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Ever done any trading? Swap an item or items with someone who wants them in exchange for items he has that you want. Ideally, both parties go away satisfied.
I was reminded of trade and barter recently when I was asked by a local furniture dealer if I’d be interested in writing and recording some radio commercials for him in exchange for a few pieces of furniture from his “overstocked warehouse.” As it turned out, I was interested and the whole thing worked out well. The furniture store owner got his commercials and I got a nice futon and two side tables that we had delivered up to our camp.
As the son of a Maine dentist I learned all about the concept of barter and trade. My father’s patients often would want to trade things like carpentry work, house painting, firewood or even boats for something like a full set of uppers and lowers. The first car I ever owned was a 1963 Chevy Power Glide, given to me by my father, who had taken took it in trade from a little old lady who needed a new set of false teeth. When my father asked how she’d get along without her car she said, “First things first, Doc. Right now I feel I need some new teeth more than I need that old car.”
Back in the 1970s when I started working for a small radio station Down East, I was reintroduced to trade and barter. The station owner would take goods or services from some local business in exchange for commercials on the radio. There’s an old story in radio about the sales rep who got mugged out in front of the station. He called the police and an officer arrived on the scene to take down all the information. When the officer asked the sales rep if the mugger got anything the rep said: “He sure did! He got $100 in cash and $200 in trade.”
Maine’s radio stations used to be small local businesses and station owners used to do a lot of trading The owner of this Down East station I worked for used to trade commercials for a new car every year. You were likely to hear an ad for the dealership a few dozen times if you listened to the station a few hours a day. When the owner’s house needed new siding, it wouldn’t be long before we’d start running spots from a local lumber yard, and every year before the station’s Christmas party, we’d have spots from a caterer in town.
But, like most anything else, sometimes trade deals workout well and sometimes they don’t.
One June the station owner’s only daughter got married and he traded for the flowers, the gown, the food and limo -- everything. He had to run so many spots to pay for that wedding that the marriage ended before the ad schedule did.
But you know, that siding on his house still looks as good as new.

John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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