Marietta Daily Journal EAST COBB – When the air conditioner broke at east Cobb’s Cookies by Design in May as temperatures began to soar, owner Lisa Rish couldn’t afford to shell out extra money for costly repairs in this economy. So, she turned to the Kennesaw-based Barter Company as she previously had done when her oven, refrigerator, sink and grease trap needed to be fixed. The company ties a network of businesses together to barter their services with each other, which allows them to save money. “I didn’t have 500 plus dollars in cash to get it fixed and still be able to pay employees, taxes, bills or rent,” said Rish, who’s been using the Barter Company since 2001. “It’s very helpful when it’s something you have to have like an air conditioner.” The Barter Company’s network includes a variety of professionals, from lawyers and dentists to restaurant owners and house painters. Clients use barter dollars instead of cash in transactions. Businesses charge retail value for their goods and services in barter dollars, instead of selling them for reduced cash rates or having them go unsold. The Barter Company acts as a third-party records keeper. Barter Company President Ric Zampatti said business is up 15 percent this year. Founded in 1996, the company has 15 employees at offices in Kennesaw, Macon, Columbia, S.C., and the Gulf Coast of Florida. It has over 2,000 clients in the U.S., primarily in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. The Barter Company’s profit comes from charging a 7.5 percent brokerage fee of the total of each client’s trades every month, said Scott Stinnett, the company’s sales vice president. In this down economy, business owners are looking for ways to save money, the company said, and can find that they save more by bartering. For the past five years Susan Smelser, owner of the Book Worm bookstore on Marietta Street in Powder Springs, has traded with Barter Company clients for such things as pressure washing, landscaping and exterminating. She said it has been invaluable in saving her money to operate her store, which sells used books. “We’ve been able to save $60,000 to $70,000 out of our pockets,” Smelser said. “And new customers recommend the store to others.” Rish, who sells a variety of cookies from her store in the Providence Square shopping center on Roswell Road, said trades are based on barter dollars and not comparable services – though she has baked more than 60 cookies before in a barter. “But you’re excited because you can use this money in trade for something,” she said. For more information about the Barter Company, visit www.barterco.com.