When I was little, I had a very entrepreneurial spirit. I loved to sell things. I sold lemonade, honey suckles, bows, fruit salad and more. Then, something happened and selling became distasteful to me. I can't stand it. I always seem to feel ripped off whether I am doing the buying or selling. I much prefer to donate things or give them away. Still, it is nice to get something out of the things I have that just don't work for me and that is where clothing swaps come in.
I have a vague memory of doing one in DC with my roommates years ago. My friend Lauri, of Found Clothing, has been doing them for years. The Expat Parents Club did one in June but I wasn't able to participate. It was a great success. And today, I attended one held by the Yongsan Playgroups. I really cleaned up! I got a winter coat and pair of jeans for Ian and a ton of stuff for Eva in sizes 6-12 months through 24 months, but mostly, size 12-18 months. Between what I already have for her and what I got today, she is pretty well set for clothes. I can fill in the gaps with things I really like.
I have been holding onto a lot of things that either didn't fit well or just weren't my style because I didn't want to deal with selling them, but didn't want to just give them away like:
1. Maternity/nursing clothes, including very nice pajamas, that are too big. I had a big pile of maternity clothes. They just don't quite work. I should have returned them, but I talked myself into keeping them to avoid the hassle of returns (trying to break that bad habit).
2. Baby bathrobes (3 of them that I received as gifts). They are super cute, but I just don't use them. It seems like by the time I get them on, I could have their clothes on. That is what I do. I used them once or twice with Ian because I was aware I wasn't using them. Then I determined it just wasn't worth the effort. However, some people do use them. My friend Heather says she uses robes on her kids all the time. Hopefully those cute robes went to someone who will love them.
3. Baby wash cloths. I have more than I need (given as gifts) and I never use them. I was happy to pass them on.
4. Extra onesies. I got a package of 6 onesies as a gift for Ian, but I never used them because I already had enough in that size.
5. Two new dresses that were gifts for Eva that will not be the right season when she hits that size.
6. A crib sheet that I received as a gift that I never used because it didn't match the crib skirt I made. I also don't use the crib very much anyway.
7. A pile of other clothes from Ian that just weren't my style.
This was so much fun. I got such a nice haul that I will be freer to buy special things for the kids and freer to give things away at the next swap. My friend, Heather, also saved some long sleeved t-shirts for Ian. She has them at her house so we'll just pick them up at our next playdate. Her son is 6 months older than Ian so it works great for hand-me downs. Her second (and last) child is a girl so she is getting rid of most things from her son. Great for us!
Swapping is good for your wallet, the environment and your feng shui! To set up a swap, you just need people and their stuff. You can make it as tight or as loose as you want as far as rules go. The way the swap worked at Yongsan Playgroups was that everyone put their stuff into piles based on loose categories/sizes. Then, everyone could take 5 items. The plan was to take a break after 5 items, but since it was going so smoothly and calmly, we decided just to keep going. The plan was to take as many items as you brought. Whatever items were left at the end could either be taken home by the person who brought them, taken by someone else, or donated.
There were lots of clothes/people at this swap and lots of clothes to pick from and we are a tight knit community so I think when you have those circumstances you can use looser rules/structure. If you do a swap with a smaller group/smaller pile, you might need to take turns and go around the room choosing one item at a time so everyone gets the chance at the good stuff. If you do a swap with a big group, it is probably a good idea to start with a limit and take take breaks until you see how aggressive people are in the choosing to make sure it is a positive/pleasant experience for everyone.
Have fun, and get swapping!