Want to help the environment and keep items out of the landfill? Allow someone else to give them a new life. We have some tips for hosting a community swap meet! Think of swapping like a category-specific garage sale, only everything is free! It’s a great way to share and find useable treasures while spending time with your friends and neighbors.
Swapping doesn’t have to be an in-person event; it can also happen online through Facebook groups, Craigslist, or similar platforms like Freecycle. Check-out Hudson’s “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook. You can list items you are giving away or items you are in search of (ISO). The exchange works both ways.
Here are just a few category ideas:
- Jewelry, makeup, and accessories
- Kitchen /bathroom gadgets & linens
- Storage, organization, and home decor
- Sporting and camping gear
- Electronics and video games
- Music, movies, books
- Art and craft supplies
- Garden supplies and consumables
- Tools and building supplies
- Christmas or holiday giftables
Here are some basic rules you can use for your swap meet:
- No money changes hands.
- If you get home and decide an item doesn’t work, give it away or donate it.
- Bring only clothing that has been washed and items that are in good condition.
These Free Swap Rules help keep things running smoothly.
Find Attendees and a Location
You can find prospective participants through:
- Your friends. If it’s a small group, host it in someone’s house or yard.
- Your neighborhood. If your neighborhood is active on NextDoor, post your swap meet on there. If you have a larger group, find a local park or community center. Turn it into a block party or potluck while you’re at it.
- Your apartment complex. If your complex has a communal area, hold it there.
- Your place of work. Set it up one day during lunch or after work.
- Your place of worship. Hold it after service.
- Meet-up. Search online for events in your city or set up your own meet-up group.
Coordinate with your group to see what date and time works best for the majority. Swaps usually take about an hour or two. Keep in mind that you will need to allow time to set-up and tear down. Post the event online, put up posters around your community or simply tell your friends about your swap meet.
Decide How to Exchange
Smaller groups may not have an issue with hot items that are up for grabs, but you may want to have a system.
- Have everyone take a random number and take turns in-order for a round or two—then open it up.
If you have a larger group, you may need some rules.
- It could be a straight-up barter system—“I’ll trade you this scarf for that purse”.
- Your swap coordinator may simply say “GO”, then everyone starts at the same time with the same opportunity.
Decide How to Display
When setting up, consider the amount of people and items you expect.
- If it is a smaller group, you can empty your bags on tables or sheets in rows in the middle of the room and wait until everyone is ready.
- If it is a larger group, you may want to consider having participants sort their items on tables with category or size labels? (Example: Women’s size 10-12 or Jewelry or Purses)
- Discuss where participants can safely put their stashes.
- Everyone should bring their own bags.
- If it is a clothing swap, consider wearing yoga, spandex or swimsuits so you can try on clothes or maybe there is a spot that can accommodate this (spare bedroom, restroom, curtained-off corner).
- Provide a mirror or two for clothing swaps.
What to do With Leftovers
- Give people the option to take back their items that did not find new homes.
- Ideally, remainders should be donated to organizations that will give them away.
- Donate to emergency services, church clothing closets, friends and neighbors, women’s resource centers and homeless shelters.
Secondhand goods are more sustainable simply because the necessary resources have already been extracted, the production process completed, and shipping satisfied. The best part is giving an old item a new life, keeping it out of the landfill and helping the earth.
You can find more information about recycling, local resources, and upcoming collection events on the St. Croix County Recycling Page.