Trading Pictures, Community Swap Center, and Other Successful Barter Agreements

This installment of an ongoing series about reader-negotiated barter agreements includes stories from a Texas woman who has been trading pictures—photographs—for assorted goods and services and a California woman who established a community swap center.

| January/February 1979

  • 055 swap center- madgooch - fotolia.jpg
    In the case of one California woman, setting up a community swap center was just a matter of writing "Free" on the side of a wood crate.

  • 055 swap center- madgooch - fotolia.jpg

Bill Wodraska shared some of his thoughts regarding one of mankind's better ideas—barter—and offered up an interesting suggestion: "I'd like to see a continuing feature on barter agreements and skill-and-labor exchanges," said Bill. "You're on!" MOTHER EARTH NEWS replied.  

Trading Pictures

If you keep in mind that you're out to make friends - not get the better of 'em you'll find, as we have, that almost everyone is receptive to a good swap.

We often trade eggs, milk, firewood, and labor. We even swap chores with the children. As a matter of fact, I began my career ten years ago with a trade—a car "bought" me a camera—and then five years later 30 of my pet laying hens "paid" for another.

My photographs, in turn, have proven to be good swaps to businesses—for their advertising or record keeping—and to doctors or dentists who've used them to decorate their office walls. My most recent photographic exchange even netted me a jar of uncut opals. I think I'll trade some to a gem cutter in exchange for cutting the rest. And then I'll swap those for ... who knows!

Not that our family's trades always start with my photographs. My mate is a commercial fisherman and his fish are considered cash at the local garage (everyone has to eat!), health food store, cheese store, etc. The nicest part—we think—about having an edible commodity is that when we have surplus to just give away, we never know when the favor will be returned. We recently received a bushel of tangerines from an acquaintance we gave fish to six months ago!

Rae Dejur
S. Padre Island, TX

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