Larry England, the owner of four local Cartridge World stores, once bartered a country ham in return for chiropractic services, back when he used to do some part-time farming in his native Claiborne County.
That seems “so 20th-century” to England now that he’s a five-year client of “Tradebank,” an indirect bartering service with more than 270 member businesses in its Tri-Cities franchise.
Indirect barter, which allows members to sell on trade to one member but purchase from a different one, may have saved a local job, or even a handful of them, during the recession. Local Tradebank franchise owner Mark Willis is pretty sure the practice might even have saved a small business.
The exchange of goods or services without using money probably goes back beyond the Stone Age, but barter has entered a new era with services like Tradebank.
“We are barter on steroids,” says Willis, whose franchise is one of more than 50 nationwide. “We take the negatives of bartering and we refine it.”
His clients earn trade dollars by selling their goods and services in exchange for other members’ trade dollars (all with plastic Tradebank debit cards). Because the system is an indirect one, though, they can spend those trade dollars at any participating business, even outside the Tri-Cities trade area. Willis has two brokers, one recently hired, whose sole job it is to find what clients are looking for within the network…….