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Clothing Swap Meets
Not too long ago I decided to join a clothing swap meet. I started to look into clothes swapping in an effort to update my wardrobe without spending a lot of money. The process was easy enough. I Googled swap meets and found a couple of local groups which appealed to me. You sign up online, fill out a profile of yourself, download a photo, pay about $5.00 for the entire year and you are a member. The requirement is to attend at least one swap per year. You can join as many different swap meets as you like; they vary in price and clothing requirements. Some cater to high end clothes and others are more general. There is a minor entrance fee on the day of the event; this entrance fee is usually no higher than $6.00, about $3.00 if you bring cookies or $1.00 dollar if you bring a bottle of wine. I usually pay the entire entrance fee. I believe donations are used to pay for the space, refreshments, etc. From my understanding left over items are donated to charitable organizations.
The clothes swaps I attend are for women only (don’t laugh, who knows if there is a coed one out there). The items we swap are primarily clothing and accessories of all varieties and sizes; coats, pants, skirts, dresses, tops and accessories, such as shoes, belts, jewelry, and bags. I had to pass the size two pants on the table, but I did find a few sweaters, in fact, a friend commented on how “modern” one of my sweaters looked. I traded in many of my suits for a more casual look since I’m now retired.
The swaps usually have a theme; end of summer, beginning of winter, newcomers only, old timers, etc. You must bring your own shopping bags to carry additional clothes. The requirements for how much clothing and items to bring vary. My experience has been from 5 to 20 items... There are usually no try on rooms, you just either check the size label if there is one or you eyeball to see if it fits. If you want to you can put it on top of your clothes which I prefer not to do or you can even partially undress in a corner and slip something on and off quickly. During the times I have attended there was a nice mix of women varying in ages, sizes, and backgrounds. The protocol is to be friendly and polite to one another and to keep the atmosphere casual.
As I became more familiar with this process I learned that some meets do have limits to the amount of items you can take and others use tickets to swap a one for one item. There are always specific guidelines sent via email as to the location and how many items one can bring before a swap. Also you must rsvp yes, or no for each event (no surprise visits) and there is also a limit to the amount of times you can decline an invitation for the year. It is very important to be on the honor system in terms of the quality and condition of items one brings. I think it would be very insulting to bring rags and pick up nice items. Nothing should be stained, ripped, shrunken, overly worn, or unwashed. Don’t bring anything you would not wear yourself.
It is very important to be punctual. It’s a very good idea to be there ten to fifteen minutes before the event opens. Everything happens rather fast! One signs in, gets their clothes looked over by the attendants, puts their clothes on the various assorted tables or racks separated by skirts, dresses, shoes, pants., accessories, etc. You socialize a bit and have something to eat. Once the meet is officially open, from that moment on everyone gets busy selecting and trying on. I’m usually done in half an hour. I like the camaraderie of these meets, but I also feel good about leaving my clothes knowing that other women will be able to use them.
One last thing, I always spray the clothes and any extra shopping bags I take with me with an anti-mites spray. I use one by JT Eaton, but there are many good ones on the market. When I bring my clothes home I always leave them by the door and put them in the bathtub. I cover them with a sheet, generously sprinkle a power called Diatomaceous Earth (DE) and leave them there overnight. As fast as I can, I always take any necessary item to the cleaners or hand wash in plenty of water. I never put them directly in my closet with my other clothes.
All in all my experience with clothing swap meets has been a lot of fun. I keep going back and the good thing is I drop off a great deal of clothes and pick up a few items which do fit me. The last time I participated, I came home with five pair of pants and two sweaters, not bad for six dollars.