Swap ’til You Drop

by Melissa Ida

As any parent knows, young boys and girls grow up too darn fast. In addition, they outgrow their clothes and toys even faster. Yesterday’s favorite building block set and mock jewelry kit get set aside for something newer, something different. The cute cargo pants and pink t-shirts bought only a few months ago no longer fit. If it seems as though you simply cannot keep up with your child’s persistent rate of growth, both money and clutter-wise, there is a simpler, cheaper and greener way to achieve this. More and more online sites today are offering rental/trading sites for parents seeking gently used, second-hand items for their children, ranging from onesies to polo shirts and musical mobiles to jumbo puzzles. The following sections touch on sites that offer these online services.

As any parent knows, young boys and girls grow up too darn fast. In addition, they outgrow their clothes and toys even faster. Yesterday’s favorite building block set and mock jewelry kit get set aside for something newer, something different. The cute cargo pants and pink t-shirts bought only a few months ago no longer fit. If it seems as though you simply cannot keep up with your child’s persistent rate of growth, both money and clutter-wise, there is a simpler, cheaper and greener way to achieve this. More and more online sites today are offering rental/trading sites for parents seeking gently used, second-hand items for their children, ranging from onesies to polo shirts and musical mobiles to jumbo puzzles. The following sections touch on sites that offer these online services.

thredUP.com

This trendy site thrives on the belief that “Clothes don’t grow, kids do.” To keep up with the competition, parents are offered two services: they can peruse the site’s online catalog for used clothes at discounted prices and/or they can trade in their own used clothes to gain cash back or in-store credit. The first option can be found under the site’s “shop” section, which includes photo and pricing information for its items. “Clean out” is the site’s second option, which states that children will not wear one-third of their clothes ever again, thus reinforcing the idea of recycling used clothes for cash. With this option, parents can simply request an enormous bag (courtesy of the company) to place all their children’s unwanted/outgrown clothes in and simply leave it on the doorstep for the postal service to pick up. If the quality of the clothing is approved by the company, parents can redeem their cash via Paypal or in-store credit.

To be approved, clothing must meet several criteria, as thredUP strives to offer like-new apparel. Clothing must be like-new or completely new. Excessive wear-and-tear, stains, holes, fading, tears, etc., are simply not accepted. Secondly, all clothes must be washed before submitting them. Fresh and clean clothes are mandatory. Most importantly, all apparel must be in style. The site insists on receiving clothes that have been purchased no longer than two years ago. To determine how much your clothes are worth, the site offers a calculator to estimate the value of your hand-me-downs.

BabyPlays.com

Babyplays.com is considered the “Netflix” of online toy rental sites. It guarantees that parents can “never be without toys” and offers terrific services that are convenient, affordable and flexible. It provides several options for membership plans, yet parents do not need to be members in order to participate (those with memberships have all shipping fees waived). The concept of this site is that parents can rent used toys over and over again, which allows them the freedom of rotating toys rather than buying them and letting them collect dust after their children have lost interest in them. Toy prices range from $2.99-$8.99/toy/month and toys can be kept out for as long as 90 days at a time. By placing orders three to five days prior to the next available shipping date, parents can have a steady stream of toys ready at their children’s disposal that are not only fun, but germ-free as well.

The Baby Plays website guarantees clean and sanitary toys. All toys that are sent to them are thoroughly cleansed before they get shipped out again. Their cleaning process is broken down into three steps. During the initial one, toys are cleaned with a non-toxic, plant based cleaning agent. The toys are then sanitized with an EPA-approved, non-toxic product commonly used in hospital NICUs. It is known to kill viruses and bacteria such as influenza, the common cold, Staphylococcus, and E. coli. Lastly, all toys are shrink-wrapped before they are sent out, thus reducing the chance of coming into contact with outside agents.

Swapbabygoods.com

Ideal for “swappers,” this site asks the question “Why buy when you can swap?” For those looking for greener, cheaper ways of accumulating and/or rotating baby products, they need look no further. Registration is absolutely free, providing customers with the options of buying, selling, or swapping used baby clothes, toys, and other accessories. The process works in five easy steps. First, registered users can search for, or list an item. Second, they will then receive offers or can contact other users. Third, they decide how the swap will be conducted (via mail, in person, etc.). Fourth, they ship the item. Fifth, they can leave feedback if desired. For those new to this trend, swapbabygoods.com offers plenty of advice on their discussion forums, FAQs, and contact pages.

Market.swap.com

“Turn what you have into what you want” is market.swap.com’s catchphrase. All items are free; users simply pay the shipping fee. Its catalog includes baby and children-related products, but is not limited to them. Other categories include Computers & Electronics, Home & Garden, and Sports & Outdoors. One of the best aspects of this site is how interactive it is. Users can follow other users, provide member ratings, and can meet locally with other swappers. The greatest asset of this company is its sense of creating community.

In a time when globalization and localism have managed to mingle, market.swap.com has seized this opportunity to make swapping a convenient and collective trend. Users can view items on the site and agree to swap them via online or in person. With their iPhone App, users can upload pictures of what they are selling and share them with others on the site or through the site’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Other features with this app include browsing items and sending and receiving messages regarding swaps and swappers. On their swap local page, users can find other swappers within their own city and state. This trend allows users to “connect, communicate, maybe even convene…” At any rate, it is a fascinating approach to getting rid of what you have in exchange for what you want.

Mom365.com

On this website can be found the following page (within their archives), which gives basic summaries/reviews of seven online swapping sites: http://www.mom365.com/Wisdom/Moms/Swap%20Sites/Swap%20Sites%202.aspx.

This page provides website information, such as the site’s name, region represented, what it has to offer, how it works, and an example of what can be swapped on it. All seven sites focus on swapping items for babies, parents, and entire families along with creating a welcoming swapping community for all involved.

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