Travel Blog

11 May

Gone Postal: The Whistler Underground

Barter, trade, whistler, gone postal, whistler blackcomb,


In the short time we have lived in Whistler we’ve slowly started to notice the two distinctly different economies running this place. One is the currency of cold, hard cash and plastic getchya-in-debt cards keeping local businesses in business; the other is a slightly more creative economy.

In the first currency each dollar is measured and accounted for and is often talked about in terms of room-nights, skier visits, monthly statements, and quarterly earnings. This is the type of currency that doesn’t require much more than you having access to it. It opens doors for great food, fun experiences, luxury accommodations, and whatever trinket you want to put on your mantle. In this economy, goods and services are bought and sold with no need for any prior relationship – it’s just business. Thankfully there are enough of these transactions to keep this little town ticking.

The second Whistler currency is creative, underground, and is policed by dirtbagger and millionaire alike. It’s a currency of relationship that barters in good and services where, very often, no money exchanges hands. This doesn’t mean you can get by in Whistler for free, but it does mean that shelling out your hard-earned green isn’t the only way. And by green, I mean money.

Some people call it the You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours Economy and it looks different at every corner. It might be an artist trading a canvas for a week of dog-sitting, a photographer being paid in bottles of wine, a writer trading copy for pastries, or a volunteer swapping her time for access to a sold-out Whistler event. This second Whistler economy is a people-helping-people currency of bartering and tradesies only accessed via relationship and community.  In a town knit together by relationships shred crews, it only makes sense that money isn’t the only form of currency.

But don’t get too excited just yet. If you’re going to live here you’re still going to need to work a job, collect a paycheque, pay your landlord, and scrape out a lifestyle with whatever you have left over. Yet, long-time locals tell me living here gets easier the longer you’re here.

And here is why: paying dues, showing up for your job, paying rent on the 1st of every month, not burning bridges, and just generally operating well in the economy of dollars and cents paves your future in the currency of bartering and relationships. And, just so ya know, Whistler doesn’t seem like the type of community where you build relationships so you can get something out of it. That’d be lame, but there are perks to being in a tight little community.

Want a free heli-drop for you and friend? Be a good neighbor. True story, it happened! Need a hook-up for this or that? Become known for your credibility and integrity…I bet it goes a long way. In Whistler it’s not one currency or the other, you’ll need both but odds are you’ll find the second is way better than the first!

Article source: