Okinawa Kids Clothing Swap

Swap Clothing
Swap Clothing

CONTRIBUTED BY MEGAN PARKER

The concept of swap shopping is simple and genius: take what you don’t need and trade it for something you do! It’s a great way to recycle, save money, and even meet new people. If you like any of these things, swap shopping might just be for you!

The Okinawa Kids Clothing Swap began in 2009 by founder Anastasia McPherson as a way for parents to meet and swap their kids’ clean, gently used clothing for clothing in sizes they need. Best of all, there’s no money involved – it’s absolutely free! It is a credit-based system whereby you are granted a credit for each piece of clothing that is accepted. You then turn around and use those credits to “shop” for new-to-you items! Pure genius.

Swap shopping is easy and fun, but there are tricks to the trade. Read on for some helpful tips to help maximize your first (or next) swap shopping experience!

Have a Game Plan
The best thing you can do is to have a game plan. This is not a “browsing” shopping experience – things move very quickly at these events. Prioritize what you are looking for, especially if you are shopping for more than one child. Before the swap begins figure out the layout of the room – where the sizes you need are located and the most direct path for getting there. Older kids’ clothing goes fast, so I always go there first and then hit up the younger kids’ tables where there is generally more to choose from. This last time, however, my daughter really needed shoes so I hit up the shoes/accessories table first and scored some cutey-patootie Sketchers. Prioritize!

Swap Tables
Swap Tables
Swap Clothing 2
Swap Clothing 2

Size Up
You will have the best luck with swap shopping if you “size up” – and by that I mean, at each swap you should shop for not only the sizes your child needs but at least 1-2 sizes up from that as well. Doing this allows you to build a wardrobe over the course of several swaps, and by the time your child actually grows into that size you will have a stockpile of clothing to choose from.

Manage your Credits Wisely

If you are concerned about the style/quality/quantity of clothing that will be available, I recommend starting small and bringing just a few items; maybe 5-10 to start with. But remember that you can only leave with the amount you came with. So if you hit the jackpot and find tons of stuff but run out of credits, you’re out of luck. The great thing about the Okinawa Kids Clothing Swap is that credits are currently valid for three swaps (the one you register for and the next two). So even if you don’t use them all at the first swap, they’ll carry over for another two swaps. So plan accordingly!

Volunteer
The swap can’t exist without our volunteers, and we use registered participants the day of the swap to review the clothing coming in. By volunteering, you receive 10 pre-picks of clothing! That means you get to go through the clothing before the other swappers and choose 10 items, so long as you have 10 credits to use. This is a great opportunity to snag the best items first! I almost always walk away with some clothing that is new-with-tags and/or name brand. I’ve included some pictures of the clothing that I brought home from our most recent swap, as well as a picture of clothing that a friend scored for her son!

Swap Logo
Swap Logo

I loved volunteering at the swap so much that when Anastasia needed someone to take over the swap due to her upcoming PCS, I jumped at the opportunity. Heather Nordell and I joined Anastasia’s previous partner, Sarah Cardio, in helping coordinate the swap. Each swap gets bigger and better, and we now average around 100 participants per swap! The swaps are held quarterly, and we’d love to have you join us in swap shopping. Find us on Facebook (Okinawa Kids Clothing Swap) or join our Yahoo! Group for more information and to register for the next swap!

7 COMMENTS

  1. Just wanted to update this, as of today Aug 2012, the swap has continued to grow and exceed our expectations! At the end of 2011 Kristy Wells, Elaine Wang, Courtney Walinski and I, Kristina Trujillo have taken over the reigns and continue to build each swap to its fullest potential! We currently have over 450 members and take in around 3000 pieces of clothing each swap. At roughly $10 an item (I’m sure most actually cost much more) this would be a cost savings of $30,000 per swap! We no longer accept juniors size clothing but do have a much larger assortment of kids clothes from newborn all the way up to 14/16. We continue to grow because of our awesome volunteers and members, and we continue to offer this as a 100% free event!

  2. Thanks for the info Megan. This is such a great idea, and I’ll pass this along to our wives’ club and help spread the word.

  3. Currently there is some clothing available for older children, but the selection is much more limited than for younger children. There are lots of reasons that play into this – first, the selection is only as good as what our participants bring to the swap. So it is to your benefit to help spread the word as much as possible, particularly among school-aged children, which is where we need the most help. Share our Facebook site, email your friends, PTA, and groups you are involved in, share our Yahoo site, and download our flier from the Yahoo group site to help spread the word!

    Second, older children wear their clothing longer and outgrow it faster than younger children (not to mention play harder), and are therefore more likely to have stains, fraying, or holes/tears in their clothing. Since we do not accept clothing that has stains, etc. it does limit the selection that can be brought in to the swap. Our recommendation is to at least try the swap, and if you are concerned about the selection, just bring in a few items of clothing (say, 5-10 items) for your first swap and see how it goes. Keep in mind that your credits to carry over for two more swaps before expiring, so you’ll have two more opportunities to use your credits if you don’t find enough the first time around to use them. I hope this helps!

  4. My son is nine; I’m wondering if this is just for toddler sizes, or are there clothes for older children as well?

    Thanks!

  5. Hello,

    I heard of this but when and where? I have pleanty of clothes to swap of my daughters for the little boy I have on the way. I also would like to volunteer!

    Let me know!
    Thanks!

    • Desiree,
      Our next swap is August 13th. We hold the swaps every three months. We have a Facebook group to pass info, but for details and to join our Yahoo! group (required to participate), please go to the website listed at the end of the article. From there you’ll be able to join the group and register for the Swap once the database opens (around July 27th). I hope this helps! If you have specfic questions once you join the group and read all the information on the group website, please email us at [email protected]. Thanks!
      Megan

  6. I am SO glad that this is a new posting! I have been a member of the OKI SWAP since I got on island in 2010. Let me tell you – it is growing and the clothing selection is better and better all the time! The more people that participate the more clothes they’ll bring to swap with. We had our 1st (and only) child here on island in Nov. 2009. I have never had to go shopping for her clothing. I bought a big ‘ol bag of girls clothes from OYS and that sort of got the ball rolling for me to have clothes to swap with. Every since I just keep coming back! I have had to buy her PJ’s and shoes but other than those items I find all I need for her at the swaps. If I run out of clothes in her current size to select from at the swap I just go to bigger and bigger sizes. I have a bin in the closet with clothes sized all the way up to age 5 for her ALREADY!

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