Bartering is a key part of a good garage sale experience. Whether you are the host or the shopper, you can benefit from knowing a little more about bartering -- its history and uses, and how you can apply it today.
Bartering has always been a human way of obtaining necessary goods, by exchanging them for a surplus of other goods that have less value to the person giving them away than what they want in return. Before money existed, the barter system was used by cultures across the globe; exchanges of food for pelts, or gold for jewels were made by participating parties. When the concept of money was invented, it became the in-between -- a temporary product that people without specific skills or goods could use to get what they wanted from parties looking for something besides what they had to offer.
In the world of garage saling, bartering has come to be a synonym for bargaining, or negotiating a price for one or more items. These two concepts are not actually the same. A more accurate example of bartering at a garage sale would be someone offering to repaint your bathroom in exchange for your vintage armoire. Instead of using money, which will be used by you to purchase food, entertainment, or other goods you need from vendors who can actually provide them, you are making a direct transaction of labor for goods, fulfilling both needs directly.
Bargaining is a great skill to have when it comes to yard saling, but bartering can actually be just as useful. Say, for example, that you have a garden in your backyard, and have grown a surplus of summer vegetables. Not everyone will be interested in those fresh, homegrown, organic veggies, but some people just might be, so you could take along a batch in your car and offer them instead of money for items you'd like to purchase. Alternatively, you may be willing to do manual labor that most people find unpleasant, and instead of doing it for a company where you have to deal with coworkers and other concerns, you can offer your services directly to a garage sale host who needs it for the set of shirts you'd like to obtain from them.
Here are some tips a good barterer should know:
- Keep track of your skills or products and how much value you place on them. Redesigning an office, for instance, with proper feng shui, might be worth $20 to you, so offer it to someone in exchange for an item or items that total $20 in value.
- When you're giving away an item in exchange for a service or goods you'll get at a later time, be sure to get something down in writing so you're guaranteed to get your end of the deal.
- When deciding what to offer, stay specialized; don't be too broad with what you offer, or else you may find yourself handling a job you don't have the specialty skills for.
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