What is Bartering?
A barter, or a trade, is an exchange of goods or services between two or more parties without the use of currency. Bartering for a good or service is different than purchasing a product because there is no money involved. Bartering is a form of non-monetary exchange.
Often monetary value is used to find an equivalent or roughly equivalent value of goods or services that are being bartered. Since most of us are used to valuing goods and services in currency, currency can be a convenient measure of value. However, it is not necessary to use currency to measure value. Often, value can be very personal and when monetary value is removed from the picture, expression of value can be more open and less constrained.
Hybrid barter and Monetary Exchange
It is certainly possible and normal to use money (such as USD or STEEM) to make up for some value when the agreed value of goods/services being bartered are not equal.
Proof of a Desire to Barter
We gave our vendors the option to elect whether they are open to bartering. At the time of writing nearly half of our vendors have already specified that they are open and willing to consider bartering with customers and/or vendors. Many of our vendors already see value in being able to barter. This is very positive feedback we are on the right track in offering value to our community.
The Fear of Missing out on Profit
Aren’t we worried that we won’t be able to oversee bartering activity or profit from it? What if vendors barter and we can’t control their activities?
This is exactly the fear that we want to avoid. Fear of loss of profit can lead to greed. As mentioned above our vendors have already expressed through their actions that they would like to have the option to operate in non-monetary exchange of goods and services.
By letting go of fears and letting go of control we are able to open our marketplace to new possibilities in personal freedom and economic choice. These freedoms and choices are not new but they may not be obvious or easily realized in our dominant economy, dictated by industrial commerce.
Opting Out of Greed
By not seeking profit, our market’s participants may interchange goods and services for like value. By not choosing profit we can opt out of middlemen in our transactions. Middlemen of transactions historically seek profit. A middleman that chooses to grow, and is able to grow, plausibly passes a point of seeking profit that turns into a greed snowball. Greed places dollar signs on the backs of customers, shoppers and advertisers until they are no longer seen as humans, but are seen only as profit or lack thereof. All decisions are made based on maximizing profit or minimizing loss, rendering ethics, morality and humanity obsolete.
Homesteaders Co-op is not a middleman in any transactions, whether they are made with money, by trade or as a gift. By choosing not to be a middleman we have the unique opportunity to opt out of greed. Certainly it is possible for greed to make its way into our marketplace, our minds and our actions. But our initial success and track record has been built on generosity, independence, empowerment and choice. Our actions and reputation are recorded on the steem blockchain for anyone to audit.
What is possible, that wasn’t possible before, when we put our ethics first and fear takes a back seat? This is what we hope to continue to reveal as we continue on with this intention.
First Successful Barter
I appreciate that @papa-pepper (of Pepper Family Homestead: vendor of seeds, accessories, crafts and more in Homesteadesr Co-op) recently made this request to barter with my seed project, Seeds of Abundance. He was interested in a few of the seeds that we are offering and suggested a trade. I had already been interested in some of The Pepper Family Homestead’s products and found a few more that interested me and we set the terms of our barter by email, outside of the Homesteaders Co-op marketplace.
It was a true peer to peer exchange. It was a successful barter inspired by our marketplace and transacted outside of any system, even outside of Homesteaders Co-op.
In my experience bartering can (but doesn’t always) lead to generosity, especially when I am bartering with people I know, people I respect or people that I can share interest or values with.
Because we are communicating about an exchange we have the opportunity to exchange ideas, language and ideally build more trust. When we are bartering we have a relationship that goes beyond the typical add to cart and checkout. There is opportunity for both recipients to get more value than we expected and a feeling of gratitude to share and trade with each other.
There is a certain lack of perfection in this type of transaction. A computer or a businessman might call this transaction messy and having a lack of accountability. But isn’t life often messy? Nature is messy and imperfect. Being of nature, perhaps we humans are also meant to be less than perfect. Perhaps it is ok not to hold ourselves to a standard of perfection, a standard of clear reconciliation and a maximization of profit.
And so I celebrate money because it gives us opportunities to transact with people we may not have been able to transact with otherwise. And I celebrate bartering because it reminds me of my humanity and brings me closer to the people that I transact with (those whom I trust), which leads to more pride and humility in my actions and appreciation and respect for my peers and our community.