What to bring to free swaps?

There’s been some discussion amongst swappers as to what is acceptable to bring to free clothing swaps. As long as the item is clean and in good condition, we’ll accept it at a swap (unless the swap specifically says ‘2 year old or less modern styles only’…but I’ve not heard of a free swap that is doing that…yet). The reason I say that, is just because I find a color/style loathsome on ME, there always seems to be someone who has been searching for just that item for themselves and looks fabulous in it.

Here’s a few examples of people who come to swaps:

1. There’s a lady with a tiny waist who can’t find current styles that fit her, but LOVES searching the swaps for those 80’s pants with tiny higher waists. She especially is always looking for jeans in that style.

2. My teenage daughter seems to always be dragging home clothes that I think ‘what is THAT’? But then she puts it on and looks great. She got this blue silk muu muu looking shirt that had a huge beaded butterfly across the front. She’d wear that to high school. Her friends would always ask her where she got her awesome clothes, and she’d say ‘free swaps’!

3. I was hesitant to donate the elastic waist pants, shapeless sweatshirts, pleated dress slacks, and other ‘out of style’ remainders to the PTA clothing closet. I thought ‘what teenager would be caught dead in THAT?’ But when I shared my feelings with the Jackee, the lady from the PTA who picks up the remainders, she told me “we have special needs students who really can use those elastic waist pants and comfort sweatshirts.” I also know that immigrants use the PTA clothing closet. From their countries, many times a dressier, modest, more business like look (or in our minds outdated style) is what these kids prefer. In fact, the only things that the PTA clothing closet can’t use are t-shirts with drugs/alcohol/bad behavior logos, non-school wear like Pajamas, and anything that doesn’t have working zippers/buttons/snaps or is raggy (i.e. unwearable).

So, feel free to bring what you deem as that sweater that’s a color that isn’t flattering for you, outdated/retro/vintage clothes, ‘ugly’ Christmas sweaters (hey, I just found out they are the IN thing for the college crowd!) Of course many of us are also looking for new fashion, trendy clothes and accessories.  How many times have you purchased something *perfect* just to get it home and find it doesn’t match anything or was the wrong color/size/fit (and you can’t return it for whatever reason)?  Or you get a gift and it’s just NOT you, but it’s in perfect shape?  Those are also great items to bring to free swaps.  We all enjoy the thrill of finding the ideal items – a delightful experience!   There is no accounting for taste, and one person’s dud is another person’s dream.

BUT, we CAN’T use anything that is dirty/sweaty/cigarette smelling/mildewy. We CAN’T use anything that is a portion of an outfit (i.e. the pant legs only from a pair of zip-off pants/shorts). We CAN’T use clothes that don’t have working zippers or have snaps missing. If you have something where a button is missing, please sew on a new button before you bring it to the swap.

It would be GREAT if there was a self-appointed swapper at swaps where the PTA clothing closet picks up, who’d go through the remainders near the end of the swap and grab out any clothes inappropriate for teens (drug/alcohol themed shirts, non-school wear such as pajamas, anything else mentioned above as not teen appropriate) and take those home with them to give to their favorite punk band, turn into a redneck quilt, or put on freecycle.org.

Thanks, ladies, for stepping up to the plate:)

Barb Hughes
, Volunteer Swap Coordinator, Swap Positive founder and Admin


4 responses to “What to bring to free swaps?

  1. Any all age swaps in sherwood OR???

  2. I loved my first swap in Beaverton last Thursday. Although I only got 4 items of clothing and brought 20 or more, I found things I needed and left things I didn’t want anymore. It’s such a cool way to shop! Can’t wait for the next and I want to thank you Barb, for your wonderful time & efforts!

    • Thanks, Marcia! Totally agree with you. It feels so good to clean out what isn’t working for me anymore, and get new items I can use. Many thanks to the volunteer swap coordinators who reserve the building, send out information, find/provide mirrors, clean up afterwards, and find organizations that will pick up and give away the remainders for free. These swap coordinators depend on the help of all women who come to the swaps – feel free to ask your coordinator if there’s anything you can do to help. And of course, swaps would never happen if it wasn’t for the kind and generous swappers who come each time, bringing what they no longer love, and getting the thrill of looking for new treats that flatter and delight!

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