Karen Brown put a new spin on one of the oldest business models in the world, bartering, when the former sales executive and her husband, Kevin, founded the Hudson Barter Exchange. “We learned about barter exchanges from a family member, and we were fascinated with the idea of a third-party facilitator for companies that want to barter what they have for what they need,” Brown says. “It was a perfect fit for us; we had the capital, and we decided to invest in ourselves.”
Now in its 10th year of operation, the Elmsford-based retail barter exchange connects more than 600 local businesses (from solopreneurs to some of the region’s biggest service providers) to trade goods and services. The company has experienced exponential annual growth, increasing trading volume 35 percent in the last year alone, expecting to surpass $3 million in trading volume for 2017.
Brown says her success comes down to her commitment to integrity. “Being gregarious and a strong networker has helped, but I find that the key to everything is being upfront and honest about what you can do and then delivering on your promise,” she says.
That honesty has also led to Brown serving as the current trustee of Tarrytown. “My two roles aren’t too different,” she says. “My job is to represent the best interests of my fellow residents and members of the exchange.”