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No cash kept on premises: Perth tradies trade jobs for beers

One of Perth’s worst kept secrets was never meant to be a secret in the first place.

When John Davis and Frank Karmaker kicked off The Original Perth Beer Economy Facebook page after necking a few of beers a couple of years ago, it was public, open to one and all.

But after a spate of some pretty aggressive spamming, the page was forced to go incognito.

“We then found out that once you get over 2,500 members, you can’t switch back,” Matthew Smith, one of the page’s administrators, told 96FM.

But despite being a secret, unsearchable, invitation-only group, the Perth Beer Economy has still managed to attract almost 100,000 members.

But there was a problem.

“People were asking for trades and it was just clogging up the page,” Mr Smith said.

So the admins kicked off a new group dedicated solely to local tradies and business owners.

And yes, the currency is still booze only.

Mr Smith said business owners are only allowed to post to OPBE Tradies what services they offer, no business names, and members looking for that service can engage with the owner directly.

“The person can come back and say ‘yeah, I can see what you want done – couple of cartons of beer and I’ll come and do it for you’.”

In beer terms, Mr Smith says that while every job is different, a carton will generally get you about an hours’ worth of work.

He recalled how one member had a quote for more than $1000 to get a tree cut down, but after contacting a tree lopper through OPBE Tradies, got the job done for four cartons of beer.

“…and they’re all properly insured,” Mr Smith said.

The philosophy behind the page was simple.

“You’d go on a Saturday and you would help your mate out… at the end of it, you share a beer.”

This idea was put to the test a few months ago when the sister of a woman suffering from breast cancer had posted to the page that one of her dying wishes was to be able to play in the garden with her daughter.

Mr Smith said that 30 or 40 people turned up over the course of a couple weekends with donations of pavers, grass, a gazebo, reticulation and, of course, their time.

“Me and a couple of the admins went down there on the Saturday and brought a couple cartons of beer down for everyone to say thanks for helping… I mean, people donated sausages, someone else brought a barbeque so they could cook them on… it really was mateship,” he said.

“It’s not just about selling your shit for a couple of beers, to us it’s become a lot more than that.”

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