miles of your home) – but right now it’s waiting for enough people to bring it alive. One to watch.



What’s traded? In a word, glam. Clothes, accessories, cosmetics, shoes.

How does it work? You build up your swapping potential by gaining a positive feedback score, so that other people can see you’re a trustworthy recipient of their fashion triumphs. You can also go for Address Verification status, which is a physical letter containing a code that once entered, confirms you’re where you say you are. Once you’re trusted and verified, you never have to wear the same thing twice and you can keep your principles intact.



What’s traded? Mainly music, but generally a bit of everything in the realm of the small to medium-sized.

How does it work? This site is much more eBay-esque in that you can offer an item for swapping, but also choose to sell it, transacting via PayPal. There’s no fancy automated bartering engine behind the scenes: you create adverts, you sift through e-mails, and you move items and/or money around. It’s strictly hands-on, so if you’re a control freak, this is the one for you.



What’s traded? Books, music, film & television DVDs, and video games.

How does it work? It’s all about the barcode. Input the UPC or the ISBN from the back of the item you have, and the fancymajiggery behind the scenes at Swaptree will find what items are offered for trade in return, and display them Amazon-style down the screen. What’s more, it’ll keep searching while you’re logged off, meaning you’re faced with a new list of potential swaps every time you log on. Specific to entertainment media – but brilliant at what it does.



What’s traded? Things from the very, very small to the astounding large.

How does it work? “World’s Largest Online Barter Exchange Auction Site”, TradeAway boldly claims. It’s big, we’ll give them that, but that big? Anyway, there’s plenty to see here. Listings range from the so-brief-they-must-be-spam all the way to exhaustively detailed multimillion-dollar property offers, but the theme is bartering. It’s true: this is where hugely expensive real estate gets swapped!

For the full list of 20 be sure to check out the article here.


One Comment to “why buy when you can barter?”

  1. Another site you might want to check out is http://barterquest.com that is the site I use for bartering.

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