A frequent question I’ve had since organising them is what is the actual process of a Clothes Swap? Do we line all the clothes up? Do you swap per number of clothes contributed? Do you pay to come? Do we monitor what people are bringing?
These are all good questions and today I thought I’d cover how to run & organise a clothes swap so that those of you who don’t have one near by can get one up and going (Brisbane friends, this one is for you).
I’ve heard about lots of different swaps being run differently so today I am just going to talk about how we run ours and how that works out. It started informally as a joint measure with my friend Heidi and we’ve since run two or three a year.
Clothes swapping is a lot simpler than you might think.
Find a suitable location – we have been through a variety of locations due to parking, no wet weather option and have finally found a good hall to use. This requires a gold coin donation from everyone who attends for hire but makes it much easier for people to come along, get an easy park and not have to cancel due to rain.
Once you have a location to use then you just need people to come along. An open facebook event is a great way for you to invite your friends and them to invite their friends. Before you know it you’ll have 20 or so people. If you mention there’s free clothes involved – more people are likely to come along!
Now, once you have your location and some friends – all you need is some stuff to swap. Initially I was worried that some people might not bring a fair amount of things to swap but we’ve found that people are most often bringing more than they’re taking home. My favourite thing about clothes swap is bringing all those unwanted clothes I have and knowing that someone else will be taking them home!
While we mostly swap kids clothes (because most of the people attending our swaps are parents) womens, mens and other household items (towels, toys, books, saucepans) are also brought along.
Lots of people think we swap on a barter system such as “Hey, I’ve got this little baby hat will anyone swap me a pair of shoes for it?”.
We simply ask everyone to drop their items into the appropriate pile (baby, kids, maternity, women, mens etc) and wait till the set start time to let everyone rummage through and take out as they please. There is no monitoring or limiting what people take and while there is a small temptation to fight people for things all our swaps have been relaxed and peaceful. At our last swap many people sat around the edge of the pile and asked what others were searching for – looking for things for not only themselves but a person nearby. I had lots of little sweet baby boy things dropped into my lap.
If your children are trying your patience this is a great place to offload them
The quality of items brought to the swap varies but for the most part I have always brought home a collection of nice-new-to-us things that we can enjoy. And it’s always funny when I meet up with a girlfriend and she’s like “hey, those were my pants!”.
The only difficulty we have found with our swaps is that we always have WAY more clothes left over than what people take home. People begin to leave and then most often the last few people are left hauling huge bags to a local charity shop. We have finally decided that we need to get ourselves together to invite a charity to collect the clothes for a homeless shelter or similar and will hopefully have that implemented before our next planned swap in Brisbane (in October).