In today’s society we tend to obtain the things we need in rather traditional ways… “Will that be cash or charge?” However, if you started cloth diapering for financial reasons it’s good to remember that there is another option–bartering.
Bartering, often called trading, is where two or more parties swap or exchange items or services in their possession in order to obtain things that they need. Doing so can help you get the items that you need with little or no cash exchanged. The cloth diapering community is especially trading friendly. You’ll find groups all over the internet to swap or trade items. Take a few minutes to look over the IHA (I Have Available) or ISO (In Search Of) boards on this site and you’ll find that the movement to get what you need without exchanging cash is gaining momentum.
However, trading is an art form. Once you get a hold of it, you might realize that you can obtain the cloth diapers you need without blowing your budget! One of the most skilled traders on the site is expaik. I was able to speak with her to find out a few secrets for trading newbies….
Why did you start trading items online?
I find trading to work out much better than selling. The value of what I can get in a trade is typical 2x – 3x the value of the paypal I could get from selling.
What are some mistakes you made early on when you began trading online?
Oh man. This can get embarrassing. When I only had 13 swaps under my belt, I did a trade with another member, in which the package she sent me got torn open in transit and arrived missing quite a bit of its contents, because she sent it in a manila envelope. She also shipped 2 weeks after the agreed upon ship date. To make up for all these issues, she told me to pick some replacement items out of her Have list, and she’d send them. I didn’t see anything I needed but I saw things that I knew other people were looking for. So I PM-ed some of those mamas and offered to sell them a couple of this swapmate’s items. This got back to the swapmate who got completely upset (understandably, since I was selling items not in my possession). She messaged me saying “forget it, our transaction is over” and I was upset because I felt she still owed me for the missing stuff from her package. This problem got escalated to the moderators and eventually we did resolve it on our own (I basically apologized for breaking rules about selling things not in my possession and told her she didn’t have to make up for the missing things, and we later even worked out another 2 good trades.)
What are some common mistakes you notice that newbies make?
Mostly shipping mistakes. They don’t know how to ship, and pay way too much. Newbies don’t yet know what is worth what. Retail values often mean nothing. After a while, you get to know what items are valuable on forums, and how much you can demand. Some items fetch near retail while others have to be almost FFS to get sold or traded. It takes a while to learn the ropes with item values.Also, often since they are new, they are intimidated/bullied into trades that benefit the other party much more. A savvy eye for value, sharp questions, and standing up for what you feel is fair… these skills are acquired through months and years of trading experience and increased confidence.
What are you looking for in a trading partner? (Thus, what should others look for?)
I really really like fast swaps with good communicators. I cannot stand people who take over a day to respond when we have a pending swap, or who can’t be bothered to let me know if they’re running behind schedule on shipping. Generosity is great, but good communication and honesty is the main thing I’m looking for.
What are some good things to remember when posting items for trade?
I’ll take a detailed verbal description over photos any day. Describe size, brand, model, color, and condition right next to the item name – don’t wait for people to ask. Disclose any flaws as accurately as possible. I’m not a fan of labeling each item with trade values because they’re so subjective and relative. For example, if I’m trading for a moby with a TV of $35, obviously my own TV’s will be a lot more inflated than if the moby was listed at $15 TV.
Do you have any advice for people who want to either trade away, or trade to get, cloth diapers?
I’m not really a cloth diapering expert… But I see people listing super cheap diapers on FSOT all the time, so patient stalking will eventually get you a good deal. Or posting an ISO for what you want, with a max price you’re willing to pay, will almost always result in replies. There are so many mamas on DS willing to part with their stash for cheap.
Well, there you have it! With a bit of effort and patience you can snag great additions to your cloth diapering stash without feeling like you’ve blown your entire budget!
PS: Don’t hesitate to give expaik a hollar to see if you can start on the road to trading towards the things you need!