NORTH OGDEN -- When Shawn Maynard, co-owner of Bullfrog Spa, has some excess inventory that is not selling, he turns to bartering instead of allowing the items to take up valuable space.
Through trade he has obtained a travel trailer, carpet for his building and tens of thousands of dollars in advertising and marketing products, in exchange for excess merchandise, floor models and scratch and dent items.
"The down side of trading is that you have to find someone that has something that you want," Maynard said.
For the past few years, Maynard has used the bartering company ITEX, which has its offices in his building at 2005 N. Washington Blvd., North Ogden, to get rid of his overstock and other products and get items that his business needs.
"It opens up the world of trade a ton," Maynard said.
Tina Marie Fowler with ITEX of Northern Utah said many businesses have extra items or services that they can trade.
"People want to do it," Fowler said, "but they don't know how to do it effectively,"
The company has been in existence nationally for 30 years and has been in northern Utah for about a decade. Fowler's office is one 95 offices around the country.
ITEX facilitates trade between businesses. Through ITEX, a business will put up items in exchange for ITEX dollars. With the ITEX dollars, a business can purchase items within the ITEX system.
Fowler said companies could go through the newspaper or online classified services, but it takes more work to get what an item is worth.
"Since they aren't doing direct trade," Fowler said, "they can get equal value."
The company works with about 800 business owners in Utah and 25,000 nationwide, Fowler said, which not only provides a good trading network, but also helps build a diverse customer base.
Mike Leavitt, owner of Leavitt's Mortuary, has used ITEX for about six years.
It has allowed Leavitt to reach customers he normally never would have.
By using ITEX, he has traded grave markers and urns to places as far away as Florida. With his ITEX dollars, he has obtained products for the funeral home such as tools and light bulbs.
Some businesses use ITEX to get marketing material, hire service technicians or to take their customers or staff to lunch. Others have used ITEX to book hotel rooms, vacations or massages.
Through trade, companies can also get giveaways and prizes for their customers or staff.
Utah State Tax Commission Spokesman Charlie Roberts said most of the time, businesses do not have to pay taxes for items they trade for equal value. They would have to pay tax on difference for an item traded for greater value such as trading a $100 item in exchange for a $500 item.
The business would also have to pay tax once the item is sold.
Although Leavitt and Maynard have found benefits, they do not rely solely on bartering.
"It's not like cash that you can get everything on trade," Fowler said.
Fowler said her company can only serve as a small component to local businesses.
"Business owners have to be careful what they trade," Fowler said. "They can't trade themselves out of business."
It is a good way to get rid of excess inventory or to put services to good use.
"I would encourage any business to sign up for and participate in the trade process," Maynard said. "We all have things sitting around that are tying up our cash flow."