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Bartering

 
master steward
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This thread is inspired by a comment made by Ed Norton that he is rubbish at bartering because he likes to please people too much.   I find myself in the same position.  I would rather give something away than sell it. On the flip side, I am hopeless at haggling for a lower price.  I will either pay the full amount or walk away.  

So, to those Permies who are better at negotiations than I am.  What tips do you have?
 
steward
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We have done a few barters from Craigs' List.

This was mainly because we no longer needed or wanted the item and someone had an ad that they wanted one.

To me, it takes some skill and also time and energy that I am not interested in putting forth.

Most folks I have met are more interested in money then goods or services.

 
pollinator
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I can't really explain how to barter, just that I do enjoy doing it sometimes. Near where I live something called the National Muzzle Loading Rifles Association has a twice-yearly shooting competition. It's big doings with lots of flea markets, primitive crafts and stuff.

I like to take a single item, an Indian artifact, an old knife, or maybe a hickory hiking stick that I made. I find someone who will trade my item for something I think is worth more. Then I take that item and trade it for something else. Toward the end of my best day ever and starting with a cool fossil, I ended up with an old gun. It must have been a good one because before leaving, I traded it for five US silver dollars and an 18k gold ring, set with small emeralds. I was pretending to waffle on accepting the coins and the fellow offered to throw the ring into the deal.

Maybe that gun was worth a lot of money, I hope so, but I thought five silver dollars and an 18k gold ring with real emeralds was a pretty good trade for a rock I found in the creek.
 
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I buy, sell and trade all the time. Recently I swapped a pistol for a classic car, I responded to an ad in the local paper that read something like: "1971 blah blah blah, $950 or trade for anything that doesn't eat." So I swapped him a $600 pistol for the car.

Swapping isn't necessarily about monetary value, its about what each of the participants value the other persons item at. He valued the pistol more than the car, I didn't have the cash to spend on the car, but I did have an extra pistol. The cash value didn't matter at all.

Haggling is sort of the same, when I get to bargaining for something I have an idea of what the top dollar I would pay for that item is. Also you can make observations about the item in question, not insults. Such as "I'm gonna have to replace the tires", or "this things a little rusty", but I am always careful to keep from insulting the seller.

I like to offer less than I actually want to pay and let the seller work me back up to my price, but with that you need to be a bit more careful because if you go to low on the offer they might look at it as "low-balling" or an insult.

Have fun, and remember the easiest bargain to make is for items you don't need. Because you can walk away, that's a strong bargaining tool as well.
 
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When I was young, I found barter really exciting. I'm much less enchanted now by trying to take advantage of people and also don't like being taken advantage of. I mostly just give stuff away and I think it would be neat if a lot more of that happened.
 
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I have done quite a bit of bartering in my time.. but regardless of barter of cash transaction, I like to practice reverse bargaining. I like to pay MORE than the asking price. I also tend to overtip, sometimes quite a bit. Realize, of course, that these are transactions that I value, with people that I feel are deserving (not Walmart). It is a small price to pay for the good feelings that result, but more importantly.. it reverses the black magic built into our money scheme that encourages selfishness and scarcity. I will never have “enough” money, because “enough” is always just a little more than you currently have. I make do with what I’ve got, and keep on trucking!
 
steward
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My favorite barter was getting a house call from a licensed official doctor and he did a little procedure on me in exchange for maple syrup and a couple nice squash.  This was in 2018 so I think it might have been the last doctor house call in the United States...

I find barters easy when someone is going to do work for me and I can substitute a similarly valued product for the money they'd normally get.  In these cases, no one is getting taken advantage of, the service and the items have a value that we both can understand.
 
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I dislike haggling, it makes meuncomfortable. I'd rather people just put the price they want for things. When sales people suddenly find they can do you a good deal on a subscription when you say you are cancelling it makes me upset. I suspect it is partly a cultural thing.
As regards bartering, that's slightly different. I tend to look at it as if all time is just now. I'll give stuff away. Maybe in the future the people I gave it to will remember that I wanted something when they no longer need it and offer it to me. Or since kindness spreads perhaps they'll pass something to someone else in need.
At the moment I have given someone some seasalt we had surplus because it didn't suit our zero waste section in the shop. I have to admit I'm hoping that she will have a spare sausage when she's finished processing her pig, but maybe it will be a gooseberry cutting, or nothing. It's all fine, I've gained the container the salt was stored in and lost a worry that it would get spoiled.
 
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Ted Abbey wrote:...I like to pay MORE than the asking price....



I have a whole bunch of stuff I want to sell you
 
steward & bricolagier
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Ted Abbey wrote:I have done quite a bit of bartering in my time.. but regardless of barter of cash transaction, I like to practice reverse bargaining. I like to pay MORE than the asking price.


I try to do that when I can. If someone is having a yard sale and I see an item I'll happily pay 10.00 for that's marked 5.00, I'll tell them "I absolutely refuse to pay you less than 10.00 for this!" It puzzles them at first.  I can't afford to do that as much as I want to but I overpay and overtip when I can. I've waited tables, it sucks ROCKS, I overtip whenever I can.
 
pollinator
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Nancy Reading wrote: As regards bartering, that's slightly different. I tend to look at it as if all time is just now. I'll give stuff away. Maybe in the future the people I gave it to will remember that I wanted something when they no longer need it and offer it to me. Or since kindness spreads perhaps they'll pass something to someone else in need.
At the moment I have given someone some seasalt we had surplus because it didn't suit our zero waste section in the shop. I have to admit I'm hoping that she will have a spare sausage when she's finished processing her pig, but maybe it will be a gooseberry cutting, or nothing. It's all fine, I've gained the container the salt was stored in and lost a worry that it would get spoiled.


Yeah, that's it exactly! I like to think of this state of affairs as "voluntary economy" (no idea if that's the correct term at all, it's just what I call it in my head.)

I have this (perhaps optimistic) idea that if the general level of trust between people could be increased past a certain threshold, both monetary economy and barter would become unnecessary. If, in the best of worlds, I had or found something that I didn't have an immediate need of, and if I knew someone who did, I'd give it to them. No demand for immediate compensation would be required, even with something of great utility or "value", because (in the best of worlds) everyone would have this same level of trust. Everyone would know that everyone else had their back, and that someone would be willing to give you what you needed when you needed it. (I'm talking about real need here, not "oh, I really feel like I need an outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool heated to 25 C in January")
 
master pollinator
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Bargaining is a game. It doesn't have to be cutthroat -- it can be friendly and pleasant, to the mutual advantage of both parties.

When I look at an item at a store or a yard sale, I generally have an idea of how much it is worth to me. In other words, what constitutes a "good deal." I won't pay much more than that.

Usually, yard sale items are priced way too high. Too many sellers have a crazy idea about what used things are worth -- things they want to get rid of anyway. That makes it hard to make a fair offer (25% of asking) without insulting people. If the price is in the ballpark but a little high, it's fair to make an offer (60% of asking).

It's always good strategy to bundle yard sale items together and make a cash offer for the pile. Remember, they want the stuff gone and will usually round down when they see a nice crisp $20 bill.
 
Ted Abbey
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Ted Abbey wrote:...I like to pay MORE than the asking price....



I have a whole bunch of stuff I want to sell you



I laughed..
 
Ted Abbey
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Pearl Sutton wrote:

Ted Abbey wrote:I have done quite a bit of bartering in my time.. but regardless of barter of cash transaction, I like to practice reverse bargaining. I like to pay MORE than the asking price.


I try to do that when I can. If someone is having a yard sale and I see an item I'll happily pay 10.00 for that's marked 5.00, I'll tell them "I absolutely refuse to pay you less than 10.00 for this!" It puzzles them at first.  I can't afford to do that as much as I want to but I overpay and overtip when I can. I've waited tables, it sucks ROCKS, I overtip whenever I can.



Same! Most people are momentarily confused, but I feel the good karma and good feelings it brings to both parties is priceless in comparison to the dollars involved..
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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If the item is worth a lot more than the asking price, I will say so and offer more. Occasionally people don't realize what they have.
 
John F Dean
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There have been a couple of times in my life when I felt I had to ethically warn the seller.  One that stands out was when a lady tried to sell me a .300 Winchester Magnum.    It was clearly a Weatherby.   I told her the rifle was worth more than she thought.  She stuck to the original asking price.

From her perspective, it made sense.   The rifle was worthless to her. She needed money now. The price for the Weatherby would have taken me out of the market, and I was the only perspective buyer she had seen.  
 
Rusticator
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Ted Abbey wrote:

Pearl Sutton wrote:

Ted Abbey wrote:I have done quite a bit of bartering in my time.. but regardless of barter of cash transaction, I like to practice reverse bargaining. I like to pay MORE than the asking price.


I try to do that when I can. If someone is having a yard sale and I see an item I'll happily pay 10.00 for that's marked 5.00, I'll tell them "I absolutely refuse to pay you less than 10.00 for this!" It puzzles them at first.  I can't afford to do that as much as I want to but I overpay and overtip when I can. I've waited tables, it sucks ROCKS, I overtip whenever I can.



Same! Most people are momentarily confused, but I feel the good karma and good feelings it brings to both parties is priceless in comparison to the dollars involved..



I do this, often. It may not be much more than the asking price, or it may be as much as several times the asking price, in situ. But, I tend to overvalue other's work/ workmanship, and undervalue my own - only *one* of the reasons I don't sell my soaps, salves, and such. Bartering is so much easier than buying or selling. If I have and don't need something, and someone else needs and doesn't have it, I'll give it. And, I'm happy to receive on the same basis. With that thought in mind, simply swapping items or services becomes second nature. All that said, I also have no trouble walking away from something, no matter how much I want or need it, if the vibe is off, or their asking price is ridiculously high.
 
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I recently heard a theory about prehistoric resource distribution.
The theory is that gifting was the prevalent method of spreading around surplus.
Tipping high, over paying, sharing seasalt, even being honest about the the market value of an item, these all reflect this kind of reality.
Rather than accepting dog eat dog as the true reality each of these is an affirmation of a different way.
My way is to do plumbing, for love , not for money.
I have saved my friends and family thousands of dollars, and they have saved me more ways than I count.
Even my cousin that is a flim flam artist cannot take advantage of me, because I'm giving freely of my labor with no expectations.
 
master steward
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William Bronson wrote:I recently heard a theory about prehistoric resource distribution.
The theory is that gifting was the prevalent method of spreading around surplus.

The book "Braiding Sweetgrass" talks about that. My upbringing was so different from that attitude, that I find it hard with some things. However, as I've gotten older, there's so little that I feel I *need*, that it's become much easier. That said, I'm better about gifting my time for things I believe in - like mending a friend's pants so they get more use out of them or gifting plants/cuttings/knowledge.

For buying at places like garage sales, I'm willing to barter, but mostly it's because I offer what it's worth to me. I've been burned too often from the other direction by things that looked in good shape but had hidden problems. Sometimes I've been wrong, but generally if I trust my little voice and be willing to walk away, I do alright.
 
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I am physiologically incapable of haggling I think.
But it seems like a good practice that can be enjoyable for both parties, and increasing/strengthening social ties.

It seems the norm now is tending toward anonymous, faceless purchases online... that do not strengthen local resilience.

Regarding the "gift economy" idea.
When I attended the Rainbow Gatherings a few times, that's the way they work (in theory).  No money exchanges- only bartering and gifting.
Of course there were "Drainbows" who did not contribute supplies or labor much.  Things mostly seemed to work out and thousands of people were well fed for several weeks.
Probably there was/is a lot of big donations from a few participants or benefactors that make it work.

I have read somewhere that in various indigenous cultures many of the "Chiefs" or "Big Men"  were those who could give away the most, share the most.
Contrasted with modern Big Men who hoard wealth and are praised for it.  

This got a little rambly, so I'll stop.
 
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