Steve McHugh and Antonio Palazzola have been trading for items their whole lives. Four years ago, their love of bartering lead them to open their own trading post, which only offers "cashless exchanges" for goods. Now they have a new reality series on A&E entitled Barter Kings, where they use their skills to trade up for items such as a speedboat and a pickup truck. I recently had the chance to speak with these traders about their show, debuting Tuesday, June 12 at 9 PM ET on A&E with Episode 1.01: No Cash, No Problem. Take a look at what they had to say.
It seems like you've both been in this business for quite some time. Was there a trade that started it all for you guys?
Antonio Palazzola: I've been doing this for a long time. Are you talking about way back when, or four years ago when Steve and I started a business?
All the way back then.
Antonio Palazzola: I think I was in middle school when I traded some plastic marbles for some glass marbles. I grew up the son of a junk man, so my dad collected everything you could possibly imagine. It was a lot easier to trade than to sell it.
In the premiere, you work up to some high-priced items, like a speedboat and a pickup truck. How complex do these trades have to get, when you're dealing with items that cost thousands of dollars?
Antonio Palazzola: Actually, the higher value they get, the easier they get. For some reason, people are willing to part with things that they can't sell, that are worth $4,000 to $6,000. They're more willing to part with those than the lower-priced items, for some reason. Nobody has cash, so it's difficult to sell a $5,000 item. That's just the way it is.
How creative do you have to get with your own services? Do you find yourself painting houses or things like that, to land some of these items?
Antonio Palazzola: There have been certain situations where we hit a roadblock, a dead-end. We can't trade an item, and we're trying to accomplish a goal, we'll go and knock on doors. We'll visit 10 businesses a day or make phone calls, door-to-door, Yellow Pages, old-school stuff.
Steve McHugh: Because it's our main business, we'll go above and beyond whatever we have to do to make it happen.
The show will hopefully strike up a newfound interest in bartering, having people climb through their rafters to find stuff to trade. Is there one fundamental tip you'd like to give to anyone who is starting out?
Antonio Palazzola: Have a starting item, and really get to know it. Once you post it, and get responses, know the items of whoever you're going to trade with, research their items. The main thing you definitely want to do is know the wholesale, retail, all the values of the items.
Do you think, as the show progresses, would you want to take it on the road, so to speak? Do you have any plan of how the show might evolve if you get another season?
Steve McHugh: We are on the road, man. Sometimes we drive 300 miles a day. But yeah, we want to go everywhere. I wouldn't mind going out of state. I'll take this anywhere I can take it, if the deal is right.
How do you think the show fits in with the A&E lineup? They have a very diverse lineup of shows.
Steve McHugh: We wanted to actually produce something. We wanted to bring something to America. People are having a hard time right now. The society is now, for the most part, cash-less, and people have stuff. They've accumulated stuff over the years. Just get up and try it. Try posting something on Craig's List in the Barter section, see if you get responses and see if you can make a trade. Don't be so concerned with overall value or perceived value, just get off your butt and do it and see what happens. You'd be amazed at some of the things people are willing to offer for trade. It's amazing. We're hoping to start the national trend.
Does it take just that first trade to really whet their appetite?
Antonio Palazzola: Absolutely. Once you get the first one down, it gets easier and easier.
Steve McHugh: But you have to be patient and persistent, because you're going to run into roadblocks. You're going to have rejection. That might happen for a month or two months, and if you just give up, you'll never know what the result is going to be.
How long of a run do you have for this season? Are there some notable trades that you can tease for us?
Antonio Palazzola: It's 13 episodes, and they'll run back-to-back for the first five weeks, I believe. There are some amazing things. These guys traded a rock for a car. That one was crazy. When you see the rock, you'll understand why. Some of the outcomes are amazing. We've run into some characters. The people we're trading with have us laughing so bad. We run into some great people.
Steve McHugh: You'll really enjoy them.
That's my time. Thanks so much, guys.
Antonio Palazzola: Thank you.
Steve McHugh: Awesome. Thank you.