There are two associations through which you can find a local barter system. (Also check the Yellow Pages under "Barter.") The International Reciprocal Trade Association (http://www.irta.net, 312-461-0236) represents 130 organizations, including those with offices in multiple cities and countries. The National Association of Trade Exchanges (http://www.nate.org, 216-732-7171) has 80 member organizations with single-city offices in North America.
Before you join an exchange, read its rules carefully and survey half a dozen members you might want to use from its catalog to see how satisfied they are. No system is perfect, so expect some complaints about lack of available items or incoming trade. (Being aggressive in marketing your business to other members definitely makes a difference, barter enthusiasts note.) Be sure to ask:
- Do trade brokers put in an effort to make matches in a timely manner?
- How many members have notified the exchange they have taken in too much barter to accept any more at the moment? Make sure the businesses you're interested in aren't temporarily out of the system.
- What kinds of businesses are allowed to take in a percentage of a transaction in cash because of low profit margins?
- Does the system expel members who inflate prices for barter?
- How many competitors are near you?
- How often is the catalog published? Not everyone will notice a mention in a newsletter that you've joined.
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