Barter Kings

Trading Tips

Want to start bartering? Antonio Palazzola and Steve McHugh give some tips and advice for the novice trader.

Antonio Palazzola's Tips
  1. Scan the trades. Keep an eye on Craigslist and all other bartering sites for potential solid deals.
  2. Always look over your shoulder. There are a lot of scammers out there. If something smells fishy, don't go fishing.
  3. Trading isn't something you should just dive into. There are a lot of sharks out there that could take advantage of a novice. Start small either with lower cost items, or practice by trading with friends and using local papers.
  4. You don't have to be an appraiser, but you have to know your item. Your best strategy in a trade is your knowledge on the item. If you don't know about it, don't trade with it. If you know someone who appraises, bring them to your trade, if not, a smartphone works just as well. Just jump on eBay and you can get your answers. I use the site to check the prices that items are selling at. Retail and wholesale mean nothing in my world. I don't deal with mall prices.
  5. Always keep a good poker face. The less reaction you show in a trade, the more of a chance you have of gaining the upper hand and trading up.
  6. Negotiating is learned through practice. Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you will be at it. Books like The Art of Negotiation help to get a good grasp on learning how to talk the talk.
  7. Never bring cash to a trade.
Steve McHugh's Tips
  1. Decide if you are going to start a trade for a specific goal/item or just to see what you can accomplish. If you are just doing it to see what you can accomplish, than don't put pressure on yourself and just have fun. You will be amazed at how far you can get.
  2. The most popular and effective website is Craigslist. It just reaches more people than other sites. But you can use a search engine to find bartering websites for your location – a lot of these sites are great.
  3. People always like to mention what their item sold for when it was brand new. Even if they got 50% off, they only mention what it was selling for at full retail price when it was new. You have to learn to address this issue quickly and effectively. If someone is willing to trade an item, they do not see a value in keeping it. You have to figure out that reason and justify the trade from there. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes not so easy.
  4. If you want to take a trade string far, you can't always worry about the exact value of an item. Trade value is way different than actual value. If I'm planning on making a trade string work, I like to start with items that people can't shop a value for – unique items, rare items, or hard-to-get items. I want to trade to an item that I know could be hard to move because I can get it easier if the other trader has had a problem trading or selling the item. When I find the right person to trade it to and they can't put an exact value on the item, it helps me make bigger value jumps and I can do less trades. But it is harder to do fast and takes patience.
  5. When I post something for trade, I make sure to take good photos and be specific about details, but I leave out some information so that the person who is interested will call me. Then I can see where I can go with the trade.
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