How many things in this world are both cool and free? Well, no matter your answer, listen up: The Portsmouth Public Library has added another one. Plus, it helps you clean out your closet and do some good for those less fortunate.
The Women’s Clothing Swap takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, May 14, in conjunction with the Portsmouth Sustainability Fair. Bring a bag of “gently used, clean women’s clothing and accessories” (leave the stuff you just used for gardening behind) to the Levenson Room of the Portsmouth library. After the swap, you will leave with a bag of “new to you” items. And this year, some of those new-to-you items will come from the generous folks at J.L. Coombs (a fine shoe store), Second Time Around (a classy pre-owned clothing store) and Re-Enhabit (a vintage treasure store, run by the community-building Ms. Jodie).
How did the library come to do this?
Well, the finger would point right to Jennifer Moore, library assistant and organizer of the swap.
“I love vintage, and we moved from the old library, where we didn’t have room for a lot of programs. They decided to open up programs, and voila …”
Normally, Moore sits at a desk, scanning books and such, but her mind goes everywhere from thinking about blogs, like fashionisspinach.com to Morse code. (Visit her Animoto clip: http://animoto.com/play/K8HZCnZeSwVn9upYRGpcpg and see if you can decipher it). The boutiques participating this year came as the result of an open call for participants, and she’s hoping to add even more next year.
“I want it to get bigger every year … to be like Filene’s Basement. A real social event with people bumping into friends,” says Moore. Like Filene’s Basement, minus the pushing and shoving …
Last year the event was visited by more than 200 women and produced more than 1,500 pounds of clothing (the unwanted donated items) that were donated to Goodwill, and Moore said it went super well… “there were even some quiet moments.”
For the second year in a row, the event is also part of the Portsmouth Sustainability Fair, which this year, because of middle school construction, will be held at Little Harbour School. (http://portsmouthsustainabilityfair.org/)
While last year featured some video clips of folks sashaying down the runway on the state-of-the-art Levenson Room movie screen (have you seen this room? It’s crazy nice!), this year the lights won’t be dimmed, so you can see more of the clothing, but you’ll hear a hot mix made by 14-year-old Kirsten Elfe, who also styled the mannequin in the library entrance.
“And it’s a mix made of all music you can get at the library.” Yes, the library has music collections, folks (and a self-checkout station).
Here’s how the day will go: You come in with your bag, you are greeted by Michelle Smith, communications manager for Goodwill Industries of Northern New England (“She’s wonderful,” says Moore), then your bag will be passed to Moore and her helpers, who will sort the clothing by color onto tables. Then, you are given a Goodwill reusable cloth bag to fill with shoes, bags, jewelry, maybe even that “very Band of Outsiders” blazer Moore has her eye on… “It’s real vintage. I love it,” she says.
Last year, Moore arrived to the swap with “a bunch of clothes I no longer wanted and left with the most perfect pleated skirt.” And, teens are welcome too. “I definitely want to encourage teen energy,” she says.
But if you’re looking for clothes for the more wee ones, you’ll want to hold off till the kids clothing swap in the fall.
And here’s the feel-good part: The swap benefits Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, whose local network of thrift stores help to keep usable goods out of the landfill. Revenue from store sales benefits Goodwill’s job training and human services programs.
Plus, it always feels good to get a new pleated skirt.