I’m not too fab for a nice hand me down. My husband once freaked thinking I might be bringing home lice when I brought home amazing goodies at a kids consignment store. But really, once you wash them there should be nothing to worry about. I’ve happily welcomed hand me downs from friends too and have added to Juliet’s wardrobe on the cheap in this way.
So when I heard about this NYC event where it’s basically a giant mommy trading event, I had to check it out. Little Swappies granted me a press pass (thank you!) and today I excitedly trekked over there in hopes of a good scavenger hunt. The anticipation of a good deal and the adventure of heading out on my own for once, without baby and without husband was like adrenaline in this shopaholic’s body.
Photo credit: Sofia Lynn Photography
Here’s how it works. You bring in a minimum of 5 pieces of like-new, clean baby items 0-6years old or maternity clothes, kids toys or books. ( I went way over the minimum and brought in an entire shopping bag full of stuff and the other moms that I noticed did too). Pay a non-refundable $20 in advance or $25 at the door, check out the sponsor booths and enter raffles while they organize the drop-offs by size, then browse the selection and take whatever you need (they give you a tote bag to collect items and bring them home with you). Reception and organization is 10-11:15 and the doors to “shop” open until 12 noon.
Before attending, I worried that it would be like one of those infamous Filene’s Basement bridal sample sale rushes where you get stampeded in the process. It is NY after all. Much to my surprise though, the crowd was civilized … and this was basically a free for all. I’ve been to NY sample sales where the women clawed and jumped over their own kids to pay hundreds of dollars on the last designer item. I even have a sample sale battle wound as a result of the vulture-like craze near freebies can engender.
Perhaps it was the speech right before opening the doors that reminded us how the partner charity was benefiting from the event. Perhaps it was too early in the morning to get that feisty. Or perhaps it was because it was a holy Sunday. Nobody tripped anyone else, no one ran, and no one stole anything out of my hands. People were shockingly courteous from what I saw. Here’s a snapshot of one table area.
Here is the raffle table (everyone gets one raffle ticket and can enter to win a raffle of their choice). I entered to win a free baby photo shoot but there was really no chance in winning that since I didn’t stay til the end. I started feeling guilty for being out and leaving the babysitting duties to my hubby so I took off early.
They also offered free babysitting and stroller parking as well as a coat hanging area (leave all of the above at your own risk).
And then for those who really love freebies, there are sponsor tables that you can browse to pick up more items (as if the goody bag weren’t enough).
Here is what I came home with.
I was most excited about the items that were apparently never used and brand new. The blue summer smocked outfit, the red heart long sleeved shirt, the elephant toy and smaller blocks all had tags and or were in their original packaging. Score!!
So here are some of my Little Swappies tips:
- Know before you go. Review your child’s closet to see what she has and what she needs. Make a mental list. I for instance, knew I needed outfits in the 18month -2 year range but would also take any cute shoes in the 12month+ range. Having also done my research on age-appropriate toys, I knew what the next developmental toys in Juliet’s collection should be. Search for blocks and see if there are any interesting board books to add to her collection. She loves to turn pages and I need them to be sturdy enough for her little hands not to rip.
- Leave the kid(s) at home unless you are OK with leaving them with the free babysitting service. It’s too much hassle to lug around the extra weight for the two hours you are there or navigate narrow aisles with a stroller. And you don’t want anything to slow you down. The tables 6 months and up empty out pretty quickly so you have to look and act fast.
- Skip the Starbucks stop on the way there, save yourself the money and just show up because they have free Starbucks waiting for you there! There are most likely also going to be some edible samples from the different companies that are trying to promote themselves too.
- Leave the hubby behind. It isn’t fun to be surrounded by so much estrogen. Plus there aren’t many chairs in the waiting lounge area so he’ll either have to stand around wishing he was instead home in front of the TV or follow you around like a sad puppy. Give yourself some me time and relish in the girly hunt!
- Enjoy the sponsor tables but make sure to head to the entrance doors around 20-30minutes before they open otherwise, you’ll be in a panic at the end of the line wondering if your sizes will have run out by the time you make it through the doors.
- Most moms live in them already but just in case, wear comfy shoes. Standing on your 4′ heels is no fun when in line. And hello, this is a mommy swapping event. There is no need to dress to impress. Who are you kidding? We all know you live in leggings and flats everyday anyways!