Earlier this year the 17 year old daughter of a younger friend asked me if I had any "old, really old like from the seventies" cocktail dresses. Her school was having a "way back then" theme dance and she assured me "the seventies are in". I did have a couple of dresses from that era stashed in my closet; an off the rack Albert Nippon and a Clovis Ruffin (anyone remember that designer?). She was thrilled and I was left wondering what it was like to fit into a size six – those days are "old, really old". Point here being that nothing ever goes totally out of style, not even Elvis’s high collared white sequined jackets and Tom Jones.
Back in style because of economic necessity, creativity, thrift and common sense is a concept rooted in history - bartering is back big time. A quick Google search will bring up dozens of web sites dedicated to the art. With the above teenager I bartered the loan of my dresses for picking up my mail while I’m out of town.
Over the past few years I’ve engaged in an increasingly popular form of barter – house swapping. I’ve had vacations in wonderful places and strangers have had the use of my house. (Follow the guidelines we set out in Connections for Women before embarking on this – or sign up with us or another established house swap agency). I’ve traded use of my cabin in return for essential repairs to skilled trades people; I’ve traded editing skills for garden produce. When I had a very large house with spectacular gardens, I offered the use of my garden for a wedding and in return, the husband an artist, gave me a beautiful outdoor bronze. Most recently, my daughter who is an attorney had a client in a poor cash flow situation; he owns a tile shop. She had two bathrooms that needed re-tiling, a deal was struck and he provided the tile.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see where barter can fit into your life. Think of a skill or treasure you have that someone else may love. My hair stylist traded a haircut for calligraphy from a client; an accountant friend helped his handyman with a tax form and earned an overhaul of his irrigation system. Cash free societies used to thrive and barter created a healthy, mutually supportive, living environment.
We’d love to hear from any of you who have set up successful bartering deals and better yet, use our Bulletin Board to advertise your skills and what you are looking for in return. Right now I have a beautiful pedestal sink looking for a new home and, in the light of my last blog, I’m wondering if anyone has granddaughters they’d like to swap out for grandsons on this rainy “there’s nothing to do” afternoon!
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