Clothing, Book & Toy Exchanges

Holding a Toy Exchange

Has anyone ever hosted or participated in a clothing/toy/book exchange? We are developing one for our area and would appreciate input from people who have participated or run one before. This is going to be a private, free, take only what you need type exchange for a limited group of people.

"Swap Meets"

My church did this and called the events "Swap Meets." The women's group were responsible for sorting items that were donated. Household items were displayed on one table. Toys on another. Children's clothing was grouped according to size and displayed on a separate table. Same thing done for all the rest of the clothing. Anything that was suitable to be found at a yard sale, we had at our Swap Meet.

On the assigned day for the Swap Meet, anyone from the church was welcomed to come to the church's fellowship hall and pick out and take whatever was needed. After the church people had a day to take what they wanted, then an ad was placed in the local paper and anyone from the community was invited to come in and take what they wanted. At the end of that day, any remaining items were donated to a thrift store. We did this twice a year for several years and always received positive feedback.
Penny S. in Elwood, IN

My Toy Exchange Hosting Experience

Plan these events to happen once a month (preferably the same time each month...5th of each month, or second Tuesday, etc.). Usually you will end up with a great continuing turn out if you do this on a regular basis.

Ask everyone to bring their toys/books/clothing that are in "good" condition. (Some people will bring some pretty worn out clothes or toys that are broken to exchange for items of better quality). It is always good to set guidelines of what is and is not acceptable.

Set guidelines, such as you only take as many items as you donate to the exchange. (The reason we set this guideline is that one woman was coming and donating a single McDonald's Happy Meal toy and leaving with 7 or 8 articles each time. For those of us with several children that donated tons of items, we ended up getting the bad end of the bargain.)

One person should be in charge of storing all the leftover items until the next exchange. Items that are left in circulation for more than 3 months can be donated to a woman's shelter or other charity of choice. That way you don't end up storing tons of unwanted items (or, save them for a summer garage sale and split the profits).

Honor System

When we had a clothing exchange at the Open Pre-school, everyone put a note with the price and their name on the items they wanted to exchange. Then each and everyone had their own envelope in a small box, and you put the money for the items you took in that person's envelope. This way you didn't have to keep track of who exchange with who. It worked well for us. Needless to say. prices are to be reasonable, no one made any profits in this exchange ... not more then saving the money compared to buy the clothes new, that is.
Eva in Uppsala, Sweden

Twice Weekly Clothing Exchange

One of our community centres here in Victoria hosts a regular clothing exchange (twice a week). It happens at the same time than the preschool-drop-in so that there are always many parents and children to participate. Anyone who has any clothing (and sometimes toys, books, or baby-related items) to get rid off brings them as a donation. And everyone is allowed to take home whatever they like. The staff at the community centre sort through the clothing, sort it into drawers or the closet, get rid of broken/ripped or badly stained things, and sort out clothes that haven't been wanted after x number or months. I have found lots of clothes and other items for myself and my children, and always make sure to bring them whatever I sort out at home. It is a fantastic service, for everyone to benefit from, and I hope it will work out for your community, too.

Church Hosted Toy Exchange

My church did something like this a couple of years ago. We just advertised in the church bulletin and printed up some flyers emphasizing spring cleaning, one man's trash is another man's treasure, etc. The only stipulation we had was that after the ending time, all goods had to be removed from church property. Goodwill made out like a bandit that day! The youth group sold hotdogs, baked goods, coffee & soda which went over really well. It was held outdoors so any kids that came were able to play. We basically traded stuff and no money traded hands. It was a great time of fellowship.

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