Swap Shop! New Yorkers Are Switching Up Their Unwanted Kiddie Clutter

little swapies 2

Hurrah! Spring cleaning just got a hell of a lot easier: Manhattan-born Little Swappies have finally held their first of many Brooklyn swaps. Now in their second year, the pop-up switches are the brainchild of Chelsea local, Lauren Patterson. She hit upon the idea when her daughter was born and she saw first-hand how lightning-fast kids outgrow their toys and clothes.

With no close friends pregnant at the time, Lauren answered a local listserv ad for moms who wanted to organize a clothing swap. Armed with a box of clothes Lauren volunteered to host the first swap and hasn’t stopped since then. FYI: Lauren’s best ever swap find was a huge wooden doll house. “It was so big that no one was able to carry it, we could barely fit it in our SUV, but I am so glad that we did because our kids absolutely love it.”

And why the move to Brooklyn? “Our events have been held in Manhattan but after each event, when I looked to see where our attendees were coming from, there was always a large percentage from Brooklyn,” says Lauren. “I believe strongly that our events are community events and I thought that if these families were coming to Manhattan to participate, then why shouldn’t we come to their communities as well.”

little swapies 3Left: Lauren with her husband and children Grace & Wyatt. Right: The brand’s logo-ed bags

I show up to the Cobble Hill swap armed with a large duffle bag of newborn clothing and Lamaze rejects. My husband and baby girl are reluctant side-kicks and we’ve heeded advice to arrive promptly as swaps last just two hours. We are advised to bring a minimum of 8 items to swap – think baby clothing, maternity wear, books, toys.

Once we dropped off our unwanted booty, everyone hangs out in the pre-swap room, where sponsors tout their wares (but there’s some good stuff: Polarn O Pyret hosting a 75% off sample sale for example – yes please!). Little ones can play in the kids area – there’s even a babysitting service for those who want to focus on finding gems. Then, the swap room opens – be prepped for a (minor) stampede – each parent can pick up to 20 items.

I immediately spot a mint condition cream cashmere cardigan and it goes in my Little Swappies bag. Then a nearly new Playskool ball set joins it and several panda stuffies (my daughter is half Chinese so panda toys are mandatory!). At the end which we’ve found a dozen items, which we work would cost around $200 to buy new – not bad for $20 entry fee. And all the leftover stuff? It gets donated to roomtogrow.org, a brilliant charity which works to help kit out mothers living in difficult circumstances with everything they need.


Some of our finds on the day: Clockwise from left; Faded Glory spring onesie; red leather booties; Zutano spring stripy hat; official Star Wars onesie.

What’s next for Brooklyn? “Our plan is to have our first Williamsburg event this Fall and then hopefully a second Cobble Hill event in 2014. We are probably going to make one of the events a costume swap, so get those costumes ready too!”

The next Little Swappies event is on May 31st in Manhattan; littleswappies.com

3 Comments on Swap Shop! New Yorkers Are Switching Up Their Unwanted Kiddie Clutter

  1. Sara
    May 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm (3 years ago)

    What a great idea. I’ve been using consignment stores and the BoCoCa listsert for passing on items and picking up bargains. It’s good to know that this scale of swapping exists. Sign me up for the next one.

  2. leahlikes
    May 2, 2014 at 9:09 am (3 years ago)

    WOW! you got some awesome stuff.

  3. rae
    May 2, 2014 at 1:41 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m massively for things like this. its a disgrace how much children paraphernalia ends up in land fill : ( if we can all make sure we get second hand is really makes a difference.


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