An old-school alternative
Trading Toledo brings back bartering
After being introduced to a friend of a friend who farmed their own fresh eggs, Douglas V. Lutman created a local group for people to barter. Want in on this old-school solution to the economic downturn? Search “Trading Toledo” on Facebook and start bartering!
The norm in today’s consumer environment is to frequently acquire products in their polished — and most expensive — form. But when need overcomes want, trading becomes a necessity. Douglas V. Lutman realized and embraced this necessity. “I’d been going through hard times, as had many of my friends,” Lutman said. “So I began bartering by cleaning people’s homes in exchange for dinner. [I began] making my own laundry detergent. I was introduced to a friend of a friend who farmed their own fresh eggs. From this I wanted to create a local group as a venue for people to barter.”
Lutman’s idea gave birth to the Facebook group Trading Toledo. It’s a platform for offering trades of goods and services in order to fill personal product or service needs of any sort. “We’re still in a terrible recession and everyone is cutting back. We want to alleviate the pressure any way we can,” Lutman said. After forming two months ago, the group has exploded with over 1,300 members. “People began trading immediately after the page went up,” said Krista Lough, a charter member. “We had so many people offering to trade, it was hard keeping track. Each person wanted to help one another. There aren’t, any ulterior motives involved,” says Lough.
An impressive variety
The list of goods and skills offered by members of Trading Toledo reads like a treasure chest. “I was able to [organize] the bulk of my daughter’s graduation [party] by trading possessions I wasn’t using and hadn’t used in a long time,” said Lough. “I traded for a game board and a foosball table from a lady in exchange for baking a pie a month for an entire year.”
“I had a friend say they are receiving an hour of free legal advice from a lawyer for volunteering to cut the man’s grass,” said Lutman. “People are becoming very creative in order to maintain a semblance of decent living,” said Lutman.
Using social media to promote community could easily negate the purpose; instead of physically building commitment, the technology can control the transactions. But, Trading Toledo is doing it right: using Facebook to set up trades while relying
on face-to-face contact to forge relationships.
“A lot of the people I’ve traded with — people who I would not have met otherwise — I now consider close friends,” said Lough.
“A woman stopped me at the Old West End Festival and said ‘I don’t think you know what you did. I don’t think you know how you changed my life,’” said Lutman. “These are real connections that people are making and I believe it’s slowly reinvigorating a true sense of community.”
Trading Toledo is continually evolving and plans to expand the operation to include what Lutman called a “once-a-week or once-a-month open venue” at a yet-to-be-determined downtown space. Support and funding are needed. Every citizen with a financial void or a cluttered mess in the basement should try their hand.