Featured image barter

A more balanced sheet

In Kaka‘ako, a fresh experiment in non-cash economics

Jolyn Okimoto Rosa

Do you have something to trade? Or do you want something or some service? Maybe both? You might consider checking out Fresh Café in Kaka‘ako. Every third Thursday of the month, the venue at 831 Queen St. hosts Barter Bar, from 7 to 10 p.m.

“Bartering can be a lot of fun and produce some great trades,” says John E. Butler, professor of management at the Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Butler is also Harold and Sandy Noborikawa Chair of Entrepreneurship and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the college.

Swap meets and more recently, Internet swap websites, have provided the means for millions of people to get involved in bartering and have a lot of fun in the process, Butler says. The Internal Revenue Service has even established procedures for reporting bartering revenue.

How It Works

At Barter Bar, a $2 cover charge gives you two “barter bucks,” which are papers on which you can post a “want” or “have.” You post the want slip (pink), or fill out a slip for something or a service you are offering (blue). The trading floor opens at 8 p.m.

Matt Lynch, one of Barter Bar’s four organizers describes the event as kind of like a silent auction, except that people are communicating via Instagram, phone and text.

Some also communicate the old-fashioned way.

“Some people take the bid sheets home and call and follow up,” Lynch says. That was the case with a newspaper looking for advertisers, he adds.

Lynch himself traded a box of neckties he no longer wore for some pre-cooked executive meals.

Deals are signed and done “on the honor system,” he adds.