Bartering Keeps Small Oklahoma Businesses Alive In Tough Times

Wednesday, August 25th 2010, 3:43 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

OWASSO, Oklahoma -- The economic recovery appears to be stalling, and new figures out Wednesday show the past three months of new home sales are the worst on record. Unemployment remains near double digits, and job growth in the private sector is slowing.

And let's not even talk about Wall Street.

But some area small business owners are showing some Oklahoma ingenuity to get by during the tough times. It's called "business bartering," and the practice is going strong.

At Andolini's Pizzeria in Owasso, they make 22 different kinds of specialty pizza.

"I just try to make my favorite pizza and hope that it will be someone else's favorite pizza, and I think we kind of hit the mark," said restaurant owner Mike Bausch.

When the economy started its downward spiral, like many small business owners, Mike Bausch looked for ways to save money.

He couldn't skimp on ingredients, but could sacrifice on extras: like window washing.

That's when John Wyatt stepped in. Wyatt owns a window washing business.

"Having your own business, you can't really beat it," said window washer John Wyatt.

His idea helps the pizza restaurant and his window washing business which has slowed down because of the poor economy.

 "I love to eat," Wyatt said.

So Wyatt and Bausch reached a deal that helps both: bartering pizza, for monthly window washing.

"It is the ideal definition of a win-win," said Mike Bausch, owner of Andolini's Pizzeria.

"Of course I can't do exchanges with everybody, because I can't barter my mortgage payment or my electric bill, but it does help out," Wyatt said.

Wyatt says with small business budgets tight, bartering helps businesses keep up a nice appearance and earns him things his family would ordinarily spend money on.

"I've done exchanges for golf clubs, furniture, eye exams," said John Wyatt, "Everybody has something that you may want or need."

Restaurant owner Mike Bausch says bartering makes sense in good economic times or bad.

"I haven't paid for an oil change in years at this point," he said.

And Wyatt predicts with the economy still struggling, more small business owners may turn to bartering until things get better.

"Instead of going under or closing your business down, you might think of this first," said Wyatt.

Wyatt says trading window washing for eye exams and contact lenses is probably the most unique barter he's made.  But, he's also traded window washing for free family vacations in Branson as well.