Watch out President Washington -- businesses and consumers are increasingly kicking aside the U.S. dollar for an archaic currency: bartering.
"Times have been tough," said Bob Sauerwine, Director of Sales at the Holiday Inn near St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport. Sauerwine aggressively barters for goods and services at the 173-room hotel, swapping surplus hotel rooms for a range of services, from electronics work to landscaping and air conditioning repair to carpet cleaning.
"It's really come to the forefront because of the economy," Sauerwine said of bartering, a form of exchange that predates modern money.
In the case of constant carpet cleaning, a must in a hotel of any size, Sauerwine can bypass the $750 cash fee in exchange for six nights in a hotel room.
"That's a great deal," he said. "It's a fantastic value. There's no doubt about it."
Sauerwine offers hotel stays for barter via FloridaBarter.com. Florida Barter says it offers a catalog of 1,800 and brokered $18 million in transactions during 2011. Approved users offer services for credit, which they can then use with other barterers.
"The easiest way I can explain it, it's like Monopoly money," said Dr. John Ferullo, a St. Petersburg dentist who has become active bartering on both business and consumer sides of the transaction.
Ferullo said he funded his daughter Raven's birthday bash by trading his services. The party, hosted at a barter hotel, featured live music from a bartered performer, plus a cake from a barter bakery.
"Just about her entire party was a barter," he said.
The ironic cost for that sugary cake: filling a few cavities (or other dental services).
"It doesn't matter, a barter is a barter is a barter," he said. "The value itself, I think is wonderful."
Ferullo, thinking long-term, jokes that he could really bring down the cost of his daughter's wedding one day.
"I hope," he said. "Everything she needs for her marriage would be barter? That would be great!"
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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