It is a simple fact of space, time, and economics, that we simply cannot store everything we’ll ever need. If we could, we’d all be living in massive warehouses stacked to the rafters. There will come a time when you will need to trade, or barter, for things you do not have. In this short article, we’ll discuss some of the more valuable trade goods to keep on hand.
Naturally when you start talking bartering one of the first things that will come up is ammo. Some are for the idea, and others are not. But there is no doubt that when things go belly up, ammo will be at a premium. Of course, trading ammo could very well lead to you receiving it back at high velocity, so trade with caution.
Ammunition isn’t the only thing folks will need to keep weapons functional. Cleaning supplies are also a necessity, and while many of these can be repurposed from household items, there will still be a demand. Cleaning kits, bore brushes, and the like will always be needed. As will parts like firing pins, springs and any wearable part in a firearm. Having a few parts lying around for some of the more popular weapons could earn their weight in gold back to you.
Tobacco is another item often talked of and for a good reason. When under stress, smokers and chewers will gnaw off their own arm for a nicotine fix.
Having bags of Bugler tobacco that you can portion out into small quantities will be quite valuable. Add in rolling papers and maybe several cheap plastic rolling machines, and you could even be trading individual cigarettes. I’ve seen single smokes sold on the street before, and I imagine that trade will increase when Big Tobacco no longer exists.
Alcohol is another trade good often spoke of and for a good reason. Not only can you get commode hugging drunk off it, but it also has many other uses. Higher proof clear liquor can be used as a disinfectant.
Though, I think it’s primary purpose will be what folks want. Gallon jugs of cheap vodka can be purchased relatively inexpensively today. Add in a couple of cases of pint Mason jars, and you can portion that out for trade. Store higher quality booze for those times you are in desperate need.
Hygiene is probably the one category most people will overlook. And it’s a great place to really stock up. Just remember that these items need to be stored in temperature-controlled environments for longer life. Everything from toothbrushes and toothpaste to feminine hygiene products will be in very high demand. Diapers and baby care products will also be in high demand. Deodorant and disposable razors, shaving cream and even hand lotion, will be sought.
You have to keep in mind people will be far more physically active than they are today. Soap will probably be one of the most sought-after items in a post-collapse society. I purchased a hundred bars of Ivory soap from an online retailer and packaged it in mylar bags. While we are spoiled in our modern life, that soap can wash everything from your body and hair to your clothes if needed.
Over-the-counter meds will be another class of items everyone is going to need. These are harder to store because of expiration dates, but do not let that deter you from stocking them. Aspirin is the hardest item to store long-term as it is an acid and decays rapidly.
But other items like ibuprofen, NSAID’s and Tylenol can be stored much longer. Diarrheal drugs would also serve well in a barter supply inventory, as well as antihistamine drugs. And don’t forget about the kids. Benadryl, cough syrups and drops, as well as the meds mentioned above in liquid form, will be very valuable for those with sick children.
Another overlooked area for barter supplies, as well as for your personal preps, is construction material. Screws, nails, and fasteners of all variety should be stored. You may have to repair your own home or build small structures for any reason. Having fasteners and lumber stored away will see you through that. And, you’ll be able to barter those items should it come to it. Rolls of plastic sheeting, duct tape, wire, nuts, and bolts are all things to consider. And sometimes they’re really easy to get. I bought a full five-gallon bucket of screws and nails of every imaginable type at a yard sale for five bucks!
Paper products are worth storing as well, not only for your personal convenience but as trade goods. Of course, toilet paper comes immediately to mind, and you could probably fulfill every barter you enter into with it. But don’t forget paper towels, plates, disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, and even good old fashion copy paper and several boxes of cheap pens. Remember, when this happens, whatever it is, there will be no store to run to. Every time I go to the hardware store, I grab a handful of construction pencils and add them to the purchase. They could come in very handy. Oh, and don’t forget trash bags!
A couple of times a year we go through the closets and take out clothes we no longer wear. Instead of tossing them out or donating them to charity, I package them and store them away. In the future I may need them again, or, I may be able to trade that old pair of jeans.
Shoes are another item I do not throw away unless they are completely worn out. Shoes will be in very high demand. If you have kids and it feels like you’re buying them new shoes every other week because their feet are growing so fast, save those old ones. Imagine how people will have children with no shoes because few people buy one or two sizes ahead of time.
Shoes, or the lack of, will be a significant problem for people. Most of the footwear made today cannot stand up to the type of use people will put them through when they go from driving wherever they’re going to walking. And this doesn’t have to be a grid down situation. Video of 9/11 showed many people carrying their fancy dress shoes when they had to walk out of Manhattan. You should store quality footwear for yourself and family and keep those old ones for trade.
Clothing for growing kids will also become scarce. Having the older clothes, your kids grew out of will give you something to either trade with or to offer as a charity to those that need it. And do not underestimate the value of charity. A lot of goodwill can be gained from your community if you’re the one offering clothes and shoes to kids without them.
Food will obviously be a barter item. But think outside the box here. Spices were worth more than their weight in gold in the past for a reason. People will be eating bland diets and spices will really help with that. Not to mention many have medicinal qualities as well. Salt is easy to store and will be universally needed. I store five-gallon buckets full of it. Just don’t add two absorbers or it’ll turn into a block. You can still crush it back up but save yourself the trouble. Coffee and tea will be in very high demand. They are currently cheap to get and easy to store. Add in sugar, and powdered creamer stored properly, and you’ll be the Starbucks of the apocalypse.
On the topic of food, consider canning supplies. Not just jars and lids as they are essential, but also canning salt, pickling mixes, baking soda (this should be stored in quantity as it has so many uses), baking powder, yeast and cooking oils, and lard. Vinegar is another item that is cheap and easy to store. Buy it by the gallon and put it away. Aside from its use in preserving food, it has many others, so save a lot of it. People will seek all of these, yourself included.
Now for some of the more random items. Condoms! Yes, the good old rubber. In a crisis, people are going to do what people are going to do. Hell, it’s a fun way to pass the time. But unwanted babies may not be part of that equation, and people will want condoms. Reading glasses in various magnifications will also be needed. These are cheap to buy now but will become priceless later as any of us who need them knows.
Sewing supplies will be universally sought after. Everyone will be mending clothes that before they would have just thrown away. Stock rolls of thread, color isn’t terribly important as people just won’t care, as well as boxes of needles. Add in straight pins and some buttons of various sizes, and you’re on your way.
Boxes of matches will also have value.
So will bottles of butane for filling people’s lighters in trade. Candles and lantern mantels and wicks will be worthy trade items if you have space and money, store lantern fuel, both white gas, and lamp oil. Kerosene will also be worth storing. And don’t forget batteries. Everyone and I mean everyone, will be looking for them. Just make sure you have plenty for yourself.
The last item I’ll mention here is cheap water filters like the Sawyer Mini. They are relatively cheap and clean water will be an issue for absolutely everyone. One of these cheap filters would be among your most valuable trade items. After every natural disaster, more people die from polluted water than from the disaster itself. Having these on hand to give to your friends, neighbors, and family as well as a trade item will make you a very popular person.
There is no definitive list of barter goods. As you’ve seen here, the possibilities are limitless and only confined by your imagination. Setting up a barter supply doesn’t have to be expensive. Just add an item or two every time you go to the store. In no time you’ll be on your way to a healthy supply of in-demand goods.