trades swaps toronto recession

Tradesies Make a Comeback

One of the hardest things I'm struggling with through this recession is the pang of guilt associated with retail therapy. Those new shoes were supposed to make me feel better about the fact that my date didn't call back, not worse! Luckily for me there are other ways to get the goods I want in Toronto - without breaking the bank.

The recession is actually aiding in the growth of an increasingly viable secondary market. For those of us not willing to drop a dime, there is another option besides dumpster diving and foraging: tradesies.

Toronto Craigslist has seen a 30 per cent increase in "barter" postings over the last 12 months, reports Beth Cook, a spokeswoman for If you're looking to trade your services, or expertise, for a specific item, Craigslist is the place to go. But for the straight exchange of goods, other, more structured opportunities exist... and events are popping up all over the city.

The good people of have organized an upscale women's clothing swap for Thursday April 16th at the Burroughes Building on Queen West. "We have heard about women in Toronto organizing clothing exchanges in their condos, but we wanted to do it on a bigger scale so that a larger number of women could participate and really feel the whole swap experience," explained Julia Seidl, creative director and founder of Stylehog.

Attendees will receive one ticket for each article of clothing or accessory they bring to the event, designer pieces get a different colour ticket, that can be traded in for "new" pieces. The only rules are that the items be lightly used and fashionable.

Once I feel more emotionally secure about what my wardrobe has to offer for the season I'm going to find more innovative ways to cover the patches of plaster dotting the walls of my downsized apartment. I'll be looking to the website of Toronto arts collaborative Team Macho. On the "trades" page of their website, each artist as well as the collective offers up a list of demands: things they're willing to exchange for artwork.

"When we first started out with our website, we liked the idea, partially due to an attraction to the idea that our skills and time might be worth something in the way of real world value," wrote Team Macho in an email, "and partially due to the fact that we were wretchedly poor and felt it might be a way for us to earn access to things that we couldn't justify paying for (I'm thinking the 5 man bicycle or competitive pogo stick)."

A lot of my future emotional stability seems to rest in the growth of an accessible secondary market within Toronto, and Team Macho offers me reason to be hopeful. "As far as success stories go, we have been traded piles of found photography, received a crossbow via mail, and even paid off fines all in exchange for artwork. So it's been what we'd call a raging success," assured Team Macho.

So there you have it - tradesies are back. Happy bartering.

Written by guest contributor Nichole Jankowski.

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