Denise Meridith, Phoenix Business Insight Examiner
Date: December 6, 2015, 9:30 AM MST
The barter industry in Phoenix experienced a boost in popularity during the last recession. In search of new and different sources of income, people were introduced to this ancient concept of barter, which has become an organized, regulated financial institution. Tradespeople joined barter organizations to market their skills and products in return for other needed goods and services. Even though the traditional Phoenix economy has improved, if the recent Value Card Alliance 2015 Holiday Show is any indication, the trade industry in Phoenix is still going strong.
On November 21, 2015, Value Card members lined up at the Arizona Fair Grounds in Phoenix to be there when the doors opened at 9 AM. It was the biggest show for Value Card to-date, with over 300 booths, providing everything from candy to toys to appliances to jewelry to restaurant discount coupons.
The exhibitors were as excited as the customers. Anthony Tremonto, whose Studio ADT produces art, frames and mirrors, and Candice Eisenfeld, from Tempe, who sold gift baskets and artwork, have been loyal exhibitors for several years.
Newer and equally enthusiastic exhibitors included The Nerdfirm, which does web marketing and vehicle wraps; Shirts & Vinyl; and Sting ‘n’ Linger Salsa Company. David Pastoriza learned from last year, not to try to do printing onsite, and was a lot happier with taking a lot of orders for tee-shirts at this year’s show. Ken Smith sold the first jars of salsa out of his trunk twenty years ago. While he has since been successful selling his hot sauce and salsa in stores, like Sprouts and Fry’s, he found a new audience among the trade members the past two years.
On the other extreme is long-time Value Card member Easel Photography, a portrait and video service. Owner Candice Thornton loves working with Value Card. “But people should realize that you get back from trade from what you put into it,” she said. “It’s worthwhile, but it takes hard work.” This thought was shared by many of the Show regulars.
There are other trade groups in Phoenix. Tradesource, the original barter group in Arizona, has been in operation for decades. The Rosinksi family had their holiday show on December 5, 2015, in Mesa. As long as Phoenicians continue to subscribe to missions, like Tradesource’s “utilizing trade as a financial tool to build their businesses and enhance their lifestyles,” the barter industry will thrive in Arizona.