Bartering Networks Open Businesses to New Markets

Oakland-Based Trading Company Lets Members Exchange Products and Services Across Network

Photo: <b>Robin Moorad</b> is one of many business owners that participate in the BizXchange bartering service.
Shannon Hamilton/Photo
Robin Moorad is one of many business owners that participate in the BizXchange bartering service.

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Although Robin Moorad's new Pilates class is more expensive than she would normally like to pay, she is willing to take it because she bartered for it.

Moorad is the owner of Imago Associates, a small business in Berkeley that recycles commercial furniture. Her company is a member of BizXchange, an Oakland-based bartering company that acts as a middleman between different businesses, allowing them to swap services within the barter network.

Unlike a conventional barter system, which requires a direct exchange between parties, BizXchange offers "BizX dollars," which businesses can use to exchange for other products and services anywhere within the network.

"BizXchange allows companies to use the power of barter without necessarily finding a direct coincidence of wants," said Jason Richards, director of marketing for BizXchange.

The company also markets their members' services to increase their sales and improve their cash flow, according to Chris Haddawy, chief operating officer and co-founder.

"We can help bring new business ... and help them use their excess capacity to offset budget and cash expenses," he said. "We ... monetize it in the form of trade."

BizXchange has seen a 47 percent increase in trade transactions compared to last year, and Richards said that more companies want to join, seeking alternative revenue sources due to the troubled economy.

"We definitely have seen an increase in demand," Richards said. "We attribute the majority of that to the economy."

Moorad's main motivation for becoming a member of the barter network in 2004 was her company's lack of a physical location, since she works from her home.

"What BizXchange gives me is a retail presence ... and a niche of clients I would not normally have," she said. "I view it as a whole other revenue stream, which for small business today is not a bad thing."

Auto Options, located on San Pablo Avenue, has been a member of bartering networks since it opened in 1987, according to owner Bill Toms, including BizXchange's predecessors. But Toms said he especially values BizXchange because of its focus on the East Bay.

"It allows us to use time and capacity that's not being used ... to generate a source of income," Toms said. "It allows (us) to get a benefit for what would otherwise be idle time."

Although Toms says his trade transactions remain constant despite the economy, Moorad said she sees a link between the economic downtown and a subsequent increase in bartering activity.

"The calls I've gotten from within the network has really increased in the past year," she said. "I think we're all looking for additional income streams."


Contact Denise Poon at [email protected]

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