Bartering is “the action or system of exchanging goods or services without using money,” according to Webster, and long before there was a currency system, bartering was the chief form of commerce for exchanging goods and services.
While people still barter, most financial transactions are done by currencies established by government and more recently, cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.
However, many area businesses use bartering as part of their commerce.
Debbie Lombardi, of Southington, is founder and president of a Bristol-based business, Barter Business Unlimited, which she started in 2008. Lombardi works with her sister Lisa Mullen and her daughter Heather, who are also co-owners of the company. Their 12 employees are headquartered in the former Boys & Girls Club Family Center, 105 Laurel St., in Bristol, across from City Hall.
Lombardi says her business is not as simplistic as one-on-one bartering but operates with a pool of different businesses and individuals. This makes the bartering more straightforward, with products and services that are valued based on U.S. currency. That means one U.S. dollar equals one trade dollar. The system is not a cryptocurrency, and complies with legal mandates by providing 1099 B reporting of all barter transactions. Because of that exchange, transactions between members are not anonymous.
Several local businesses participate and various types of services use Barter Business Unlimited. These range from advertising/media, contractor/maintenance to entertainment and travel as well as medical services. Two thousand businesses in Connecticut as well as Massachusetts are in the network, using bartering, in part, for their services and goods.
Jack Banks, co-owner of workout facilities Malibu Fitness in Farmington and Powerhouse Gym in Berlin, has used the service many times. “Barter Business Unlimited has been a great resource for us,” he said. “Response times are great and the quality of the businesses are outstanding.”
Several Southington restaurants are members, such as Kenzie Kakes, Los Mariachis, Pepper Pot Restaurant and Hen House Bar-BQ. Ragged Mountain Hospital in Plainville, as well as Lucinda’s Hair Salon and Horizon Personal Training in Cheshire also use the barter system.
“When a business makes a sale, trade dollars are deposited into their account,” Lombardi explained. “Purchases are paid with the earned trade dollars. We issue monthly statements and provide a web portal with a full marketplace for members to spend their trade dollars, as well as a convenient phone application. This model removes the frustration of one-on-one bartering, saves time and is very effective. Bartering does not have a stored value and are not securities and we do not take possession of money for transmission of barter trade credits. No cryptography methodologies are present in barter trade credits. We are a third party record-keeper of bartering transactions.”
“Businesses are usually very surprised that they are able to use trade dollars for dental work, daycare, vacations, boats and even hair transplants,” Lombardi said, adding that both travel and vacation opportunities, internationally as well as in Connecticut and throughout New England, are possibilities. “Many investors will offer their unsold vacation rental weeks to Cape Cod, Vermont and on the Connecticut shoreline.”
To get started, participants pay a one-time membership allowance followed by low monthly maintenance and transaction fees, which help pay for the administration of the service.
Many companies have found the bartering system helpful and Lombardi declares that there have been many successes with it. She boasts about how several restaurant owners have used trade dollars to open multiple locations. She also had a limousine provider who was able to make sales with his excess limousine time, and with the barter dollars, purchased a new Cadillac.
Lombardi described a situation where a developer ran out of money to complete his project. “We were able to connect him with a buyer for a building lot. With the trade dollars he earned from that sale he was able to finish his current projects, opening up his cash flow. The project value was over $300,000 and included site work, landscaping, electricians, plumbing, kitchens and painting.”
For more information about Barter Business Unlimited, call 860-583-BBU1 (2281), 877-228-2765 or visit www.bbubarter.com.