Preparedness Through Tapping in to the Craig’s List Culture: Doing Well by Doing Good, by D.S.

I do not consider myself an expert on However, I do cruise our local Craigslist several times a day as I am fascinated with what people are buying, looking for and selling. It helps me keep a pulse on our local economy that I don’t get through the Mainstream Media. To that point, I have noticed a strong uptick, since the New Year, of people selling anything of value that they can. This tells me people are really starting to hurt from this incipient Economic Depression.

On items I have an interest in I call or e-mail to enquire. Lately, the conversation has veered towards why folks are selling stuff. “I am getting rid of my ‘stuff’ as I don’t know what the economy is going to do.” “My husband lost his job.” “I have a small business but my clients are not paying me what they owe me.”

What has also started happening, at least from my perspective, is more and more folks want to barter goods than simply accept cash. 120 bales of horse hay sounds better to them than $1,200. Firewood has become huge as a barter item as has quality hay and, of course, firearms. Quality reliable cars for less than $2,000 are very desirable. Items like Sterling silver tea sets and Grandma’s china are falling fast.

I am not sure when I began doing this, but in the past few months I started offering folks alternatives to fiat money. ‘Would you prefer payment in firewood, Sir, or some other item, or is cash what you are looking for?’ I had no set protocol, I made it up as I went along, but pretty soon I started crystallizing some thoughts on bartering on Craigslist. Here they are:

1. Say what you can do and do what you say.
2. “No, thank you.” is a great response. Never be afraid to say “No” if the deal does not work for you.
3. Craigslist is not a community in the sense that one seller does not (often) hear directly from another on your reputation. But still, people can tell if you are honest or are looking to skin them. Act Honorably always.
4. Get clear on what your natural assets are that you have to trade. One of mine is firewood.
5. Timing can be everything – scan Craigslist frequently in your desired categories since you want to be (to use an old Army Cav expression) ‘the firstest with the mostest!’
6. When I see a particularly nice item in the ‘free’ category I often inquire if I might make a small charitable contribution to the charity of their choice as appreciation of their item. I do this for one primary reason – it is the right thing to do. It has had the ancillary benefit of having ‘jumped me to the front of the line’ on some items. I offered my desire to donate to a Craigslister for three free garage doors. He responded quickly that I was the only person to do so, and that it touched his heart. He even delivered the doors to our ranch (I can no longer drive as a Disabled Vet). I subsequently donated to the local food-bank.
7. Always say please and thank you. Honest and sincere appreciation is a scarce commodity today.
8. Never begrudge folks an honest profit. If someone makes great money from an item you swapped or sold – congratulate them!
9. I use Ronald Reagan’s motto: ‘Trust, but verify.’ I start off assuming I can trust folks. But I always verify that what they are telling me is so.
10. Have fun! As long as you are helping others get what they want, you’ll likely always get what you want. That is satisfying from a servant’s heart perspective, and you meet a lot of nice people (not all though) while you are building up your supplies and stores for your retreat.

The following are not a ‘bragging’ example. I hope you will simply see these as examples of what is possible:

Four weeks ago I found a Mercedes 300TD wagon for sale ($3,000) or trade. I enquired to see if it was still available, and to my happy surprise, it still was. The young man (a survivalist) was moving to Belize with his wife and young son and needed ‘camping gear.’ I asked what he really wanted and his reply was ‘a really good tent to live in while we build our house, and some nice backpacks.’ I have been a Boy Scout Leader for 20+ years and have way too much camping gear. I offered him a Golite backpack (acquired from Craigslist for $40 – originally retailed at $190) and a [US Army surplus] GP Medium Tent (like the tents one would see in the old television series MASH)
I paid nothing for the tent as I had bartered, through Craigslist, for two of these GP medium tents for allowing a fellow to come hunt Elk on our property. Very nice man, very generous, two amazing high quality canvas tents with all the poles. As an aside, he never came to hunt though I wish he had.

As I type this, I am waiting for a fellow (a Senior NCO recently returned from Iraq) to come over for three cords of firewood. He is giving us two barely-used Australian saddles and two snowmobiles. The snowmobiles may need a good cleaning and rebuild, but I have 30 acres of dense woods that need to be cut back for fire safety – I suspect I can find someone to help rebuild the snowmobiles in trade for firewood.

Bear in mind, please, that I don’t actually do the cutting of the firewood. My left arm is pretty weak from nerve damage and holding a chain-saw really hurts. So, again, I barter. If folks need wood I ask that they cut and split a cord for me and they, may then, cut a cord for themselves. Sadly, I used to offer firewood to folks if they’d come help me put some up. After they got their firewood I never saw them again. So, now, I get ‘paid’ up front.

I may be close to closing a deal, today, for a beautiful Savage shotgun that looks like a Browning A5. My cost? Giving the owner permission to come hunt on our property for Elk. We both get something we really want and would be tickled that the other loves what they get!

Reloading equipment ‘grab bag’ I had a gentleman over this past week looking at antiques I had in our basement that had simply been gathering dust. He mentioned, that right before he came over he had picked up a box of RCBS dies (new in the box) and three reloading presses. I swapped an antique table of my grandmother’s for the box of reloading gear. . After going through it I’ll have several dies I won’t use (.243 Winchester, 7mm Mauser, etc.) that I can trade for items I do want (clean brass, Nosler or Barnes bullets, etc). I met the man by looking through Craigslist collectibles to see who was selling items similar to what I had to sell.

Final example: A small herd of registered purebred Longhorn Cattle. A lady listed four Longhorns for $1,300 on Craigslist. She was willing, according to her listing, to barter for items other than cash. After talking with her on the phone I offered her any combination of hay, firewood, firearms,etc. The two cows are bred and expected to calve this spring around May. So, with items I have accumulated from others by bartering, and maybe $300 in cash, God willing, I will own six purebred Longhorns.
I have helped others heat their house, hunt for meat for their family, feed their livestock hay, and house their family while they build their home.
That is pretty cool! The satisfaction I receive from helping those folks is immense.

Here is a tally of what I have received (or am about to) :

4 registered Longhorns (two due to calve)
An 1987 Mercedes 300 TD wagon
2 snowmobiles
A beautiful Savage shotgun
Reloading equipment
2 Australian saddles

Bartering is a very valuable skill to learn for a grid-down world. It is far better to learn it now when the stakes are not nearly as high. Be willing to make mistakes and have fun. And please, if there are bartering skills that you think should be mentioned to supplement those that have already been discussed in SurvivalBlog, please e-mail them to Jim.

Go out and barter now, and do well by doing good! – D.S.