Illustration by Joseph Fischer
There will be no scratching in checkbooks or thumbing through cash this Sunday at the GYA Community Gallery and Fine Craft Shop. For one afternoon, participants in St. Louis’ first Barter Fest will return to a more medieval form of commerce. Artists, cooks, brew masters, and many others will barter and trade for other goods and services—no money allowed.
Barter Fest is the invention of Joseph Fischer and Geraldine Co, founders of the print zine underWAREs, which includes articles on local eateries and a barter circle directory. Seventy people contribute to the barter circle, offering a wide range of goods and services, including face painting, mandolin lessons, and a plethora of homemade beers. Fischer and Co are working in close partnership with The Cowry Collective, a timebank serving the Greater St. Louis Area. There will also be a potluck, clothes swap, and live music at the event and admission, in accordance with the spirit of the afternoon, is free.
Despite the overwhelming amount of services offered, Fischer ran into some unexpected challenges. “Bartering thrives with people who are close to each other,” Fischer says. “Having random people barter with each other has proven more difficult than we possibly imagined.” After doing some research, Fischer discovered New York and other cities were holding events and potlucks to promote bartering in their communities, and the idea for Barter Fest was born.
Fischer anticipates the turnout to be a little more modest than in big, metropolitan areas, expecting at least 30 participants. He hopes that the festival will be the perfect way to promote bartering throughout the St. Louis community.
Barter Fest is only in its infancy, but Fischer already has big plans. He hopes to host at least four events a year and become more active with local venues and food publications to promote it.
“Bartering is a healthy, empowering exercise in which we showcase our individual talents and passions.” Fischer says. “We are looking to foster community in St. Louis, which builds the uniqueness of our city and builds our reliance on one another.”
"Barter Fest" happens on Sunday at GYA Community Gallery and Fine Craft Shop from 3-6 p.m., at 2700 Locust. Admission is free. For more information or to register as a participant contact Joseph Fischer by visiting https://sites.google.com/site/underwarestl