Clothes-knit community: Swap Maine returns to Portland

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PORTLAND — “Brace yourself. Winter is coming.”

That, according to posters around town, is the reason to bring used clothes to trade this weekend at Swap Maine.

In May, a group of fashion bloggers from Portland organized the first Swap Maine event at Headgames on Free Street. Approximately 250 people showed up, donating bags of used clothing, and rummaging through boxes and racks of other people’s used clothing to refresh their wardrobes.

“It’s going to be nice to have more space this time,” said one of the organizers, Laura Duplissis, who blogs about fashion and food on sweetersalt.com.

On Oct. 29, swappers will take over the cafeteria at the East End Community School, 195 North St. From 10 a.m. to noon, there will be a free breakfast with coffee donated by Coffee by Design and pastries from local bakeries. After the jolt of sugar and caffeine, the doors will open.

From noon until 3 p.m., people can rummage through a wide variety of clothes – organized by men’s and women’s, then by type of clothes, such as sweaters, jackets, jeans, accessories – until they fill their cloth Swap Maine bag.

“It’s an organized chaos,” Duplissis said.

She suggested swappers come prepared, wearing layers they can strip off, and bags that sling over the shoulder to free up rummaging hands. Some people have worn bike shorts under their clothes so they could try on pants right on the spot, she said.

This time, Goodwill has provided more racks, so more items will be hung up and organized. The whole event benefits Goodwill in several ways: Proceeds are donated entirely to the Goodwill of Northern New England, and at the end of the day, all the extra clothes go to Goodwill stores.

“Last time they had about 1,000 pounds of clothes after the swap,” Duplissis said.

Tickets cost $10 if you don’t bring a bag of your own clothes to donate, $5 if you do. If you drop a bag off between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday night at the East End School before the swap, you get a free ticket.

Everyone gets one raffle ticket, too, Duplissis said. The raffle is for items donated by local businesses, including jewelry and gift cards. Additional raffle tickets will be for sale.

Duplissis said she and her fellow organizers hope the Swap Maine event will become a twice-a-year, spring and fall event.

“We hope to see it continuing, getting more local businesses involved,” she said. “We’d like it to be something everyone anticipates.”

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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The “organized chaos” at last May’s first Swap Maine event as attendees sort through piles of donated clothes. The second Swap Maine event is scheduled to take place at the East End Community School on North Street from noon to 3 p.m. on Oct. 29.

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