Set up Swap: It’s Like Shopping Without Money

2016-01-20 18.20.45Open your closet. Let’s get real. How many items in there are you actually wearing? If you are like me, there are still a few pieces hanging out from the 80’s. So when my friend Meg invited me to a clothing swap at her residence, I thought “what’s a clothing swap?”. And then I thought, “no way – there will be nothing there to fit me”. And then I thought “oh goodness, I don’t want people to see the junk in my closet”. Meg shared her invite on Instagram and it explained that a clothing swap was an opportunity to freshen up your wardrobe by swapping items with friends. I actually wanted to go, and then realized it was on a day in which I had a previous engagement. So I missed my opportunity. But then my other friend Mollie, offered to host the next event and I immediately marked it on my calendar so I wouldn’t miss out again.

Clothes_Swap_Meg_Davenport_shoe_showoffSwapnista, Meg Davenport, previously worked for a public library and was tasked with setting up a new program that would encourage community involvement. Her original idea was a prom dress swap. (this was pre- Cinderella project, so you know that Meg has big ideas). Her director felt that it might not be just right, so a clothing swap was the chosen project. A clothing swap is a way to get together with friends in a party type atmosphere and share resources, in this case, clothing. Meg says that she has always been the kind of gal who enjoys garage sales and a clothing swap was just a natural progression of the garage sale idea. She figures that if she finds something that she likes and it doesn’t work, rather than pitching it, she will put it aside for the next clothing swap. She says that sometimes she is looking particular items for a one-time event and she may not want to make a big investment. A swap allows for the opportunity to search for items that might fit the bill.

Clothes_Swap_groupThe idea definitely resonated with Mollie Corbett, who attended Meg’s swap. Mollie offered to host a second clothing swap in a larger location and added housewares to the mix. Mollie recognized that Meg’s idea was something that she wanted to share with her circle of friends. Mollie started a private Facebook group and extended invitations to the event that she dubbed “Shreve Swap. The idea is simple. Invite your friends to start looking through their closets and homes. Bring clean, gently used, trade-desired clothing or houseware items that need new homes and start swapping. For each item that you bring to the swap, you can take something home in its place.

I decided the night before Shreve Swap to start looking for items to trade. I opened that scary place I like to call my closet. I hate to admit that I have clothing in my closet from sizes 4 – 24. During this process, although I was trying to find things to swap, I ended up finding some hot little numbers that I had forgotten AND I was surprised to find they actually fit. I finally settled on 25 pieces to take to Shreve Swap.

Clothes_Swap_Katy_Larsen_Hat_Find“It’s like you get to go shopping without spending any money”. – Katy Larsen

As I arrived, the racks were starting to be filled and I was a little nervous about displaying my clothes. Would my stuff be good enough? Would someone judge me for being the person who brought that ugly orange shirt? Pretty soon, I figured out that no one cared where things came from. It was fun to be able to refresh their wardrobe for free. I quickly started eyeing all of the things on display. I had 25 swaps and I couldn’t wait. My friend Katy Larsen said it best that night “It’s like you get to go shopping without spending any money”. She was so right. I left the swap with 3 scarfs, a dress (new with tags), and two blouses. I decided that I didn’t want to take home 25 items and so I left the rest of my items for Mollie to donate to local charitable organizations.

So you don’t know Mollie or Meg, and didn’t get an invite to Shreve Swap? Start your own swap. Here are some suggestions for hosting your own Clothing Swap:

Who to invite: Don’t limit your guest list. More people means more range in selections and sizes. You want lots of options. You’d be surprised to know that many of your friends have sizes in their closet that they haven’t worn in years. 

What: Decide on the type of swap you will host: Clothing, Accessories, Housewares, Books, Hats, Candles, Baby Items

When: Schedule a date that works for at least 3-5 people. Poll your friends before setting the date in stone. You may invite as many as you like, but if only 2 people show up, the selection won’t be as diverse. Schedule a date that is well in advance to give your guests an opportunity think about their swap items.

Where: Determine where you will host the event. You will need some room, depending on the size of the swap.

Display: You will want to have hanging racks for displaying items. Check out Pinterest for ways to create your own portable diy clothing racks. Ask your guests to bring hangers for their pieces, as well as donations of hangers for sharing. You will also want to have table space for other tradable items.

Clothes_Swap_browsingEncourage your friends to clear out their clutter. Give reminders about special events in town. Is it near a certain holiday? Make a suggestion to bring items that are in or off-season. Something that may seem silly might make for a great costume item.

Keep it informal. Don’t make too many rules. With the right mix of people, a light and fun atmosphere makes for a pleasant swap.

Wine and Cheese: It wouldn’t be a party without the snacks. Ask guests to bring snack items to share. Chips and Dips, or wine and cheese.

Help: Ask a few of your guests to help with set up and clean up.

After swap: Decide in advance and have a plan for the clothes that don’t get swapped. You might set out an “I’m going to host the next swap” sign up. Make sure your guests have an option of taking their items back home or leaving it behind for a next swap or you may want to give the option of taking all of the remaining items to a local charitable organization. Remember, if they leave it behind, you will have to deal with the items.

Mollie Corbett said that the power of the swap is in the variety and multiplicity of the items being swapped. Corbett pointed out that a clothing swap is a great way to rid yourself of items in your wardrobe that have become a burden. Be honest. How many items do you hang on to in the hopes of that “one day” when you will fit in it? I have items that still have price tags on them. “If you haven’t worn it in over a year to let it go”. She says when she is looking through her closet “If I wouldn’t pick it up off the rack again, it goes in the swap”.

Meg says: “If it isn’t improving your life, throw it in the swap pile”

Cltohes_Swap_group2

Suggestions for attending a Clothing Swap:

  • Bring clean, gently-used trade-worthy stuff.
  • Meg says “If anything in your closet is not improving your life, throw it in the swap pile. Take a critical eye of your wardrobe. Notice when things aren’t fitting well. Set up a swap bag or box near your closet and pitch things in that you want to bring to the swap”.
  • When attending the swap, leave your feelings at the door when it comes to your items. Someone may pick up your item and make silly comments about the style or color. Don’t take it personal.
  • See something that you like? Pick it up, you might not get the chance again.
  • Didn’t swap it this time? Save it for next time. Different invited eyes might like it on the next go-round.

A swap is a great way to clean out your closet, share things with friends that might otherwise go unused, and a way to spend happy time with friends –  a win for everyone involved. The best swap will be one that you walk away feeling like you just went shopping without spending a dime. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your swap.

Hosting a swap? Tell me about it in the comments below!

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

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