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A Restaurant That's Bartering Through the Recession Fireside Restaurant in Chicago Barters Through the Recession

Fireside Restaurant is using an age-old form of goods exchange to weather a tough economy.


A Chicago restaurant is using an age-old method of payment to power through a faltering economy. Richard Wohn, the owner of Fireside Restaurant and Lounge on the northwest side of the city, has kept up a steady stream of customers who pay through bartering. Wohn told WBEZ he estimates about five to 10 percent of his business is the result of bartering, an average of about five tables a night.

But don't go to the restaurant planning to make an on-the-spot deal; Fireside doesn't directly barter with customers. The restaurant uses bartering websites like ITEX and International Monetary System, which act sort of like brokering services for thousands of businesses. Wohn has actually been bartering more informally for decades; the online system has simply made it easier to connect with businesses who offer services he needs.

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Bartering reduces waste, cuts costs, and builds community. But to make a barter economy work, does it have to be niche?

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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wLNXFeZbBU

It's move out day at colleges around the country this week. So what happens to all that stuff students are leaving behind? Sadly, most of it, usable or not, will end up in the waste stream. But at Yale, at least, the softer castoffs like clothes and pillows will be salvaged and eventually offered to the community through a new nonprofit that's trying to make free a workable price for a local economy. Meet GiftFlow.

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