In this difficult economy, many people are looking for creative ways to cut household costs. One way that has been used successfully in many communities is a type of exchange club. In an exchange club, members essentially barter goods they own for goods they need. Most of us are familiar with the concept in the form of hand-me-down clothing within our own families. Exchange clubs are a similar idea, but with a few key differences. If an exchange club is something you find interesting, there are a couple of key steps you should consider before beginning your venture.
First, you should consider what sort of goods will be exchanged. Depending upon the community in which you live, there may be some goods that are more desirable than others. A community that is primarily comprised of retirees are not likely to be interested in exchanging children's clothing. Likewise, a community that is family-oriented may not be interested in exchanging glass figurines. Consider your audience and tailor your exchange club to that audience by keeping the goods for exchange relevant to the lifestyle of the majority of the participants. An exchange club that trades in clothing for children between the ages of 2 yrs and 5 yrs will probably be more successful within a group of daycare centers than it would be in a retirement community.
Second, consider whether or not you want the exchange club to be a charitable organization or a profitable one. Some exchange clubs may charge participants an annual membership fee while others may be free to everyone who participates. By charging an annual fee you would be able to cover any costs of marketing the exchange club to the community and managing the exchange of goods while also generating an income. If the exchange club is to be charitable, the structure of the club will likely need to be self-supporting. In other words, the exchange club may end up being a simple way for people to contact one another individually in order to setup the exchange of goods independent of a central repository. This can be done through any number of internet groups or forums, often for little or no cost.
Regardless of the structure or type of goods exchanged, an exchange club can be a good way for a community to help itself out in difficult economic times.