swap

Recently I have discovered the world of swap pages. A friend of mine was telling me about how she was addicted to a particular swap page and couldn’t stop buying stuff off it. I didn’t understand until I joined the swap page myself. Then I realized how awesome it was. Here are the reasons why I absolutely LOVE my swap page.

1. It is green!

People are buying, selling, and swapping things that may otherwise end up in the landfill. The best way to buy new stuff is to buy it used – it’s getting more use out of something before it is discarded, preventing needless waste. Even if you donate your unwanted stuff to Goodwill or Value Village, they may not be able to sell it all – so it ends up getting thrown out. The swap site is perfect for solving this problem!

2. It is frugal.

You will get things for a fraction of the retail price on a swap site. I’ve seen all manner of baby gear, clothes, housewares, designer shoes and purses, etc on the swap, for extremely low prices. On the flip side, when you are trying to get rid of your own stuff, you can make a few bucks back if it happens to be exactly what someone else is looking for!

3. It is local.

The swap sites I know of are based on a specific area. So you don’t need to drive far to do pickups and dropoffs, and if you’re doing several pickups, they are likely close together, saving on the cost and use of gas.

4. It is a community.

The members on my swap site really seem to like each other, comment on each other’s posts with jokes and fun, and are polite and respectful of claiming dibs on an item. I witnessed one interaction where one member was commenting on swap items while on vacation in Hawaii! And expressed how happy she was to have gotten outfits for her vacation from the swap page.

I asked the administrators of my favourite swap site to answer some questions for me about what how to run a swap page, and what makes it such a success.

1. What made you decide to start and be involved in managing a swap page?

Admin 1: A couple of us were on some local swap pages. We had some interactions with each other through buying and selling and decided we would like to try running our own page, with our own twist. We had witnessed all types of swaps: rigid, rude, poorly managed, rude member interactions, swaps with border rules, swaps with no rules, etc. We thought maybe we could combine everything we liked and make our own page!

Admin 2: Getting involved in this swap page was something I wanted to do mainly because I saw the potential of what pages like these have to offer, but there are many out there that aren’t fun / aren’t personable. While we recognize this page isn’t a chatroom, we still want to keep things fun and that often means allowing some random conversations to take place.

2. What do you think has made your swap page so successful?

Admin 1: Thank you for saying it is a success! It is definitely a work in progress. We always liked the idea that we are all adults and we should treat each other as such. I think we all have a genuine interest in the people on the page, we have come to know them personally either through Facebook interactions or in person, swapping transactions. We are strong believers in Karma. We want our swap page to be a safe place to buy and sell, we attempt to treat our members as we would like to be treated. We don’t have set borders for our page. We are called the [local area] swap, but a large minority of members do not live in the specific area. We feel that we are a small community. We have come to know each other and our swap page is a safe place to buy and sell. An address doesn’t define you nor should it define where you are allowed to shop! While we have rules, there are exceptions to rules. Life happens, and being rigid and stern isn’t always best practice.

Admin 2: I think our success stems from the fact that we keep things light, and treat everyone like adults. We have also introduced a home business day, which takes place one day a month and has been welcomed warmly by our group. Occasionally we have collected donations to help families in need (families new to Canada, or families going through difficult health issues). All of this combined makes our page stand apart from others.

3. How do you control for people who may be inappropriate or trying to take advantage of others on the swap page?

Admin 1: We joke that we, as admin, are passive aggressive in our leadership. I guess that is true to an extent, however when need be we are stern and handle issues or problems quickly and directly. Obviously our goal is to make a decision or suggestion that will make everybody happy. In real life, that doesn’t always work. We have only had to ask a few members to leave since our inception. These members were either abusive towards other members (or us), refused to abide by our flimsy rules (after several passive aggressive messages) or weren’t on the page to swap. We are fairly tolerant of all kinds of personalities on the page. We have a lot of fun and poke harmless fun at each other. However when we witness rudeness and outright defiance of the rules, we act (usually discussing it among admin in a private PM first to get consensus). It is not fair to anybody to ignore that type of behaviour.

Admin 2: Thankfully we haven’t had to deal with many unruly folk on this page. There have been some minor issues like someone is unhappy about where someone else lives for example, but we have been clear in the rules that ads state locations (So if you don’t like where someone lives, don’t buy from them!). We’ve seen people turn ads into an ethical debate when they disagree with an item listed, and most recently we’ve had someone comment on how they disagree with items priced on the lower end (under $5).

4. What are some things you wish you had known when you first started the swap page?

How time consuming it would be! Honestly, my phone is buzzing all day. I feel because I am one of the admin, that I need to be accessible. While I may not be available at all hours of the day or night, I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can.

The friendships I have made through meeting people both in texting only and in real life! I have never met one of my co-admins in real life. We needed another admin, really liked her personality on the swap and asked her to join our team. While we have never met, I now consider her a friend and value her opinion and extra set of eyes on the page.

The negatives bug me, A LOT! I know I shouldn’t let the little things get to me, but I do. It’s not always roses and sunshine on the swap page. Some days are busier and more hectic than others, which sometimes brings up issues. As mentioned before, there isn’t always a great solution for everybody involved. I tend to take things personally, when I shouldn’t.

 5. What advice would you give someone starting a brand new swap page?

  • Don’t take things personally!!
  • Plan to spend a lot of time on the page. Be active and reachable.
  • Troll a few other pages to grab the best of everything, borrowing ideas from here or there will make your page the best it can be
  • Don’t be scared to put some of your personality into your page, it shows the human side to things and members appreciate that
  • Have your rules outlined, and be ready (and willing) to make modifications as you go.
  • Have fun!

Here are some common acronyms you may encounter on a swap page:

  • EUC: Excellent Used Condition
  • GUC: Good Used Condition
  • NWT: New With Tags
  • NWOT: New Without Tags
  • NIB: New In Box
  • PPU: Pending Pick Up
  • TIA: Thanks In Advance
  • ISO: In Search Of

There you have it! Some great reasons to join or start a swap page – saving money and going green at the same time!

Happy swapping!