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   The Wall Street Journal

In Lean Times, Restaurants Barter for Trade Services

As they struggle to keep customers and pay the monthly bills, restaurants are swapping food for services like oven-hood cleaning and pest control.

Bartering helps restaurants fill seats, reassuring prospective customers who might be turned off by the sight of a vacant eatery. It also attracts new customers when tradespeople bring friends along, reduces some costs, and helps retain employees who can't scoop tips off empty tables.

It's hardly a permanent fix for ailing restaurants, which still need cash to cover such expenses as rent, mortgages, taxes and utilities. But bartering is an especially useful tool for independent restaurants that, unlike some chains, lack access to corporate credit lines or cash.

   The Charlotte Observer

Learning the trade

Last December, Hal Berger took his wife, Gayle, and 5-year-old daughter, Sydney, to see the Christmas lights in McAdenville. Sydney brought along a group of her closest 5-year-old friends to enjoy the holiday fun.

Everyone enjoyed the evening that might have been mired in stress from tangled traffic headaches except for one thing: they went in a stretch limousine.

"I would have never hired a limousine for that," said Berger, who owns the Berger Law Group in SouthPark.

But as a member of the Carolina Trade Exchange, a year-old bartering business, Berger was able to pay for the evening with trade dollars he accumulated by providing legal services to other CTE members.

In addition to the limousine ride, Berger, 48, has bartered for wine, massages for his wife and computer services for his office. He's given trade dollars to friends and clients. Since he began bartering last year, he has seen his own business grow and has met folks from all walks of life. And judging by the broad smile on his face, he's having fun doing it.

A Fair Trade

Twenty years ago, Toni Foley began bartering. These days, she won’t run her restaurant—five-year-old Eastside Café in Fairport, New York—without the practice. Foley has used her barter dollars for carpeting, trash disposal, a storage unit, and for customer gifts—all while conserving cash.

“I see nothing but benefits with bartering,” Foley says. “I get to network with other local businesses, gain exposure to new customers, and have access to a variety of products and services for the restaurant and myself.”

An age-old practice spanning centuries and continents, bartering, the simple swapping of one service or product for another, is enjoying a contemporary resurgence spurred by the economy’s tumult. As restaurants struggle with declining customer counts and seek ways to stir traffic and boost revenue amid fixed costs, bartering is gaining increased appeal and acceptance.

   Phoenix Business Journal

How Creative Entrepreneurs Are Beating the Recession

Necessity really is the mother of invention. While the recession continues to batter small businesses, some wily entrepreneurs are using unconventional strategies to hold their own.

They’re finding creative ways to tighten their belts, do more with less and drum up unexpected sales. And because I facilitate peer advisory groups -- where small-business owners meet to share ideas and experiences -- I’m lucky enough to learn what some of them are up to.

I’m also happy to share the buzz with you. Perhaps you can use some of these ideas in your business, or let them inspire you to brainstorm some new moves of your own:

Let’s make a (New) Deal. One of the upsides of a soft economy is that everyone is hungry for business. That makes it the perfect time to renegotiate terms with vendors. For example, one entrepreneur I know crafted this unusual announcement, which he mailed to all of his suppliers:


Barter Firms Hope To Profit From Online Swapping

After operating the profitable Mark Two Dinner Theater in Orlando, Fla., for 15 years, Mark Howard no longer had to sing for his supper. But he's not above having his actors sing for his dry cleaning or plumbing. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Internet barter, the digital extension of a millennia-old business practice. Where once small businesses traded in a market square, they now trade on a Web site. And this is no two-bit act--the International Reciprocal Trade Association, Chicago, estimates that as of 1998, $12.8 billion worth of goods and services were being bartered annually. Howard, whose theater and a related costume rental businesses together generate $3.2 million per year in sales, estimates he'll barter more than $40,000 worth of tickets this year, plus another $35,000 in costume rentals.

Enter the Internet, stage right. Local Web-based barter ventures are quickly going nationwide. The latest attraction: BarterNet, Woodside, Calif. It is linking local barter networks and hopes to have 100,000 small businesses registered as trading members by the end of the summer. Its first affiliate is The Exchange, an Orlando, Fla., barter company whose clientele includes 1,500 small and medium-sized businesses.


A Savior When Cash Is Tight

Cash is tight, but small businesses still need goods and services. That's why more have been turning to bartering--trading what they have for something they need. The International Reciprocal Trade Association estimated that 400,000 companies around the world did $12 billion worth of transactions last year, up 10% from 2007, with American companies accounting for the bulk.

A barter deal can be a one-off transaction between two parties--say, an exchange of $5,000 in dental work for $5,000 in landscaping. It can also take place through a formal exchange. These clearing houses facilitate trade by equating each product and service to a certain amount of "trade dollars," thus ensuring both sides get something of equal value in return. Article Controls

Bob Bagga, chief executive of BizXchange, says his Seattle-based barter network, which orchestrated about $50 million worth of trades last year, saw a 40% increase in new members and a 55% increase in the number of transactions from 2007. This year, the IRTA predicts that North American exchange networks will see a 15% to 35% increase in deals.


Do You Barter? The IRS Wants Its Cut

If Rodney Dangerfield were alive, he might complain that even bartering is in a recession. Yet the Internal Revenue Service thinks otherwise and seems to be paying more attention to taxing barter activity.

At least that's the impression from an e-mail that appeared in my inbox recently. "Do you barter?" queried the headline. Somehow, I knew this e-mail was not about Bart Simpson. In fact, it sounded almost accusatory. No, I actually don't barter (honest), though I think lots of people out there do. Article Controls

The e-mail was one of a series of regular releases the IRS sends to tax lawyers, accountants and even regular citizens who care to sign up. It's a great way to keep up with all the rules and regulations the IRS churns out and to keep an eye on what the agency is worrying about. You do, however, sometimes get news items you'd rather ignore. I'll bet that is the reaction a lot of recipients have to the IRS's recent missive on bartering.

A Barter Economy

Let's face it: 2007 wasn't the best time to start a new business in Miami Beach. The real estate market had already crashed, and spiraling gas prices would soon dent the vital tourism industry.

So when Cleveland Cook, 40, found the need to hire an accountant for Can I Have Your Attention, his new advertising and branding agency, what he really wanted to know was, "Can I have a deal?"

Fortunately he found Claudia Peralta, a former corporate accountant who was just starting her own accounting practice around the same time. The two worked out an arrangement: Peralta would do all of Cook's number-crunching in return for a logo, website, postcards and "Everything else she needed to kick-start her business."

Bartering in Business

Entrepreneur Chris DeMassa is busy trading on his company's name. DeMassa, founder and president of 14-employee Arcata, California-based trademark research and consulting firm TradeMark Express, has bartered for everything from printing jobs to entertainment tickets.

DeMassa, 49, thinks barter is a great way to build business. He estimates 10 percent of his $1 million annual sales are generated through barter. "That's 10 percent we wouldn't have otherwise," he says. "It makes better use of our resources and lowers our cost of doing business."

Barter for a Better Bottom Line

Professional barter exchanges help businesses attract new customers and boost sales.

When Paul Fitzsimmons has a leaky roof or a problem with plumbing, he doesn't pay for the repairs with cold, hard cash. He pays with business cards, T-shirts and signs from his Pensacola, Florida, printing company, Print Now Inc. Fitzsimmons, 37, uses printed goods as currency in the Gulf Coast Trade Exchange, which allows him to conserve cash by spending barter dollars earned from "selling" products and services to other member companies.

When he bought Print Now in 2003, the company was already a member of the barter exchange. Though new to bartering, Fitzsimmons recognized the benefits immediately. Not only has the barter exchange helped offset operating expenses, but along with roofers and plumbers, he also uses it to obtain cleaning and electrical services for his approximately $1 million business. It has also been a steady, reliable source of new business. "Not only does it bring in trade dollars, it also brings in cash," says Fitzsimmons, who estimates his business has grown 6 percent as a result of the barter exchange. "It's a definite networking tool. I probably would never have had [these additional sales] if they hadn't known about me through the exchange."

   The Post and Courier

Old-fashioned bartering helps pare medical bills

Cash, check or a cord of wood for that doctor visit? As health care costs climb, old-fashioned bartering has seen brisk growth since the economy soured.

Hillsborough, N.J.-resident Robert Josefs traded his Web site designing skills for nearly $1,000 in dental work last year when he had no insurance, and many other patients are learning that health care debts don’t always have to be settled with sometimes-precious cash.

Health care bartering has risen dramatically since the recession began, as people lose their health insurance and consumer spending drops, said Allen Zimmelman, a spokesman for the Bellevue, Wash.-based trade exchange ITEX Corp.

ITEX Corp. has seen its health care business rise 45 percent over the past year. The exchange, which has 24,000 members, now fosters about $1 million a month in health care bartering.

The Web site Craigslist says overall bartering posts have more than doubled over the past year as the recession took hold.

People who barter for health care say the practice allows them to stretch their resources or receive care they couldn’t afford. But bartering can be tricky, and not every health care provider will consider it.

   NBC News

No cash for medical bills? Bartering pays

GOSHEN, Ind. — At age 15, with a baby due in October, Stephany Celis already has racked up more than $400 in medical bills for prenatal care at the Maple City Health Care Center.

Even with a steep discount on the clinic’s sliding scale for fees, the debt threatened to swamp the fragile finances of the uninsured Goshen High School student and her family, who struggle to get by on her father’s wages from a local scrap yard.

And it’s a bill that might have remained unpaid – along with the others that will follow — if not for an innovative program that allows cash-strapped patients to swap skills and services to reduce what they owe.

   Keiser Health News

Bartering For Health Care Rises

When people in Floyd County, Va., visit Dr. Susan Osborne, they can pay for their medicals exam with vegetables, lessons, carpentry services as well as cash. Bartering is a way of life in the rural area, Dr. Osborne says: “It just gives people another avenue to have health care.”

   CNN Money

Can't afford health care? Barter for it

NEW YORK ( -- A few entrepreneurs are exploring a novel solution to the problem of finding affordable health care for themselves and their staff: Swap for it.

Bob Viking, who owns a party supply store and event entertainment company in Portage, Wisc., hasn't had to pay cash for office computers or services like remodeling in seven years. Instead, he barters for them, using a system he's now exploring for health care as well. Viking paid for his own dental surgery with barter "cash," and he recently met with a service that barters dental, eye care and emergency health coverage to discuss building an employee benefit plan.