Grants Pass plumber Robert Allen installs a sink Friday for James Carpenter. - Bob Pennell

Benefits of Bartering

Theresa Martin needed a television but was low on cash, so she bartered for one by baking a blackberry cobbler and a pumpkin pie.

"People don't have a lot of cash," the 30-year-old Medford woman said. "Bartering is a good way to get back to the way it used to be, and I like it."

Bartering is taking off in Jackson County, helping local residents pay the bills. Even struggling business owners barter as a way to help residents who can't pay for services, and to get name recognition.

Exchanging goods and services is handled through word-of-mouth and the Internet. In some cases, bartering just seems to snowball as more and more people find out about services available.

Robert Allen is a plumber, and many of his clients have fallen on hard times.

He's bartered for repairs to his van, and on Friday he bartered for a tattoo in exchange for installation of a sink.

"It's a way to help people when they're in a bind," said the 44-year-old Grants Pass resident and owner of Robert Allen Plumbing. "I've traded for guns, a safe, hunting rights and somebody gave me a chicken once."

The first time he bartered was with a woman who offered her kitchen table because she couldn't pay for plumbing work. He's heard of dentists and other professional people bartering as a way to generate more business and to stay busy.

Occasionally, he's a little skeptical of the offers he's received, because he doesn't want to receive stolen goods. He said it gave him pause when one man recently said he would trade his car in exchange for a kitchen remodel.

By and large, he said the people he's dealt with seem legitimately to be struggling, offering up whatever they've obtained over the years.

"Generally, the people who want to barter are good people," he said. "It's tough out there. You've got to do whatever you can to survive."

Lawson's tattoo artist, James Carpenter, has been bartering to help remodel his west Medford house.

"When the economy goes down, bartering returns as a way for people to make do," said the 43-year-old Medford resident, who owns A Body Mod on Jackson Street.

If only Carpenter had heard aboutthe woman who made the pies.

"I just bartered a TV off last night," he said.

Tim George, Medford deputy police chief, said he hasn't noticed any uptick in crimes associated with bartering.

He said there have been a few complaints after a trade where the goods were broken or had some other problem.

"It's no different than people going to garage sales or flea markets," he said. "It's buyer beware like anything else."

The Internet and specific websites are helping fuel a local economy based on the exchange of goods or services, he said.

"Bartering is on the increase," George said. "It's another symptom of tough economic times. It's a way to get the things you need."

Martin, the pie lady, said she recently moved from Oklahoma, bringing with her a lot of the raw materials needed to make pies.

She's got a part-time job at a local retailer, but didn't make enough to buy a used TV.

She admits to having a sweet tooth, and loves to cook, particularly bake.

Since she needed a TV, she decided to offer her pie-making abilities on the Internet.

The television she received is about 27 inches, and is the old tube type, not the newer flat screen.

Traveling with pies fresh out of the oven can be messy, though, even if the reward is a TV.

"I learned a lesson," said the 30-year-old Medford woman, who drove the pastries over to pick up the TV about five minutes from her house. "If it's warm, don't travel with it because you'll wear it."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail

Share This Story