Members of a local bartering club say they use the business-to-business club to reach new clients and splurge on themselves without feeling guilty.
Jack Piserchia, owner and broker of J&M Realty in Rio Rancho, said he even uses his “barter bucks” to hire plumbers, electricians and landscapers to work on his rental properties.
And while some club members hoard their barter bucks to build their accounts for vacation getaways, Piserchia said he does just the opposite. “I spend them; they don’t go stale,” he said.
The practice of bartering replaces a cash payment with another form of compensation, such as goods or services. Barter clubs are created in communities to allow people a network for bartering.
For the Southwest Barter Club, which is located in Albuquerque and has a significant proportion of its membership based in Rio Rancho, the barters focus on businesses connecting to other businesses and uses the currency called “barter bucks.”
Shirley Schaan, the founder and owner of the Southwest Barter Club, said people pay to become a member and are issued the barter bucks according to how much they pay for initial memberships. The money is used to maintain the club’s website, host networking events and administer the club.
The club will host “Barter in the Park” in Haynes Park from 1 to 5 p.m. on June 17. It’s open to anyone who is interested in finding out more information, and members will have booths and sell their goods and services with cash as well as barter bucks. Members are being encouraged to recruit new club members and receive barter bucks for signing up a new member.
Piserchia said that’s how he’s been able to get most of his bucks.
Like many members, he paid $150 to join and received a similar amount of barter bucks. He then went to the company’s barter mall store on its website, SouthwestBarterClub.com, to find ways to spend his money. What he’s discovered is a whole new network of clients he didn’t know existed.
“It’s money well spent because you get customers you’ve never had before,” he said.
Piserchia, a virtual barter evangelist, said he is even willing to barter his sales commission for a home sale in his J&M Realty business.
When Piserchia spends his barter bucks, it’s documented on his personal account, and he gets a monthly statement of his revenue and expenses from the club, much like a bank account. Lest you think members are using the system to skirt paying taxes, part of the accounting program provides the necessary 1099 D forms for members to pay taxes.
Schaan said the IRS considers barter bucks as normal revenue and members must pay taxes for income generated through the club. S.U. Mahesh, a spokesman for the state Taxation and Revenue Department, said he’s never heard of problems with barter club members paying their taxes.
How it started
Schaan moved here from Tennessee to be near her son’s family. She found it difficult to rebuild her emotional healing business in a new community where she didn’t have clients. To try to get referrals, Schaan said she started looking at finding a way to barter alternative health care such as massage therapists, chiropractors, astrologists and acupuncturists.
During that discovery period, she found that a barter system network had already been created nationwide that allowed people who were members to be able to spend their barter bucks across the country. By purchasing DoBarter online software, it allows Southwest Barter Club members to access 200 similar trade exchanges that boast 50,000 members bartering $20 million a month.
The software helps track each person’s account and allows them to spend their barter bucks throughout the country. But most members spend it locally.
Traveling with barter bucks
September Tedesco, a local member who is a massage therapist, said she just got back from Las Vegas where she used her barter bucks for a two-bedroom condo that was immaculate. More importantly, she said the network allows her to meet new people and get clients who otherwise might not normally spend cash on something like a massage for themselves.
“It seems like there are more people (in the club) who are willing to give themselves something that would normally feel like a splurge,” Tedesco said.
Besides the Las Vegas trip, she has used her bucks for dog grooming and a pizza party. And, her husband uses the club to barter chiropractic care at Straight Chiropractic in Rio Rancho.
Schaan said in a down economy, people are less likely to spend money on personal luxuries. Through bartering, they don’t feel as guilty about spending the money because they are trading services within the network and not taking money out of the family checkbook.
To find out more information on Southwest Barter Club, go to the website, call Schaan at 715-2889 or attend the Barter in the Park on June 17.