“The VBSR Marketplace is an online business-to-business payment system that allows businesses to coordinate, measure, and grow their trade. Businesses pool the credit they issue to each other into a common marketplace where local goods and services are bought and sold, entrepreneurs are able to pre-purchase needed goods and services, and the cost of doing business is lowered by consolidating expenses and buying power,” states Amy Kirschner, founder and director of the Marketplace which is coordinated through VBSR (Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility), Vermont’s premier business trade association dedicated to incorporating SR (social responsibility) into Vermont businesses and organizations.
I am a business development specialist aka broker with the VBSR Marketplace committed to growing and developing relationships and barters in Vermont’s food, agriculture, hospitality industries as that is where my marketing, public relations, and journalism networks and experience merge together. To help increase understanding of how the Marketplace works so we can grow our state’s new economy, I thought I would shed some light on the details…
The VBSR Marketplace transactions are financial yet not included in cash flow. They are reported as a third party record keeper of accounts payable/receivable and reported in Profit & Loss statements. When set up in an accounting system, Marketplace transactions operate in a similar manner to bank accounts. W-9 forms are collected when accounts are activated and 1099 forms are distributed in January. Accounting statements are provided monthly and do not represent tax or tip, if applicable, which are paid in cash at the point of sale.
The VBSR Marketplace is not meant to compete with cash business. It is a secondary market alternative for B-grade, unsold business/products/services. Instead of discounts, spoilage, or no business; indirect trade arrangements at full retail/list price or rack rate are placed into the open Marketplace. When purchased, the price is converted to trade credits with a 4-6% transaction fee, depending on type of account. The trade credits are then used to purchase products or services that can help boost business and create additional cash flow without spending the cash. The Marketplace is also a good way to shift to a local vendor, grow new or developing business lines, or try new levels of creativity.
For example, a specialty food producer needs web marketing support but has not been able to find the cash to pay for it. By selling B-grade or last season product in the Marketplace, they can use trade credits to purchase marketing services. The marketing service prefers cash business, but also would like more employee perks like restaurant gift certificates or food for staff meetings, however these items never fit in the budget. By selling some services in the Marketplace, these services can now be purchased without cash. A restaurant sells gift certificates in the Marketplace, and can find interesting B-grade food products for soups and sauces they do not often come across and do not have to pay cash.
Transactions are initiated on the VBSR Marketplace website – www.vbsrmarket.com – or with brokers who work in specific industries to help clients find the products or services they need and to create offers to sell. Transactions are further completed directly between buyer and seller and include cash payments for shipping, taxes, gratuity if applicable, and cash/trade splits for hard goods. Non-VBSR members are invited to join the Marketplace and require a referral from a member. All VBSR Marketplace members are invited to sign up for the Marketplace as a part of their membership benefits.
It is important to note that many available products or services are NOT listed online as they are simply too popular or can only be offered once, so it is important to connect with a broker and develop custom transactions. If you’re in the food, agriculture, or tourism business sectors, let’s have a conversation about how the Marketplace can work for you!
Rachel Carter, Food System & Tourism Specialist