South Portland residents invited to shop, swap at new transfer facility

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The city’s first Swap Shop already had a small but diverse collection of items when it opened this week, including doorknobs, ski boots, a lawnmower – even a prosthetic leg. 

The shop is in a building slightly larger than a two-car garage, at the transfer facility in the new Municipal Services complex at 929 Highland Ave. It’s the new place to donate new, used and still-usable household items, or to browse and take someone else’s discards free of charge.

“People have been waiting for this to open and now they’re so excited,” volunteer Jeanne Richmond said at the shop Tuesday morning. 

Richmond was volunteering with Jo-Ann Wiles, a South Portland native. In the first hour the shop was open Tuesday, they said, several people dropped off items and took others home, including the lawnmower and a bed frame. 

“It’s so interesting to see what other people consider trash,” Richmond said. 

Wiley said she loves talking to people when they come in because each person “has a story behind the stuff they give.” 

A swap shop really lends itself to the idea of community-centeredness, Richmond said. 

The Swap Shop was approved last year as part of a $15.7 million multi-building city services project on 9 acres of land adjacent to the capped landfill. Voters approved $14 million in construction bonds in November 2013, along with a $1.7 million capital improvement bond to fund the project. 

The shop and the new transfer facility were part of the first phase of the project. The second phase – the largest part of the project – is underway, with the construction of a 70,000-square-foot building to house the Public Works, Transportation and Parks, Recreation and Waterfront departments. It is expected to be complete by next June. 

Items dropped off at the Swap Shop first have to be approved by an employee at the transfer station. Nonresidents can leave items, but only residents are allowed to take things home. 

Clothing, televisions and computer monitors, large appliances, mattresses, bedding and latex paint are not acceptable.

A swap shop benefits everyone, Richmond and Wiles agreed.

“It’s always been my thinking that if you (tell people) you need something, chances are someone’s probably got it in their attic,” Richmond said. 

A swap shop is just a way to “get all that stuff in one central location,” she added.

The shop is open from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and the city is still looking for volunteer monitors. For more information, call 767-7635.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

The city’s Swap Shop opened Tuesday at the new transfer station at 929 Highland Ave.

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.