Good old fashion commerce in Ballard

Sustainable Ballard is hosting a barter fair

Remember trading your candy for a toy with your friends or siblings? Trading was so easy. Luckily, exchanges like that still happen, only with much bigger things.

In support of the holidays and the Think Green Reuse and Recycling Challenge, Sustainable Ballard is hosting their 8th annual non-profit community holiday barter and celebration at Ballard Odd Fellows Hall on Sunday, December 8 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

President of Sustainable Ballard and festival coordinator, Jenny Heins, said the event brings together the community, encourages creativity and sharing, and creates a social and enjoyable alternative to the more commercial holiday gift buying experience.

In past years, barter items have included hand-knitted products, jewelry, candles, homegrown or wild crafted produce, homemade jams, beer, truffles, dried fruit, granola, beer and other delectable goodies. Apart from actual tangible goods, participants have also offered services, such as dog walking, music lessons, tax assistance, yoga session, housesitting or even refrigerator cleaning.

Heins said that because it’s holiday barter, the handmade or grown things participants should bring should be more gift-able items, rather than services. However, coupons or vouchers for your services are a great way to do it.

“You really do not have to be skilled in any one thing. There are lots of services people can offer. … People show up offering to mow your lawn. …However, they need to be able to monetize the service they are offering,” said Heins

Heins explained that in the past the barter event was limited to Sustainable Ballard members, but this year they are opening up to the community. It is also acting as their holiday party. The event has drawn 50 to 100 people, however they are expecting many more this year.

“Just show up with your stuff. … It’s always interesting to see what fun stuff people bring. The trick is to know what your stuff is worth in dollars,’ said Heins

So how does it work?

“It’s a lot more meaningful and people have a chance to meet when it’s less formal,” said Heins.

Participants arrive and find a place at a table. They get situated and lay out their goods. If they are offering services they need not find a table and can get a jump on perusing the floor. As soon as everyone is set up, they move about the room and ask questions or just chat with their neighbors. If you find something you like you simply ask if they want to trade. Simple, right?

“The hardest part is finding someone who wants what you have and that you also want what they are offering,” said Heins

“For me I like to make a whole lot of one thing but its not the right gift for everyone,” said Heins.

The holiday party has a goal of promoting local businesses to the community so they learn what local businesses have or what they can offer. Heins said there will be a raffle at the party for a gift basket full of products and service vouchers that have been donated by local businesses, such as Hales Ales, Sunergy, Blue Valley Meats , Ballard Station Public House, Cupcake Royal and Seattle Biscuit Company.

The raffle will help pay for some of their projects like the Edible Garden Tour, Free Letters Home, Ballard Sustainable Festival and Market Gleaning.

Heins explained that the barter event is also a way to satisfy the Green Recycling Challenge.

Waste Management has a program that is rewarding neighborhoods for reducing their net ton of garbage compared to recent years. They reward neighborhoods groups for educating their citizens on how to be more efficient in recycling and energy usage.

Neighborhoods that excel in this are rewarded two thousand dollars every month. At the end of the year there is a 10 thousand dollar pot that is divided up between winning neighborhoods. Last year Sustainable Ballard tied with two other neighborhoods for Overall Outreach and the three divided up the money.

To spread the word, Sustainable Ballard hosted a clothing and household cleaning supplies swap, posted green tips on the website and Facebook and made pamphlets.

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