Bartering great for holiday shopping and growing a business

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PHOENIX -- When you load up on holiday gifts, chances are you pay with cash or pull out the credit card. But a number of Arizonans have a different kind of buying power, one that hearkens back to a different age.

Julie Moreno's kitchen is always busy, filled with the sweet smells of cookies, rolls and lots of cupcakes.

“It's a big kitchen,” Moreno said. “But not big enough anymore.”

Her business, Jewel's Cupcakes, is taking off with her special mixture of gluten-free flour. But not all her sales are in cash. She joined The Barter Group to find companies that will trade services for her baked goods.

“My sales are over $2,000 with just The Barter Group,” Moreno said. “That's going to get me work on my website, tons of marketing materials. I need signs and banners that I need for the different events that I do.”

There's plenty of bartering going on between people, of course, mostly through the Internet, but you don't always make out that well. In this case, all this stuff in here is brand new and the sales are business to business.

“No it's not a garage sale,” Lori Baker said. “Not a swap meet, there's no used inventory, there's no price gouging.”

Baker is The Barter Group's director. Right now the small office is filled with jewelry, clothes and other things that make great Christmas gifts. But the inventory changes with the season and part of the job is connecting businesses that can help each other.

“Barter is networking so we are going to introduce to our members customers they would never ever get,” Baker said.

So far for Moreno, working for trade is looking like a sweet deal.

“I can use my money to buy gifts for my family and I'm getting it at the fraction of my cost,” Moreno said.
 
Baker said the recession didn't lead so much to a drop in business for her. She said it changed what people traded. She said it isn't usually luxury items anymore, but services and products that help grow a business.