How To Host a Swap Meet

A couple of weeks ago I hosted a swap meet.

Having heard of the concept for years, I had always wanted to try it. Free stuff! Get rid of clutter! What’s not to love?!

But it was after reading Carmen’s post about her clothing swap that prompted me to immediately get off my duff and DO it.

Tale Off Your Clothes - Toronto 2011
Creative Commons License photo credit: The S.W.A.P. Team

Lesson one on How to Host a Swap Meet:

1) Don’t plan it in the summer.

It seems that summertime is just too busy for most folks, what with vacations, weddings (and the accompanying showers to attend) and such going on. The next time, I will definitely host mine in the spring or possibly fall, when people are looking for new kid’s clothes.

While I didn’t have as many turn out as I had hoped, I still consider the event a success, and plan on doing it annually. I had literally dozens of people tell me that they loved the idea and really wish they could have participated, but had previous plans. Many of them specifically asked me to contact them the next time.

2) Decide on a theme and location

What I mean by theme is, what kind of stuff should people bring to swap? Just women’s or kid’s clothing and shoes, or all clothing, and what about small household stuff, books, etc?

Next month I’m hosting a kid’s clothing and book exchange with my homeschool field trip group. While it will be a smaller invite list, the stuff will be more targeted.

I hosted my swap in my living room, but if you wanted to have an open invitation and advertise a little, you could “rent” a library conference room (most are free if the event is non commercial in nature) or something spiffy like that.

Another nicety is a room with a full length mirror that people can try on clothing in.

3) Send out your invites AND a reminder

I invited most everyone in my Facebook and email contact list who lived in the area (I limited it to a one hour drive). I basically stole shamelessly loosely paraphrased Carmen’s invitation email.

I wish I had sent out a reminder though, because several people (including my own mother) forgot about the swap after RSVP’ing. (I should know better, because my mom is the Queen of hospitality and always called people to remind them of an event!)

What to include in your email?

Instructions for people. You might suggest that all clothing items be hung. Assuming you have a place to hang stuff up, something I would recommend. If not, forget that. Ask that all items be clean and in good condition, and clearly marked as to size so people don’t have to dig and search for sizes.

I decided to keep my swap simple. While some might come up with a complicated system of points or whatever to keep things more “fair”, I was more concerned with keeping things fun and easy. My only rule was “don’t come empty handed”, but I didn’t concern myself with how much anyone brought or left with.

4) Have snacks

Where women are gathered, there need to be snacks.  A little sangria makes it extra fun.

Tale Off Your Clothes - Toronto 2011
Creative Commons License photo credit: The S.W.A.P. Team

I’ll update later after my homeschool group does our book/kids clothing swap next month.

Have you ever hosted a swap meet? Got tips?



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