A trash-to-treasure bash: One friend's unwanted duds become another's free fashion find
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT) - Twice a year, more than a dozen women get together to rifle through everything from clothes and shoes to accessories and shampoo _ leaving their excess items behind and going home with new treasures.
"I thought we should gather up all this stuff that doesn't fit or we don't wear and share it," Randall said.
Janice Fountain, a regular at the clothing swap, was trying to unload a waist-length black coat _ among other items _ at this year's exchange.
"I bought it two years ago, and I've never worn it. I didn't try it on, and I got it home and it doesn't fit," Fountain said. "My goal today was to clean out the coat closet. I brought a lot of coats and purses." Just in time for spring cleaning, the idea behind the exchange is to bring all of your unwanted clothing, and in exchange, you get to sift through the items the others have brought in hopes of picking up a few "new" pieces without spending a dime.
"I host it every year," Randall said. "It's just the gals, mainly because the focus has been on clothes. But literally everything shows up at the exchange. So there could be a cleaning product or cosmetic or hair product that just didn't work for someone. Or we get furniture sometimes." "We throw it all in a big pile, and some years we never make it to the bottom of the pile," she added.
"Last year it took me three trips to take everything that was left to the donation center. You never know what you're going to get," Randall said.
Laura Jantz Vincent, who has hosted a couple of fall clothing swaps of her own, hoped to do more unloading than reloading at this spring treasure hunt.
"I used to wear suits every day for work. So you hang on to them, thinking, 'Maybe I'll wear a suit again,'" she said.
So why are these women holding clothing swaps instead of trying to make a few bucks at a garage sale? "Part of the reason this happens is it's much nicer to have your friend use something than to get two bucks for it at a garage sale," Randall said.
"Sometimes you hang on to things that you don't use because you spent money on them. The thought process of giving it to a friend makes it easier to let go of it. And then if no one takes it home, it becomes OK to give it away to charity.
"The charities are getting some really nice things. And we're getting our closets cleaned out. Everybody wins. And we have a great time. It's a girls' night out."
The group also puts out a donation box for the Idaho Mad Hatter's Hat & Wig Donation Project for those with cancer, and Project Underwear, which collects new and gently used children's underwear to distribute to third world countries.
Randall can't remember how long the girls' night out clothing swap has been taking place, but it has become an annual _ and some years, semi-annual _ event.
"It arose out of a combination of my anti-clutter personality and my reuse-recycle mentality," she said. "I hate clutter; I hate having junk around that I don't use.
"I have traveled out of the country, and every time I come back, I'm struck by how consumer-oriented we are," Randall added. "Many people don't want to admit that we have limited resources."
© 2009, The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho).
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