The Garage Sale Without a Cash Box – Quad City Times – September 11, 2012 – by Bill Wundram
Of all the umpteen garage-estate sales in the Quads, this was a curious one. No money exchanged hands — no cupcake tins to hold change — but you could get a free doughnut or a cuppa by just passing by 10th Avenue in Moline.
The idea was to swap things.
Greta Long, a 13-year-old, went into her parents’ attic and found a couple of old pillows and jigsaw puzzles that had seen better days. She traded them for a nifty denim jacket.
You bring something and leave with something else. Something better, you hope, or an item you always wanted.
Sitting in a folding chair, I watched slices of life pass me by. It was a neighborly thing, and that’s what was intended on a sunny Saturday morning.
“SO MANY OF US don’t know the person across the street or two houses down,” says Jane Reinhardt-Martin, who was organizer of the swapper. “I asked the city to close off a block of 10th Avenue at 25th Street so the neighbors could swap things and get to know each other. It’s a get-together.”
Barbara Fraser brought an easel and a Christmas tree topper and traded them for some jewelry.
Barbara Metsa was pleased to contribute a pair of women’s black shoes. She swapped the shoes for four folding Frisbees that looked more like Oriental fans.
“I don’t know what I’ll do with these,” she said, laughing.
The scene was like a fair of hand-me-downs and some new miscellany. Racks of clothes were alongside a table of trinkets.
IN A DEMANDING WORLD, with both husbands and wives working, it’s easy to be strangers to your neighbors.
“Unless there was a power outage and neighbors came outside to see what was going on, people never knew each other. That’s what worked at this swap meet,” says Jane. “We had neighbors meet for the first time.”
The neighborhood of the swap meet is a tidy area of middle-class homes with well-clipped lawns and flowers. Community gardens in the vicinity are ripe for harvest, and this swap meet had a box of free fist-size tomatoes.
When it was all over, Jane and helpers loaded the leftovers to give to charitable organizations. All the tomatoes were gone.
Barb (my wonderful neighbor) and I had a lot of fun organizing our third swap party. We had many neighbors come out for the first time, and many others that hung out all morning. It was a beautiful day, sunny and 72 degrees. Enjoy our pictures!
Bill Wundram, legendary writer of the Quad City Times came to visit us on September 8th for our Neighborhood Swap Party. He watched neighbors come together to actually swap stuff, and there was no exchange of money. He wrote about us in his column, which appeared on 9/11/12. We had a lot of fun, and got some great pictures. Check them out!!
We had a great time on Saturday and pictures will be posted today! We had a special guest arrive, check out the Quad City Times Bill Wundram’s column today!
Are you tired of Yard Sales or Just want to clean out your closet and garage? Come to our Neighborhood Swap Party.
When: Saturday, September 8th, 9 AM – Noon
What: Bring items you want to swap for something from a neighbor. Such as : adult or kid’s clothes, household items, lawn & garden stuff, unused costume jewelry or decorating items….YOU NAME IT!
Where: 25th Street and 10th Avenue – The West side of 10th Ave will be closed off for the Swap.
BRING A FOLDING CHAIR AND SIT A SPELL, MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS, SWAP SOMETHING(S) AND ENJOY FREE CONVERSATION, COFFEE, TEA & DONUTS!
Questions, call Jane @ 764-6916
Our next Swap Party is going to be Saturday, September 8th from 9 am – noon. Where? 25th Street and 10th Avenue in Moline. Come and join us! It is a lot of fun, and you can take stuff home for FREE! What more could you ask!!
Our second Swap Party was on Saturday, May 12, 2012. We chose a “Bring it – Swap it” party theme this time — which means you could bring anything and swap with neighbors. Barb and I followed the same steps as the first swap party, except we changed the time to 9 am – noon. We noticed from our first swap party that after 12:00 pm, we didn’t have too many neighbors show up. We also enticed neighbors to come by and have coffee, juice, and donuts with us, even if they didn’t want to ‘swap.’
Our turnout was again around 30 people. But they were 30 different people than the first swap party. Yah! More neighbors to get to know. Besides swaping clothes, we had garden tools, pillows, shoes, boots, bikes, robes, and lots of books! And people swapped plants. That’s right, people were leaving with bags of free plants! I was so busy that I didn’t have a chance to take any photos. But, I have something even better to share. Two days after our event, my neighbor Barb came home from work and found two notes taped to her door. One was addressed to her, the other to me. Here is what the note said:
Jane Martin – Really like the swap party idea! So, fun! The first one I got a wreath and Luci a pair of red garden clogs. She gardens with me. And thanks for remembering our efforts to help the Native Americans who need a little help. Hurray! Barb W.
This hand written personal note from a fellow neighbor made all the work worthwhile! We definitely will have more in the future!
I contacted our local media a few days before our event, but didn’t really think anyone would show up. I sure was surprised. Anthony Watt, reporter from the Moline Dispatch, came around 10:30 am along with a photographer. A wonderful article about our event showed up the next day, October 16th in the Q-C area section of the paper.
We also had the local TV station, WQAD/Fox, do a story and was featured October 15th on the evening news. I am in the process of locating that footage. As soon as I have it available, I will let you know.
A special thanks to the local media for feature our neighbors helping neighbors initiative!
Our first swap party was October 15, 2011. What is a swap party, you ask? It is when you bring items you no longer want, and ‘swap’ with other neighbors for things you may want. There is no exchange in money. It is not a garage sale! Putting together a swap party is much easier if you can find another neighbor to help you, but you can do it alone. I am very lucky to have Barb J. only a few doors down from me. Her enthusiasm is contagious! This is what Barb and I did before our event:
1) We decided to stick to just a clothing swap, and not other items. If people liked the event, we could do something different next time, per their request.
2) We had a day picked out, but what time on a Saturday? We chose 10 am – 1 pm.
3) I submitted a block party request from the City of Moline at least two weeks before our event. What is this for? So we could close a portion of the street off to set up the tables on the street, not directly on her lawn.
4) Made up a flyer with all the important information: What, when, where, who to contact.
5) Distributed the flyer about 1-2 weeks in advance. Barb and I split up this job. My sons had a box of clear door hangers (when they had a lawn mowing business) collecting dust. So, I put the flyer in the door hanger and distributed to as many as possible. Barb distributed her portion of the flyers by taping the flyer to neighbors doors. Doesn’t matter the method, as long as you can get it to your neighbors. We handed out about 150 flyers.
6) About 1 day before the event, Barb put out some wonderful homemade signs reminding neighbors about the Swap Party! She put the signs on the street corners with the most traffic.
7) One hour before the event, we blocked off the street and set up the tables.
We had about 30 people attend, and lots more neighbors who just dropped off clothes. Check out the great photos below ~