Students all over the city of Ithaca are rummaging around basements, yard sales and the Salvation Army for decorative, yet cheap, items to make their dorms and apartments feel like home. Though individual styles differ, students share a common hope: to fill their rooms with bargain items that will not only last through the school year, but also add pizzazz to an otherwise dull living space without exceeding their budgets.
Junior Tucker Ives said he tries to find deals and discounts anywhere possible, specifically through bartering.
“I’ve always been interested in bartering,” he said. “I hear stories about the Mexican marketplace involving a lot of bartering, and I think it is really interesting.”
This interest in a different kind of marketplace — one involving little to no money — can be explored by students from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Share Tompkins Community Swap Meet on Cascadilla Street.
Instead of the usual bargain-bin hunting, the community swap meet’s focus this year is on students willing to take a chance and barter with other locals.
Shira Golding, organizer of the swap, is a Cornell University graduate who stayed in Ithaca because she enjoys living in a smaller community where people share resources with one another.
“There were already some low-key community swaps taking place; however, they were not happening on a continuous or organized level,” Golding said.
Golding and her partner decided to change the system after seeing other locals create their own businesses, she said.
“I was really inspired by cool things people were doing around town, like a friend of mine who started delivering fresh tortillas to people around town on her bike,” she said.
One evening in early May, Golding held a meeting for people in Ithaca who would be interested in participating, attending or helping organize a communitywide swap.
“The meeting got a great response,” she said. “Over 25 people showed up and were interested.” The result of that meeting was a monthly, organized community swap meet.
Golding said swaps offer the members of the Ithaca community a marketplace where they can exchange, sell, buy and give away goods and services, but a bigger crowd brings the best value.
“The swap is defined by who shows up,” Golding said. “People offer massages, health counseling, graphic design services, fresh food and music.”
Sharing services is something Golding practices every day.
“A few different people happened to be moving in the coming week, and we all helped them move so they didn’t have to rent a U-Haul,” she said.
Because the focus of these swap meets is exchanging, money is not usually used, which distinguishes the Share Tompkins Community Swap Meet from other money-based markets.
“The focus is on bartering and sharing,” she said. “The participants of the swap will accept money; however, if money doesn’t have to be involved they would rather leave it out. We have a lot of stuff that we can just trade and give away without having to involve money as much, and that can really help people who are short on cash.”
The upcoming swap is expected to be one of Ithaca’s largest in a public place instead of a community member’s house. Golding has plans for another big swap downtown in October, in honor of the Bioneers Conference, aneco-themed festival that is taking place on the Ithaca College campus.
Students are encouraged to come whether it is just to check out the festivities or to barter.
Junior Alex Barbone said she is interested in attending the swap to see a different type of marketplace in action.
“I would absolutely be interested in exchanging babysitting services for fresh produce,” she said.
Barbone said she hopes she can find people who will want to act or help her out in the studio for her ICTV or E16 shows she is directing. With other people volunteering their services, Barbone said she is more comfortable with asking for help.
“I feel like when you buy something, you have to lose something to get the goods,” she said. “But if you exchange, then you get to help other people out and feel better about what you’re obtaining.”