Clothing Swap

Updated on February 20, 2010
E.E. asks from Laurel, MD
5 answers

I'm organizing a clothing swap for children's clothing at my church. I attended one last year at a different church and thought it would be a great thing to have. We have about 800 attendees on a Sunday morning. Before I get in over my head, I wanted to ask the advice of other moms who have done this-- how long did it take for you to organize clothes the night before? Did you collect clothing just the night before or over a few weeks? Did you give tickets or some other type of voucher to the people who were dropping things off to make it more of an official "swap" or just allow people to take what they needed the day of the swap even if they didn't bring anything? I want this to be an outreach to our community but I don't want it to be overwhelming or upsetting to those of us organizing it or those attending. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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answers from Washington DC on

What about just setting up like a large yard sale. Everyone that wants to contribute brings their items, a table, etc. They organize it themselves. Then others can go around to the different tables and take what interests them.

Churches here have what is called a 'trunk sale'. Where you display items for swap in your car trunk! Then people just go around the parking lot from car to car.




answers from Washington DC on

Our church simply sets up with tables and clothing racks labeled (ie baby boy 0-6 mo, girls 7-12, books, household items etc.) The day of the swap, ppl bringing stuff would put their items in the correct places thus everyone organized their own things rather than two or three ppl being heaped with all the organizing. From 8 to 10 am only ppl bringing items are allowed in so they get the first shot at swapping. After 10 its open to whoever and whatever is left at closing is donated to charity.


answers from Milwaukee on

The only clothing swap I have been to I dropped of clothing (a bag full) and 4 pair of shoes the day before (drop of time was Noon - 5pm)... I got a voucher then saying I could take a bag full and up to 4 pairs of shoes. If you brought 4 bags, you got to take four bags. Also I know that they went through the bags and rejected any clothing that was well worn or stained, not fair to give unusable clothes but take usable clothes.

A true clothing swap is you give and take, you can not just take.

Ok now I remember what how the church I went to did this... if you gave something the above is followed and you then were allowed to come in from 9am-11am to get first picks (and could only take the same amount you gave)... from 11:30am - 1pm the clothes swap was opened up to the general for a small amount $5 to fill one bags of clothes/shoes, $10 to fill two bags (not allowed to fill more then two bags unless you actually gave more then two bags of clothes). All the proceeds went to the church's mom's group to put on more events or pay for any items bought to put on that event.

Time line as I remember it:

Drop off day before from Noon - 5pm
I noticed that ladies were already laying out the clothes during the drop off
Sure they set up past 5pm, but if setting up during drop off it will go quicker if there are helpers to do set up.

Next day 9am - 11am anyone who dropped off clothes came with voucher to have first pick.
Break just helpers can have a quick snack, use restrooms and maybe straighten the place up if a huge mess.
11:30am - 1:30pm open to the general public ($5 one bag, $10 two bags)

At the swap I went to at least half the moms that dropped off clothes did not participate, they just gave clothes so that is the only way it could be opened up to the public who did not give clothes. If you plan on doing a true swap you can still open in up to the public to do the swap but omit the last part the time for non-swappers paying for bags.

Hope that helps, I did not run it just was very aware of all the details because I was intrested in doing one... instead our church did a larger kids clothing & toys rummage sale which went really well. We provided tables and the space and both members and the genreal public were allowed to have tables to sell. Set up time was 7:30am-9:30am the rummage went from 10am-5pm. The mom's group at the church sold concessions (hot dogs, salads, cookies, veggie pack, whole fruit and various drinks), all the proceeds from this went to support more events put on by the mom's group and cover the cost to put this event on.



answers from Washington DC on

Our church has about 1600 memebers, so we do a swap twice a year, in the fall and spring. We start collecting a few weeks before, people volunteer to help set it up. (The people who volunteer their time are allowed to take things they need as they are setting up)

We just used the honor system since it was a community outreach by our church. We used tables, racks, etc. to divide up the stuff, i.e. baby (sizes), children's (sizes), adult (size), household, books, toys, shoes, etc.

I do know that they had a certain time for those who donated stuff to come and take what they needed and then they opened up to the general public.

If there was stuff that was completely unusable/stained, it was donated to Planet Aid, who could then use those garments to make new sustainable things. Anything left at the end was donated to several charities.

Best wishes on your endeavors,
D. M.



answers from Washington DC on

hello. At the school I worked at we did a book swap. We collected items for 3wks prior to the swap and sorted the books as they came in. It was a general swap so we had infant type books all the way to adult books. When the children brought their books in we gave then a voucher then. I would recommend doing the same. I would also maybe ask if the people can have them pre-sorted, this wouldn't work for my students, but for adults it should. Of course there will be some who don't. but it should at least help some. Good Luck!

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