“New to You, For Free!” – How to Host a Clothing Swap

Amy Hannold
247Moms Frugal Living Editor

Hosting a clothing swap is an earth-friendly, budget-stretching, community-building way to acquire “new to you” clothing. Here are tips to make your event a fun success:
Time: March and September seem to be popular months, as people are making seasonal changes in their wardrobe.
Location: Once you have your location, be sure to clearly communicate and negotiate with the location these vital details:
1. When can you begin collecting donations at the site?
2. What hours the site will be open to you for set-up, the swap and closing/cleaning.
3. Tables, chairs, and other equipment that is included in the use of the building – and how they want the room configured before you leave.
4. Food: be sure you know if food is welcome at the site, any refrigerator or other kitchen space you may have use of during the event.
5. Signage: what kind of signage is allowed outside the building, street signage and indoor signage?
6. Fees/Policies/Cleaning: will there be fees and or a deposit required for use of the building. Does the site have other policies you need to be aware of?
7. Space: what rooms/walls are available to you for the swap and what areas are off-limits
Team: Team up with a local Soroptimists, VFW, MOPS or similar service/womens organization. Designate a small team that will help you complete the event details. Recruit additional volunteers for setup/clean up sorters, hosts and greeters. Familiarize your teams with their task and the time they are assigned to the event. Bring water and/or snacks to keep your volunteers energized! Crock-pot soup is a favorite!
Donations: Accepting donations prior to the event gives your earliest guests items to choose from. At the swap, guests bring their items to the front door. Guests are welcome whether they have items to swap or not (we make this very clear in our advertising). Guests are welcome to take anything from the room that they would like, no matter the number of donations they brought. Greeters take the clothes from the guests and hand them to a sorter. Sorters clean out the bags, and then deliver the items to the designated tables. (Have an “unsuitable” box(es) for items not usable for the event and dispose of properly).
Publicity: Create a flyer, Facebook page, and email contact for the swap. Begin advertising in places families frequent four weeks before your event. Network with local churches, schools, media, etc. to publicize your event. Find alternate donation stations for your event, other than your site if necessary. Make a second round of publicity visits a week before your event.
Signage: Outside/street signage and on streets leading up to your swap is important. Signage for the tables/departments at the swap is helpful.
Bags/Boxes: In the weeks before your event, recruit your family/friends/church/etc. to begin collecting clean bags. Have an “unsuitable” box(es) for items not usable for the event and dispose of them properly. Be sure to have a big box of large garbage bags ready to gather swap leftovers!
Misc: Have an email sign-up sheet for guests who want to be informed of the next event. Be sure you have a plan for what you will do with the swap leftovers. Provide mirrors and/or dressing room spaces. Liquor store boxes are great to have on hand for guests who are taking home lots of goodies. Consider adding household goods, books, and/or baby gear to your swap as you choose or space is available.

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