Businesses turn to bartering system to offset costs during pandemic

TACOMA - The stream of take out at Moctezuma’s in Tacoma is keeping the lights on inside.

Owner Bernie Garcia is trying to keep his four Mexican restaurants alive after being forced to furlough 300 of his 400 employees.

“The world is going to be pre-Covid and then post-Covid it’s a whole new world,” Garcia said.

The pandemic is drying up cash flow, a much-needed resource. So for now, Garcia is bartering with other businesses on a platform called BizX to offset some of his costs.

“If you don’t have cash but you have BizX trade dollars it’s just like cash,” Garcia said.

BizX was born and created on a couch in Belltown right after Sept. 11.

“You trade what you have and get what you need,” Co-founder Bob Bagga said.

Bagga says the kind of exchange he is promoting is even more crucial in a devastated economy. You could think of it as digital currency and and a lifeline for especially small businesses, he said.

Take for example a restaurant. It could be used to barter tables or chairs for something else they need.

"They got to have PPE and protective shields. All restaurants need disposable menus so it’s almost like you have to spend money right now to stay in business,” Bagga said.

Moctezuma’s is using BizX to finish a renovation.

“We’ve used BizX for the ceiling, new ceiling design, electricians, masonry as well,” Garcia said.

Around 7,000 clients mostly across the West coast are bartering on BizX, it’s become a family of businesses building each other up.

“You have to find ways to survive but not only survive but to thrive,” Garcia said.

Garcia says he plans on expanding delivery and take out options and he’s also selling Margarita cocktails to go.