A Most Excellent Swap

IMG_20160509_162719003   Ray's Afghan

IMG_20160320_093340395   IMG_20160320_093354064-2   IMG_20160320_093431136   IMG_20160320_093413973

My wife, Kathleen, has spent much of her spare time the past few years crocheting and knitting. Mostly crocheting, though. She’s made washcloths and place mats; hats, shawls, and ponchos (both adult and kid sizes); afghans and bed coverings (she chooses not to call them bed spreads). And no telling what else.

I couldn’t count the number of baby blankets she’s made as gifts for family and friends. She made a little girl’s dress for one of our church staff member’s daughters. She made an afghan as a wedding present for some very special friends and another as a housewarming gift. On and on the list goes.

She made two vests and a beautiful heavy wool sweater for me, and she’s making another one now. I’m not sure it’ll be finished before cold weather finally yields to warmer weather, but I’m looking forward to it.

Sometimes Kathleen makes something just for the fun of making it, and if someone sees a picture of it and wants to buy it, she sells it. She periodically accepts a request to work her magic for pay. Her products might sound expensive–the bigger products are worth anywhere from $200-400 and possibly more–but that’s at an hourly rate of only $4.00 plus the cost of materials. No wonder the kind of afghan I used to take for granted might average $175-200.

Ray Melton is a member of our church, and he is a woodworking wonder. I’m not at all sure what’s involved in the projects he creates, but I can tell you that a set of salt and pepper grinders–in this case they’re just a fraction of an inch under a foot in height–has the same value as Kathleen’s afghans.

Kathleen had been wanting a set of Ray’s salt and pepper grinders for ages, but that didn’t fit in the family budget. Not even the birthday or Christmas budget.

But it turned out that Ray had been admiring Kathleen’s work on Facebook. I don’t know which of them made the original suggestion, but Ray agreed to make a salt and pepper grinder set especially for Kathleen in exchange for an afghan she would make to his specifications. One request was to have “Ray’s” put on it in big enough letters that no one else in his family would dare to use it.

Isn’t that kind of bartering a great way for two people to get what they want with each person paying only for the materials used?

One Sunday morning recently when both projects were complete, Ray and Kathleen took the finished products to church and made the exchange in our Sunday school classroom. The top row of pictures are of the completed works. The second row are of the exchange being made.

Have you ever bartered with someone for something–maybe something you couldn’t afford otherwise? How about leaving a comment?


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Best regards,

2 thoughts on “A Most Excellent Swap

  1. How nice is that! I want one of each!
    I do some bartering in my present business. Not much. But in my previous incarnation as an american entreprenuer I did quite a bit of trading in my window cleaning business.
    We had a deal with Marriott Hotels in Bermuda. They would pay us an exhorbitant amounts of money plus give us two weeks of hotel and food as part of the pay. We had access to 3 rooms per visit, two visits a year.
    We also had a deal with Specialty Restaurants, Inc. They are a high end food outlet that I think may have gone mostly out of business. But in it’s heyday we did quite a few of their restaurants such as Shanghai Reds, Air Transport Command, The Moshulu etc. They also paid high wages plus coughed up meal tickets (from 2 to 4) per service, 2 services a month. We got sick of lobster and filet migñon! We started giving them away to friends as gifts.
    Many times we made deals with hotels where we wanted to go on vacation to clean some difficult high-rise stuff for money plus rooms. My brother still makes deals with quite a few hotels in the Ocean City, Md area.
    You’d be surprised how much a business would prefer to give away product for a service. Especially if it’s a hotel room that may go vacant anyway, it’s a win-win situation.
    I love to barter—


  2. Tom, what a wonderfully entertaining and informative comment. I’m not the least surprised that you’re a professional barterer. It just fits in with my view of you as a successful businessman. Not sure what you could barter with Kathleen and Ray for their products, though. *G*


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