Frequently Asked Questions

So many people have asked about Free Swap Rules , so I wrote an entry specifically describing them here.  Thanks for reading it so we’re all on the same page and there are no misunderstandings.

1.  I’M IN WEIGHT WATCHERS AND JUST LOST A LOT OF WEIGHT.  I HAVE A BUNCH OF XL CLOTHES TO SWAP, BUT I NEED A SIZE 8.  WHICH SWAP DO I GO TO?    -or-     I HAVE A TON OF  SIZE 2 CLOTHES FROM BEFORE I HAD KIDS, BUT AFTER KIDS I’M NOW A SIZE 10.  WHICH SWAP DO I GO TO?

I suggest your first swap be an all-size swap.  That way other women will swoop in on your clothes with gusto.  It’s fun to see someone else leave with your stuff, and to see the thrill on their faces.  Plus you can pick up some new-to-you clothes in your own size.  You can then go to a swap that specializes in your size range, as these cater and focus on things that specifically fit you, and you have a better selection of right-sized clothes to choose from.  If you want to start swapping ASAP, and there are no all size swaps in the near future, please bring any jewelry, purses, shoes, scarves etc. to your current sized swap  - but save your too large/ too small clothes for an all size swap.  This helps the coordinator when cleaning up clothes.  With so many women, we want to make sure we’re not overwhelmed with whole wardrobes that are not in our size!  Thanks for your understanding. Check the Other Swaps page to find the right swap for you.

2.  DO I NEED TO RSVP?  CAN I BRING A FRIEND, OR DO THEY NEED TO RSVP ON THEIR OWN?

It all depends on venue space.  Some venues are small and can only fit so many people, so need to take RSVP’s.  Others are larger and have plenty of space, so don’t need RSVP’s.  Most stuff/gift swaps ask for RSVP’s because all women swappers plus kind men and teens are invited. Each swap group decides if they need RSVP’s, so check with them individually if in doubt. To find swap groups in other sizes and in different areas of town, click here.

3.  CAN I BRING MY KIDS?

Check Other Swaps to see if the ones you are interested in are child friendly.  Some venues are not childproofed or have insurance that states no children.   Some allow contained babies who are cared for (ie not allowed to scream/cry, but are comforted when needed so that the swapping atmosphere is fun for everyone).  Kids clothing swaps and family swaps may allow kids to attend with their parent/guardian if they are supervised.  Some women’s clothing swaps allow well behaved older grade school girls.  Most women’s swaps allow teens if they fit the size range of the clothes (but check to make sure).  Stuff and Gift swaps are for women, kind men and teens only (no children) since breakable items and sharp tools are on the floor – leave your children younger than teens home with a sitter so you can enjoy finding items for them!

4.  I CAN’T MAKE THE DATE OF MY SIZE SWAP.  IS THERE ANOTHER SWAP I CAN GO TO?

I’m glad you asked:)  Since we are all volunteers, we choose our swap date by the times/days we are available, plus the times/days our venue is available.  There are now many swaps (ie small, medium, med/large, family, all-size, stuff, gift) to choose from, so hopefully they’ll be a time/day that will work for you.  Another option would be to start a swap in your area so it would be on a day and time that’s convenient for you.  Check this site under  the “Other Swaps” link, or under the “About Swaps” link and use the drop down menu to find the “Start a FREE swap” link.

5.  I’D LIKE A SWAP IN MY AREA.  HOW DO I START ONE?

Another great question!  With the Tribune article, the Oregonian article,  the KOIN TV coverage, the Columbian article, the Omnibus article, and the KATU TV coverage, we’ve been inundated with new enthusiastic swappers.  Now would be a GREAT time for women who love clothes to start a swap in their area.   It is really easy to do.  All you need is:

A.  a love to get/give free clothes (or stuff)

B.  a venue that will let you swap for free that can hold 30 people or so (if you’re just starting out, meeting with friends in your home while you build up your swap list should suffice).

C.  a time and date

D.  an email or phone number where swappers can contact you.

E.  a promise that everything will be free at your swaps (no admission charge, no money exchanged), and that the leftover clothing shoes accessories and other remainders will be donated to organization(s) that will give them away for free.  If you need suggestions of organizations who will pick up, let me know – I’ve compiled a list:)

F.  go to a few swaps or check out  http://www.over40fashions.com/site/FREE_swaps%21.html  to see how they work so you know what to do.  Or check  the “About Swaps” link and use the drop down menu to find the “Start a FREE swap” link. When you’ve got your Free swap information and details worked out, such as size, venue, email etc. let me know and I’ll add you to our ‘Other Swap’ volunteer list.

6.  WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE LEFTOVER CLOTHING, SHOES, ACCESSORIES, AND OTHER STUFF?

All clothing, shoes, accessories, stuff etc. are donated to organizations that will give them away for free.  Some of the organizations that have benefited include  assorted church’s free clothing closets, FISH, women’s and teen’s recovery homes and shelters, Human Solutions, Birch Community Services, Rape Crisis, Snow Cap, and the PTA clothes closet. We also have members who will take remainders home with them and put them on a table marked ‘free’ in front of their house so their neighbors can have some fun, or post them on http://www.freecycle.org. If you are an organization who gives clothing, household items, or other items away for free, and would like to be added to our list of organizations we call to pick up remainders after our swaps, please contact me.

7. HOW DO I CONTACT ANOTHER SWAP COORDINATOR SO I CAN GO TO HER SWAP TOO?  or  I’D LIKE TO HELP AT A SWAP IN MY SIZE/MY NEIGHBORHOOD.

Womens sizes 0-10X, kids clothes, men’s clothes, stuff, gifts, and more are being swapped. Check out our link to ‘Other Swaps‘ to find a swap in your size/neighborhood.  You can also contact the swap coordinator to let her/him know you’d like to help.  We especially like it when people help us bag up/clean up after the swap, and someone to arrange for and oversee pickup by a non-profit, agency, or person who will give away the remainders, not sell them.

8.  CAN I GO TO MORE THAN ONE SIZE SWAP?

You can go to swaps in your own size, as well as the all-size swaps.  Check out the link to ‘Other Swaps‘.

9.  IS THERE A MEN’S CLOTHING SWAP?  IS THERE A WOMEN’S PLUS SIZE SWAP?

Men now have their own private room at the Sandy Family Swaps! Men have their own area at the Gresham Family swaps. Women’s all-size swaps and family swaps include plus sizes.  Some of the all-size swaps are now creating a men’s pile, so women shopping for their families can also pick up mens clothes.  Contact the all size swap in your area to see if they include men’s clothes.  If you’d like to start a plus size, mens clothing swap, techie swap, or other free swap, please DO!!!  Here’s how:  http://www.over40fashions.com/site/FREE_swaps%21.html  Then let me know all the details and I’ll add your swaps to my Other Swaps list, so like-minded swappers can find you.  I just need details such as sizes to be swapped, venue, email etc. let me know I’ll add you to our ‘Other Swap’ volunteer list.

10.  TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE STUFF AND GIFT SWAPS.

Early in December we have a free gift swap.  This is where you bring items you have laying around the house that are in great, giftable condition.  Stuff that is clean, has all the parts, and someone would be happy to get as a holiday gift.  This is the place to bring that chess set or other toys in like-new condition, books and computer games in working order, the fluffy new towels that are the wrong color for your decor,  the matching mitten and scarf set aunt Louise gave you, the crystal bowl (or duplicate tool set) you got from your ex-husband, techie stuff, clean pet items, etc.  This swap is open to all kind and respectful women, men, and teens.  Since everything is on the floor in rows, this is not a safe place for children.  Please leave your non-teen children home with a sitter.  At Gift swaps, women, kind men, and teens can choose gifts for their children or siblings without the child finding it first!

Around Earth Day in the spring, we have a stuff swap.  This is like an upscale garage sale (except everything is free:).  You bring stuff that is clean, in working condition, and all the pieces are there. But you can also bring jewelry (save clothes for a clothing swap), books music and computer games in working condition, kitchen supplies, bath and bedding, decorative items, washed and dried garden pots, used tools, techie stuff, clean pet items, and kids toys that are clean (no oil/grease/dirt that could transfer to the floor), that kind of thing*.   Stuff swaps are open to all ‘kind and respectful’ women, men, and teens.  Since everything is on the floor in rows, this is not a safe place for children or exciteable kids/people that might race around and trip over glassware or power tools.    No items that are too big to fit into the backseat of a car.

* If you’ve got items that aren’t in good shape – broken, missing pieces, etc – you can offer them on www.freecycle.org  and someone will come pick them up from you for free:)

To keep swaps fun for everyone, there is No pre-swapping!  Swappers wait until all participants have their stuff laid out and the swap coordinator says it’s time to start. It is imperative that all items are CLEAN and not dirty, greasy, crumbly, etc. because we have no way to clean the floor when we’re done.

I will post details on the yearly Stuff and Gift swaps about a month before each swap on this site under ‘the NEXT (NE PDX) Swap!’.   There may be a coupon/ticket attached with guidelines for entry to the stuff/gift swap to help the swap move smoothly… it’s important that everyone be on the same page so we have fun and not mass chaos.

Since the mission of free swaps is to get and give free stuff, by coming to a swap you are agreeing to our mission.  No re-sellers, ebay sellers, etc, are invited to our swaps.  This is for the fun, entertainment, enjoyment, and good Karma of people who understand and appreciate the giving spirit of the word ‘free’:)  People who come to these swaps have found that as they have given freely of what they no longer need, they have received freely cool new stuff!  Plus, remainders are donated to organizations that will also give the stuff away for free, so your giving is multiplied.

11.  I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!  I LOVE CLOTHES AND HAVE OFTEN WISHED FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS WHERE I CAN TRADE THE STUFF I’M TIRED OF FOR NEW STUFF!

Me too!!!  I love being around thrifty, kind, generous, fun people.  I love getting stuff for free.  I love the chance to clean out my closet of items I never wear and get new stuff that I love to wear.  I love the happy banter that takes place at swaps, and the community that we are building.  I love saving money and recycling usable things.

12.  WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG SOMETIMES TO GET AN ANSWER BACK?

All swap coordinators are volunteers and have outside jobs and families.  We do this for fun and no one gets paid.  So sometimes when you write it may take a few days to get back to you.  Thanks for your patience in this.  We usually respond within 2 days, however if for some reason we haven’t responded after a week, please re-send your message.

13.  IS THERE HANDICAPPED ACCESS?  

Access depends on the venue.  The Tigard and the Sandy swaps are both Handicapped accessible. The 0-5 SE Peoples Food Co-op and the all size NECC locations are both in upstairs meeting rooms so are not handicapped accessible.  The 6-12 swap in NE is at the Presbyterian Church of Laurelhurst is on the main floor, and we’ve had a few women on crutches that have made it in just fine.   I’m not sure about the other swaps, since I’ve not been to them – email them and ask.

14.  WHY IS A SWAP LISTED AS ‘MEDIUM’ WHEN IT’S SIZE 6-12?  WHY IS ONE LISTED AS SIZE 10-14 – THAT’S PARTIALLY MEDIUM AND PARTIALLY LARGE?

Swap coordinators want to swap in sizes that WE can fit into – that makes it fun for us, as well as fun for like-sized female swappers.  I started a size 6-10 swap because those are the sizes I wore at the time, but added size 12 since sometimes 12 is considered medium.  Amy Alice fits sizes 10-14, so that’s the swap size she wants to host.  Other swap hostesses have chosen all-size or family swaps because they have families.  If you’d like to host a custom designed swap in YOUR size, please do so  - and let me know so I can post it!

15.  IS THERE A SWAP FOR KIDS CLOTHING?

Yes!  Kids grow so fast!  Plus, if you are pregnant PLEASE come take the baby clothes at the kids swaps, even if you don’t have anything to swap.  There are always tons of baby clothes – and lets face it – you’ll be returning many of them (and the new stuff you buy) when your kids grow out of them:)  This is also a place you can bring outgrown toys, baby slings, mobiles, car seats, and more.  Check out Other Swaps to see the kids swap venues and family swaps.  Also contact the all size swaps to see if they have a kids section and/or a quarterly kids swap that they run in conjunction with their all size swap.

16.  IS THERE A MATERNITY SWAP?  I’VE GOT TONS OF MATERNITY CLOTHES I DON’T NEED ANYMORE.  -or-  I’M PREGNANT AND CAN’T FIT INTO ANYTHING!  MATERNITY CLOTHES ARE SO EXPENSIVE!

We’ve heard your plea’s … and are pleased to announce that Volunteer Swap Coordinator Sara Rose has started a maternity swap at  studio@zenana-spa.com   Also, Diana of the SW all size swap, Cindy and Barbara of the Tigard all size Swap, Amber of the Gresham Family Swap, and Susana of the Sandy Family Swap are all accepting maternity clothes!  Women can bring maternity clothes, but “shop” in another size, or bring clothes in any size and “shop” in the maternity section.

17. I’M DOWNSIZING AND BRINGING A TON OF STUFF BUT DON’T WANT TO TAKE MUCH HOME – IS THAT O.K.?    – or -    I NEED A LOT OF CLOTHES FOR MY NEW JOB, BUT I DON’T HAVE MUCH TO SWAP – IS THAT O.K.?

Yes to both questions.  Some women clear out whole wardrobes to swap their first time, then just bring a few items after that.  Some of us have way too much stuff that we don’t need anymore. Some of us are pretty thin (at least in the clothing department:).  You can bring a piece of jewelry and leave with a whole wardrobe or visa-versa. The point of the swap is to grab what you don’t want/use/need, clean it up, and bring it to swap for free.  We all have fun and find new stuff we like.  Be courteous and generous, and come prepared to play.

18.  HOW DO I GET NOTIFICATIONS FOR THE SWAP(S) THAT INTEREST ME?

You can sign up to be notified of swap(s) that interest you in one of three ways:

1. You can also sign up to ONLY get information about your chozen size/area swap by going to the Other Swaps page, and then finding your swap(s) listed there.  In the short description of each swap is a way to contact that particular swap coordinator.  Some swaps have facebook pages, some take your name/ email and send an email blast to you before their swap, others have a yahoogroups site, and some post their information on the Swap Positive site (you can find them in the Category by size/type, and in the Tags by location).  Since we are all volunteers, we all have found ways that work for us to communicate best.

2. You can subscribe to emails for all Swap Positive correspondance on this very website –  click on the sign me up! button under Email Subscription.   This way you can find out about any new swaps in your size/area, plus you can tell your friends about swaps in their/size area, thus spreading free frugal fun:)

3. You can check the Swap Positive website weekly, or at least the first week of each month to read the blog roll and see details about that months swaps.  I give a summary of the months upcoming swaps (that I’ve been notified of) around the first of each month.  You can also check out the categories to the right and go straight to the category of your choice, and the Tags to find swaps by area of town and/or venue location.

If you don’t see a swap in your area, size, or interest, why not start one?  Here’s how. Then tell me about it and I’ll add you to our Other Swaps to help connect interested swappers to your swap.  If we all give what we can (including our time/talents/outgrown stuff) and we all appreciate the gifts given (by being kind, courteous, and grateful), we’ll ALL be a part of the change we wish to see.

19.  WHAT HAPPENED TO  PDXSWAP.COM?  WHY ISN’T THIS BLOG (SwapPositive.wordpress.com) CALLED PDXSWAP?

The idea for PDXSWAP came from Rae, who started the first size 0-5 petite swap at the Peoples Food Co-op in SE Portland (which has gone through a few swap hostesses and is still going on!).  Rae would hand out business cards to petite women whenever she saw them, her enthusiasm for making a positive difference contagious.  Rae asked her professional web designer friend, Angie, to create a website which she dubbed PDXSwap.com.  From there, I started the medium swap, and other women who wanted to swap but were not a size 0-5, started swaps in their own sizes, and in their own areas of town.

Rae moved out of the Portland area and passed along hosting of the 0-5 swap at Peoples Food Co-op.  Angie got really busy with work, travel, and a new baby, and with Rae gone, Angie opted to no longer pay for/operate pdxswap.com.

With PDXswap no longer, I felt the remaining and future free swappers needed a simple and easily accessible FREE place where we could get accurate and updated swap information. So I created the free Swap Positive blog …thank you wordpress:)

20. HOW CAN IT BE FREE?

Why not? If you get a building for free, bring clothes for free, and volunteer your time for free, why not have it ALL be free? Swaps take a LOT less time than a garage sale (swaps take about an hour), you end up getting some really good stuff to take home, and it’s tax-free! Plus think of the amount of time you save – since you are multi-tasking by clearing out clutter AND shopping for things you can use at the same time:) Example: I brought 2 bags of clothes and accessories I no longer needed recently, and came home with one bag of things that I love. As for value per volunteer hour, here’s an example of what I brought home from one hour of swapping :
a white cashmere v-neck sweater, flannel-lined jeans, 13 shirts, a cotton button front sweater, a Hanna Andersson wool button front sweater, red boots, leather sandles, and a silk scarf. Can you imagine the hundreds of dollars this would have cost me, even at a thrift store? As you can see, Free Swapping actually has a better return on investment than spending time sorting/marking/advertising your stuff, selling your stuff, and then going to the store and looking for bargains all day.

21. WON’T PEOPLE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE SWAPS?

We’ve only had to ban 3 people so far* from free swaps (*sadly, we’ve had to ban a few more people who’ve not followed the swap rules since this was last posted). Kind, generous people who are good stewards of what they have, and care about keeping usable items out of landfills, attend free swaps. Since the mission of Free Swaps is to get and give free stuff, by coming to a swap you are agreeing to our mission. No re-sellers, ebay sellers, or complaining/factious people are invited to our swaps. If a swap coordinator feels harrassed in any way, she has the right to ask the harrasser to leave.  Free Swaps are for the fun, entertainment, enjoyment, and good Karma of people who understand and appreciate the giving spirit of the word ‘free’. People who come have found that as they have given freely of what they no longer need, they have received freely cool new stuff! Plus remainders are donated to organizations that will also give the stuff away for free, so YOUR giving is multiplied.  Also, if a swapper starts to take stuff before the swap officially begins, those around her/him kindly say “We all wait until the hostess says ‘go’ before we take things.” Knowledge is power, and free swappers are thankful for the help especially if it’s their first swap and they are unsure what the protocall is. Check the Free swap rules so you know what to expect, and can help keep swaps running smoothly for ALL of us.

22. WHY CAN’T I CHARGE SOME MONEY SO I CAN MAKE A LITTLE, AND/OR RAISE MONEY FOR A WORTHY CHARITY?

Charging money is known as a sale, and raising money is known as a charity event. If you want to do a sale or charity event, that’s fine…but it’s not the same thing as a Free Swap:) Plus, by not messing with pricing and entry fees and all the usual falderall, it makes swapping a lot easier to run, so the host(esses) don’t get burned out. Since swaps are simple, and the volunteer work is easy (helping the hostess bag up afterwards, bringing an extra bag for remainders, offering to find and/or deliver the remainders to a charity who will give them away for free) swaps basically run themselves. It’s fun to give things to people without having them pay for it – it’s part of the ‘game’ of Free Swaps!

Also, women (and men and teens in the case of gift & stuff swaps) come to swaps with clean items in great condition, with the hope they can find a treat or two in return. If a re-seller takes all the ‘good’ stuff, then honest free swappers miss out on a part of why they came. Since the goal of Free Swaps is “if you get it for free, you give it away for free”, people who can’t live by those rules aren’t welcome at Free Swaps. Those who are looking for items to sell need to find them in places other than free swaps.

If you or someone you know would like to start a Free Swap at a community center, place of worship, senior center, library, etc., have them check out http://swappositive.wordpress.com/about/start-a-free-swap/ plus look around this site for more information.

23.  I CAN’T FIND WHAT I WANT AT SWAPS / I DON’T LIKE THE THINGS AT THIS SWAP (these comments were actually said to me by two people with their arms full of boxes/sacks filled to the brim with goodies they found at the swap!)

If you are looking for a specific item, go to your favorite store and buy it. And thank you for not coming back … the rest of us are busy playing and don’t want to take time out of our fun to listen to complainers!  However, if you see a way you’d like to help make swaps run smoother, please let the swap hostess know how you will volunteer to help.

24.  SWAPS HAVE REALLY GROWN!  HOW CAN I FIND JUST THE SWAPS I’M INTERESTED IN, INSTEAD OF WADING THROUGH THE MAIN FEED?

I’m so excited that free swaps are taking off! To make it easier to find just the particular swap you’re looking for, I’ve created catagories on the home page to the right.  Just click on the category, and you’ll see only posts in that particular size/interest!  If you want to hone in even more, (say you’re interested in all-size clothing, but only ones on the West side), then click on the all size swap category, and at the bottom of each post I’ve tagged them by area/location as well.  I’ve added a Search Button on the home page.  AND I’ve added a Tag cloud under the search button, so you can search by location and/or venue.  Thanks for your patience as I learn to make this site as easy to navigate as possible.

THANK YOU FOR BEING A PART OF THIS WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO RECYCLE, SAVE MONEY, AND HAVE FUN!

2 responses to “Frequently Asked Questions

  1. i have alot of small womens cloths as well as boys(sizes 6 to 12) But have no transportation all the way out to NE PDX. Aren’t there any coming up near the Beaverton/ Tigard area?

    • Hi Katy – there’s a swap in your area on the westside Thursday February 2nd. Check it out here for the small women’s size clothes. For kids clothes and other west side small and all-size swaps, check the Other Swaps page. Hope you can make it to one near you! If you’re looking for REAL convenience in a swap that covers everything YOU want, you could also start a swap – here’s how. See see videos of swaps in action, click here.

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