Barter-Only Stockpiles by R. Ann Parris
It doesn’t take long to start hearing about barter once we enter the prepper folds. It’s as ubiquitous as the bugout bag, a popular topic for discussion, articles, and videos.
Barter is as old as human semi-specialization. For long periods of time, trade of direct goods has represented large portions of our “commerce”. Services have been traded even longer and more frequently.
However, there’s some aspects to consider, especially if we’re using precious space and financial budgets for barter-only goods — or plan to pick up a skill solely for the purpose of trading after a disaster.
Most importantly for preppers, we have to consider the actual feasibility of barter in a crisis.
That takes several forms, involving both us and our potential trading partners.
Picture any disaster. Go as wild as you like, even into fictional mega-disasters and post-apocalyptic movies, video games, and books. Pick a couple. There’s plenty to choose from, history or imagination.
How deep into the disaster is it before our physical goods become valuable?
Can we actually survive long enough for our stashed barter goods to become valuable?
How are we finding the people with something we want/need? Are they approaching us?
How do we plan to approach our targets with our barter goods? Are we making arrangements and then heading to a stash point/cache of these goods? Hauling it all around with us?
Who are we trading with, especially when it comes to the common suggestions like alcohol and nicotine/tobacco?
(I won’t even touch on the possibility of a Jonesing fiend not having what we want after all, and us turning them down — or turning down somebody who heard from a tradesman/doctor/bacon hoarder that we had booze/smokes/pot/painkillers.)
What is it those people who are desperate for our barter-only goods are offering us?
Primitive/colonial village skills fall into the same category, especially if we’re devoting resources to learning them solely because they’ll be valuable in a disaster, but it would take a mega disaster to become applicable.
I’m not opposed to barter, don’t get me wrong. I actually engage in it with neighbors, other growers, and family friends, and periodically trade groceries (to include hay or graze space, not just produce and eggs) for some extra hands.
Before we use some of our preparedness time and resources on something that only applies “if”, though, think about those disaster scenarios again, and realistically evaluate our current preparedness level.
If we can’t outlast the initial stages of a disaster and hold out until they become valuable, our stockpile of tools, ammo, booze, and seeds for barter won’t do us any good. Nor will a specialized skill that requires surviving getting blasted backward and then recovering to colonial or castle village lifestyles before others need it because they can’t scrounge soap or clothes anywhere among the rubble of former lives anymore.
Rather than stocking/learning something we’ll never use, or use in the bulk we’re keeping for its barter potential, bulk the areas we need for ourselves instead.
History is full of disasters big and small where we can see what disappears and what the populace finds valuable. They’re real commonly the exact same things we want for outages, hard times, and supply disruptions, from groceries to chargers to tools.
Even with those universally useful items, bear in mind our current storage and capabilities, and don’t get too carried away with something just for the purpose of barter.