6:02:11 PM

How to host a clothing swap

A few months ago I hosted my very first clothing swap. The premise is simple, every attendee brings gently used clothing that they are no longer using. You get the chance to get rid of things you can't fit into or are no longer interested in and can take home someone else's quality castaways. A swap can be a great event to pull in a couple friends or to plan for your local community. While I’m no expert, here’s what I did to plan and pull off the event. If done right these events can have very little overhead costs and don’t require as much time and planning as other kinds of events.

  • Find a location. I started with my high school since I still have a great relationship with the people there, and my little sister is enrolled as a senior there. But a community hall, church basement, event hall, anything could work. All you need is a place that has two individual spaces – one for the swap and one for the waiting period.
  • Pick a date. Figure out what works best for the crowd you are trying to bring in. If I were going to do it again I would probably pick a Saturday instead so more of the local bloggers could get there after work.
  • Find vendors. (this one is optional) I contacted a handful of local Chicago-based Etsy shops and offered them vendor spots. For the waiting period, the vendors gave those standing around something to do, try on and purchase.
  • Enlist volunteers. I wrangled in my sisters, mother, one of the school teachers who is a friend of mine, and several students. Offering them free tickets for their help before the event was a great way to get the help and to spread the word.
  • Make a list of needed supplies. We needed vendor tables and swap tables, rolling racks, extension cords, table cloths, hangers, etc….
  • Create marketing materials. A simple flyer, eventbrite invitation pdf invites and a press release work for this.
  • Distribute materials. I researched local papers and event listings and sent along press releases to those publications. I also sent invites to local bloggers and all the alumni in the area. Also, be a little pushy, but not crazy. Reminders are helpful. Stalking isn’t.
  • Arrive early. To make sure the whole thing goes off without a glitch it’s a good idea to arrive early, take stock of what you have or might need to get last minute.
  • Set up. There should be a large number of tables and rolling racks in the swap room, as well as tables and some chairs for the vendors. There should also be a registration area, where people can check in, drop off their swap items, purchase tickets, etc…
  • Then open the doors and let the magic happen.

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