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.”
Left: 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