Thrift stores and flea markets have taken many forms. This new community event based in New York City combines the two to create the latest innovation in sustainable reuse.
The Stop 'N' Swap is a free community reuse event hosted by the department of sanitation in New York City. The swaps are part of a zero waste program and have created a new platform for thrift shopping where, incredibly, everything is free.
"It’s kind of like a free flea market," Grow NYC Coordinator Victoria Dearborn told Circa. "We do a lot of outreach in the neighborhood, and we invite everybody in the community to bring donations. It’s all during a one-day event."
Anyone is welcome at the swap. It begins with an intake process where participants voluntarily drop items off. Then, they are able to take whatever they’d like. With this set of guidelines, hot-ticket items don’t last long.
The swaps have included items such as clothing, books, toys, jewelry and household wares, but Dearborn said there have been some unusual donations as well.
"We one time got a 30 foot-wide hamster apartment building," she said. "We get a lot of weird romance novels, we’ll get stuff that’s definitely not suitable for children sometimes."
Stop 'N' Swap has gained a huge following, and Dearborn believes that part of the reason is that these events make reuse more accessible in a neighborhood setting.
"We strongly encourage people to hold swaps in their own neighborhoods and we’re always happy to provide resources to people if they want to do that," she said, "This is just the beginning!"