Wednesday, May 10, 2017

barter town 5

note: don't have a Wal-Mart nearby?  You can still get the buckets of wheat, through Amazon.  You need to be a Prime member, but it pays for itself quick.  Here is the page with the wheat buckets:  and if you want to join Prime here is that link:
note: I'll be trying out BBB no.1 on Kindle Unlimited, see how things work out.  Be advised.

Let’s take another track here and talk about how much barter is going to cost.  Nobody thinks about that.  It is just assumed that you pick up a little of this and a little of that and call it good.  But if we are going to assume most preppers are the actual survivors ( a flawed premise as most preppers are entrenched in the big cities firmer than a tick up a bulldogs ass, but it is an equally flawed supposition that luck alone will determine your chances.  Probably equal measures, but as records of civilization collapses are sparse we can sometimes only WAG ) then perhaps not as many people as you think are going to want your barter supplies.  You can either stock the heck out of everything, a wet spaghetti noodle to the wall approach, hoping you adequately covered stuff most folks missed, or you can throw money at the problem like so many survivalist gurus assume you are able to and buy the big ticket items most are not able to cover.  Either way, this stuff adds up quick.  If you didn’t spend all that much, it isn’t barter, it is personal supplies.


Let’s say you went the high dollar amount.  Few folks will stock seeds, nor locations be conducive, for tobacco growing.  It is usually a safe bet, outside of places like North Carolina, that cigarettes will be in high demand.  So you stock the cheapest tobacco you can, the roll your own stuff.  Your local village, those who can trade, has let’s say a hundred people.  Twenty are smokers, and smokers don’t handle stress well without smoking and an apocalypse is going to be stressful for anyone.  But they all can only manage to barter a pack a week, rather than their preferred carton or two.  That is two cartons a week you need.  A pound of pipe tobacco and three cartons of empty filtered tubes is about $20.  Do you have a thousand bucks you can invest in tobacco, just to keep less than two dozen customers in a pack a week demand for a year?  Of course it is more than that as you should Mason jar your tobacco as the plastic envelopes fail after a time, but we assume you can resell the jars so no big deal ( other than from the point of view of up front investment ).


That is one item.  Sure, you could just invest the $20 and stop, but why are you limiting yourself?  If you are only stocking barter items for emergencies, like when you need an emergency dentist, what if someone else cornered that market by investing the grand?  Could you get enough credit out of a limited item?  If you assume you’ll need to barter more than once, a safe assumption it seems to me, $20 is worthless.  You need hundreds to thousands of dollars.  If you are the only one who bought a grand in tobacco rather than just the $20, you’ll set the price much higher after the first month or two.  By stocking Onesies, you are almost asking to get low balled.  Only bulk buys a better price since you must outlast the hobby barterists by you becoming a professional.  And pro’s stock DEEP.  So, you spend the grand.  But that only helps you out for a year, and what if someone else did the same?  You stock more or you stock different, plus more of different.  It is a bit of a snowballing demand here.


Now let’s say that you just went with the Many Items strategy.  I went with a random sites “top forty” list.  We’ll pick the cheapest way and eliminate the easily duplicated items ( booze is too easy to make, no need to stock bottles ).  And just say a half dozen of each.

Water filters $120

Metal garden tools from garage sales $100

Sewing supplies from the $ store $70

Baking soda $5

Mylar blankets $6

Matches $20

Tampons $10

Disposable razors $12

Fish hooks $6

Cheapest fixed blade knives $12

Spices $36

Paperback books, garage sale ( boxes full ) $60

Coffee, generic $30

Rechargeable batteries, in pairs $10

Battery chargers $120 ( alternative, garden LED solar lights )

Pencils, back to school sale $6

Paper, same $2

Reading glasses $ store $6

Para cord $20

Playing cards, name brand $20

Trash bags $12

Zip-Locks, generic $ store $6

Seeds $36

Flashlights $12

Plastic sheeting, heavy mil $60

Duct tape, Gorilla brand, small rolls $30

Soap, four pack $6

Toothpaste, brushes, toothpicks $15

Condoms $10

Disposable gloves $12

Hard candy $12

Knitting yarn $60

Knit needles $12

There you go, almost a thousand bucks for variety, all the really good items, yet that is ONLY a half a dozen of each.  There aren’t really vice items or life saving items.  No bulk toilet paper, very few items over $10 each.  Most are items that get used up quickly ( matches, toothpaste ), or broken easily ( reading glasses ).  Really, all of the above is less than what you personally should have on hand for your own use.  You’ll need a can of coffee a month for two, for instance.  And that isn’t drinking but four cups a day each.   So why don’t you figure on that list being at least double on most items, just for you.  NOW add more multiples for barter.  Do you see the difficulty in embracing the barter system now?


Of course, that is just illustrative of how the cost can exceed what you envisioned.  You can easily cherry pick.  Eliminate the high cost items like tobacco, and eliminate most of the list and just go with a lot of a few items.  Sewing needles probably shouldn’t be one, as a few go a long way and last a long time.  Matches are a great bet but are bulky and need to be moisture proof.  Sanitary napkins can be sold by repurposing baby cloth diapers, but perhaps the practice will become just using any old clothing that isn’t mendable.  Then your investment is only good for actual babies.  Just beware at a buck a diaper, and the average baby needing dozens on hand, and the lack of birth control ( although countered by high birth mortality ) to get you a lot of babies might mean this becomes a LOT of money to invest if done right ( you also need replacements eventually, pins, plastic outerwear, etc ).  Beware items being TOO common.  I think it might be awhile before paperback books become scarce ( after being read many times, then used as TP ).


My recommendations based on consumption, cost of purchase,  lack of substitutions and demand would be:

Playing cards ( $2 each brand name bulk at Amazon )

Flashlights, batteries and chargers

Reading glasses


Baking soda and toothbrushes


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  1. It won't take long for some (many) of the items on this list to become "things we use to have" but don't NEED. Have you ever seen a baby in the jungle wearing a diaper, must less plastic outer pants? Many of these items are to this day a ridiculous "want's" not needs in developing nations. I remember being in the jungle in Central America and finding Chocolate Chip cookies at a outrageous price, I asked the store keeper "Who would buy these?" He answered "Gringo's" i.e. stupid tourist. If your grandparents didn't have it, forgetaboutit.

  2. Wow, what a deal on that bucket of wheat. 250 servings for only $15 or so? Shelf life of up to 30 years? Just can't go wrong with that. I guess you need your own way to grind it down to flour though, eh? Your own quern or whatever it's called, as it were?

    I actually just got from the grocery store. Just a tad over $40 CAD and I got a couple cans of gravy and meatballs, can of off-brand SPAM (love that shit), two boxes of off-brand KraftDinner, three packages of ramen, two cans of beans, two cans of Vienna Sausages (my weakness, they were going for $0.99 each...), bag of frozen veggies for my rice (don't want scurvy), bottle of off-brand cheeze whiz as well as basically no-name jam for the bags of bread I get at church every Friday for free, a couple tubs of butter since it was on special, small carton of milk, for coffee (a luxury, I know), and sliced cheese.

    Also a box that I can make 4 donairs out of, because I fucking LOVE donairs sometimes when I drink. $5, and I think 200 calories or so per donair, so not particularly cost-efficient but I like to treat myself sometimes. There are also churches nearby that give free meals on certain days of the week which also go towards saving money, so y'know, lots of ways to decrease monthly or even weekly spending.

    1. Coffee, a luxury? Such blasphemy! Repent! The wheat is a so-so deal, compared to buying bags at the feed store. Per pound, 22 cents vs. 65. Granted, you must buy your own buckets, but still half price.

    2. Oh, no no no, I didn't say that COFFEE is a luxury, but the carton of 2% milk for coffee is. It'd be more cost efficient to just stick with black coffee with sugar. Picked up a 2kg (4.4lb) bag of sugar a couple weeks back which will of course last me quite some time. The sugar was $2.87 CAD, which is probably around $2.10 USD. Not bad.

      That may be so, but still 250 servings for only $15 is a great deal! I don't think there's a 'feed store' around here so getting a bucket of it sent here is probably my best bet, and I plan to get that Amazon Prime thing when I finally get around to buying my books to hold them for the first time. Also, as mentioned, as a 'quern' or some other method needed to turn the wheat into flour? How do you eat the stuff?

    3. A Victorian corn grinder is your $40 wheat grinder. You must grind three times ( it is made for corn, not wheat, so this is the cheap workaround ), on course, then medium, then fine ( plates not quite touching ). Flour for pancakes, flat bread, etc. Or, sprout and then eat. Or, sprout and then make essence bread. Or, toast the kernels and eat whole. Or, soak kernels overnight, heat up and eat as gruel or as a rice substitute. Wheat is very versatile.

  3. Once I can start buying again, I'm still going to focus on more thread and needles - on sales at real sewing/craft supply stores. Serger thread, the big cones, and large packages of needles. Needles break pretty easily, and I can measure off 9 yards of thread and wrap it around twigs if necessary. I have enough thread for me right now, in black, white, and tan.

    1. I don't think most folks want to use a needle from a bone, hope they are stocked also. Too cheap NOT to.

  4. Speaking of baking soda.
    For the past 3 months I have been washing my garments with 1 cup of white vinegar and 2 teaspoons of baking soda - the stuff in the box, not in the round can. I get generic IGA brands, the vinegar is $2.29 a gal and the baking soda is $1.29 a box.

    So far I haven't seen a down side but I also haven't heavily soiled my garments either. I no longer imbibe my garments with expensive chemicals that hold potential health hazards and shorten the lifecycle them. I use no rinse in the washer nor do I add anything in the dryer.

    As soon as the sun stabilizes around here I'll be installing a clothes line. (seems like it rains every other day unless it rains 3 days in a row. arrrggg!)

    Come Aug, after 6 months of trial, if I have no problems with this arrangement I will purchase 10 gallons of vinegar and 20 boxes of the baking soda. I'd like to eventually have enough on hand to last 5 years, so I am tracking how it is used.

    Regarding the barter stuff, I am only stocking gross amounts of stuff we use. That way it isn't going to waste. If I can't use it myself then there is little point in having it. It's not like I have tons of coin around here for buying stuff I don't need nor use.

    1. Do you think I used enough wordage to discredit barter?:) Have you looked into the "make your own" laundry soap at 54 cents a gallon? Seems like vinegar would be used better in other ways? Unless this is just day-to-day rather than PA.

    2. Yes I did look into the home made laundry soap and had been on the fence for some time. I finally got to the point that I just didn't want to subject myself and my garment to ANY chemicals except organic stuff. Yes, the vinegar and BS can be used for other purposes and that's another benefit to stocking it. Just because I use it for laundry doesn't mean I can't use it for other stuff, the point is to have 20 or more gallons and maybe 50 boxes on hand. And when I use say 5 gals and 10 boxes, but double the amount I used to replenish.

      Regarding the barter thing, while it seems attractive on it's face - having things on hand that others may want, that word *attraction* has a double edge. While hiding in the woods from ne'er do wells it makes no sense to attract them. Now, as far as tribe supplementation, by all means stock up. If things get that bad then the tribe will be your new fambly and it will behoove you to help them in all ways and vice versa.

    3. I wonder if some place like a resturaunt jobber has bigger containers of vinegar.

  5. Your list is simple, and something you would use over time anyways - at least generationally, even if in massive bulk. And items that wouldn't be too badly missed if you had to trade most of them away over time.

  6. Things I stockpiled:

    * Nail clippers (cheap from Thrift Stores)

    * Toothbrushes

    * Stainless steel pots, heavy duty, 2 - 4 gallon size

    * Cast iron pans (second hand)

    * Canning jar lids (Buy in Bulk for cheap price)

    * Candles (From yard and estate sales)

    * Nails (16d and 8d)

    * Paracord (several large spools)

    * Tarps and heavy duty plastic

    Idaho Homesteader

    1. Nail clippers-I think we talked about those a long time ago. New ones are cheap crap that break easy. If China could screw up a one piece plastic hair comb, they would ( at the direction of our CEO's, of course ). But, a great item to stockpile as it is an affordable luxury. How does one trim your nails without them? Wait until long and just rip them off I suppose.

    2. After getting burned with several cheap clippers I finally broke down and got some 'spensive ones (less than $10) on amazon that got heavy raves. The most common problem with the cheap ones is the cutting edges don't line up and that is the most crucial aspect.

      I bought a cheap comb, the 8" variety, and it did something I never seen a comb do before. The teeth are about 3/4"-1" long and on everyone of the teeth about 1/8" broke off the end. Correct. The comb now has teeth shorter than when I bought it. Was combing my hair and saw a bunch of pepper in the sink (didn't have my glasses on), and thought WTF? Ran my finger through it and still didn't know what it was until I looked at the comb. Them broken off tips were all through my magnificent coiffure !

    3. Jesus, you can make plastic THAT cheap? I thought I was being funny. :(

    4. I've been pretty lucky with the nail clippers I get from second hand stores regarding quality. Plus the price is right -- can't beat 25 cents or under. I am sure most of them come from old folks who kick the bucket and the kids donate all the stuff they don't want to the thrift store. So the clippers are probably 10-20-30 years old. I also see a lot of the old fingernail grooming kits that were fashionable back in the sixties in the bins.

      Idaho Homesteader

    5. Now you got me wanting to visit the thrift store.

  7. Some items are available in quantity for only the cost of carrying them off. Portlandia has a bunch of "baby boomers" "downsizing" their "lifestyle" to a more compact but not cheaper situation, that leads them to put perfectly good products on the curb. I have a couple dozen packs of sealed playing cards that were put in a recycle bin in their original retail sales carton. Microfleece/wool/silk/whatever jackets/hats/gloves in almost-unworn condition end up in free pile at curb (Drove the Subaru to Mt.Hood once, didn't like it, stored perfect items until next pre-move cleanout). I've gotten empty 7 gallon propane tanks from free piles as well as fully-operational window AC units (pdx has about 10 AC days per summer, so a 10 year old unit is less than half-a-summer used in LosAngeles). Clothing has less-than-zero resale value, esp. warm-sturdy kind that is the most useful, so I wash and pack in military duffle bag for post-heating times when my circus troupe will need them. Attics have low-value PITA-to-access dry space.
    Agree totally on strategy of "buy extra for yourself, with focus on what was valuable to peasants in pre-1830". Sewing needles and bulk no-rot thread have excellent value-density-longevity-usefulness points. A non-electric or convertable-to-treadle sewing machine sewing machine (like Pfaff 130, or simpler) multiplies the usefulness of women at home. LED lighting on a treadle machine is the perfect combo. Small bottles of PTFE-enhanced synthetic lube will keep the machines going, along with many-multi-packs of wear parts (needles/bobbins/thread-guides/rubberparts).

    Internal combustion engines? Save them for pumps. Nothing pumps water so well as running a shaft-driven pump directly from a small ICE (gasoline or Diesel). Way better than arm/foot/animal power and more efficient than genset->cord->electricpump, as long as the lube/filters/fuel holds out.

    1. Why downsize?
      You need to watch some of these 'tiny houses' shows on DIY and HGTV channels. @8ft by 20ft-30ft 'tiny houses' for up to $100,0000 (with a handful thrown in for @$6k built by owners own hands, but those tend to be rare.). Sure they have some nice space saving ideas. But primarily it seems to be about ecology or mobility (house on trailer so they can be at the beach during beach weather and at the mountains during mountain weather, etc.).
      Your PODA nomads are in the making.
      And they (a lot of them) are the Yuppies you hate.

    2. I think come Judgement Day, my hatred for Yuppies will be vindicated. Sounds like the Tiny House shows are like the Prepper Shows, all Hollywood, no reality.

  8. I think of barter as what you do with the excessive stuff that you produce yourself, not what you stockpile.

    If my chickens are laying more eggs than I can or want to eat/store, then I use the excess to barter for something more useful to me from someone else who has also produced in excess.

    In a long-term cluster#$%@ of a situation, I can't really know how much of the stuff I can't make myself I am going to need, so I'm keeping it all for me or within my family. Stockpiling extra stuff means you have to predict what others will want/need accurately (I'm not that smart to know the future), and waste storage space on stuff you likely will never need yourself. Sounds high risk to me.

    I would focus barter on what I have a unique skill set or situation for production and forget about trying to be the post-apoc Walmart.

    1. I believe the thinking goes that everyone will have eggs, zucchini, etc., so go with supply and demand, the demand higher for the non-local items.