Recycling Blog

News from the Swop Stall

Published by Lorna Harvey-Frank on 23 August 2013

Swop Stall August 2013


Give & Take - Swop Stall

The idea for a community Swop Stall was born from a conversation about the Gift Economy and the fact that we all have more stuff than we need.  When we started, we had no idea how to do it or if it would work, but we got going anyway and now, some 3 months on, things are beginning to really take off. 

The ripples of what started with a bit of clutter clearing from our own shelves and cupboards are now spreading as those that came by and took items now bring their return swops to add to the table of goodies.  The chief concern was that at the end of the day we might end up with a ‘pile of stuff’ in the middle of the High Street.  But magically, and with a lot of fun, everything seems to find a home by the end of the day, leaving just a few oddments in the box to be stored away ready for starting off next time. We’ve had a wide range of swop items:  pretty summer skirts and tops, jewellery, plates, cups and glasses, bed linen, fabric remnants, garden tools, children’s toys, books, DVD’s , computer accessories and even a Scalextric set.  The fastest swop to date was an electric sander – gone in 5 minutes;  the most amusing perhaps, a nodding dog, which made a whimsical birthday gift, closely followed by the 'racing grannies'! The plant and seedling swop in May was very popular.  If anyone has a glut of vegetables in the garden, how about a vegetable swop?  Possibly the most unusual so far was a standing wrought iron candelabra.

At first people sometimes felt uncomfortable about just taking something, it felt awkward.  We are conditioned to see everything in terms of monetary value. But value is really quite relative.  Something I might no longer cherish could still be of value to someone else.  It is really refreshing to watch items come and go with a ‘smile’ and a ‘thank you’, it leaves you with a warm fuzzy glow and a sense of satisfaction.  What started as a project for keeping things out of landfill is sowing the seeds of something greater.  Unlike Freegle, swopping on the High Street gives a feeling of connection, a chance to meet and share with others, an experience of the potential of community, and if you’d like to trade time for a swop and help out on the stall for an hour or two, you’d be very welcome.

We still have a couple of things on our ‘big items’ list to find homes for:  a child’s bike (suitable for a 5/6 year old), a piano (needs tuning), but the shelves have gone!  Maybe one of these has got your name on them?  Come along to the next Marlborough Communities Market on Sunday 1st September (and  15th September), from 10-4pm,  and get swopping!