ABQ business operation runs without money

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – How does a free haircut sound? Maybe someone to run your errands for you? A website in Albuquerque has set up an exchange system, allowing people to offer services for free, and get some in return.

It’s called ABQ Hours. The whole idea is to take money out of the picture and encourage people to help each other. The website serves as a host for people to share music, services, learn crafts, even get free haircuts.

“Everybody has something to offer,” said ABQ Hours Organizer, Jamie Phillips. “Everybody has time, not everybody has money.”

And it’s that idea that ABQ Hours is based on. Modeled after a time bank, it operates online.

Organizers hosted a free exchange this weekend to spread the word. People can sign up to offer and provide a stockpile of services. They can find everything from bike repair, gardening, to guitar lessons. But there’s no money involved.

“There are a lot of needs that we can meet without throwing who’s got enough money to do this or that into the equation,” Phillips explained.

Everybody’s time is valued the same. So, if one person cuts hair for a half-hour, that person earns a half-hour to spend on anything else offered on the site.

When asked about safety concerns, Phillips said “it’s all up to you, what your comfort level dictates. If you are comfortable with going to a stranger’s house and having an exchange then go ahead, and if you don’t maybe you can arrange to meet in a public place.”

New members must attend an orientation where safety is addressed. To become a member, an applicant’s references must check out.

There’s also a rating system. So when someone is involved in an exchange, a reputation is built based upon how someone rates the person.

The mission is to inspire the community, and build relationships.

“Whether or not its something you would think is really silly or not worth a lot,” said Phillips, “for someone that might be lonely or just needs somebody to prompt them to do things, that really could have an immense value.”

So far, ABQ Hours has about 70 members in Albuquerque. The next orientation is Tuesday evening.

Organizers do have a suggested membership fee of $25 a year to help keep up with web-hosting and event expenses. There are similar websites in cities like Santa Fe and Seattle.

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