By Lisa Orkin Emmanuel, Associated Press Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Kelly Trella has found a way to get rid of her 2-year-old son's old clothes: She swaps them.
Trella was looking for a way to clear out her basement when she stumbled upon a magazine article about thredUP, a children's clothes swapping website. She signed up and has been swapping gently used clothes from her Meriden, Conn., home ever since.
"Its cost-effectiveness is terrific. It's really great to have an opportunity to share with folks around the country," she said.
ThredUP launched in mid-April and now has 15,000 members with another 1,000 being added each week. Founder and CEO James Reinhart says the Cambridge, Mass.-based company is trying to attract parents who are buying back-to-school clothes, which, he says, is one of the largest one-shot expenditures for families during the year.
That thredUP even exists is surely driven by the economy, but there are other ways to swap clothes.
The national retail chain Once Upon A Child sells new and gently used products. These days people who once only dropped off clothes are buying them, too, said Dawn Weston, owner of the franchise in Brandon, Fla.
"More people are being conservative. They are being conscious of what they spend," she said. "They didn't have to worry about it before. They still want their kids to have those really nice things, but they don't have the bucks to do it."
Online back-to-school swapping was a natural extension of clothing rental sites for grown-ups. At renttherunway.com, a $1,050 Herve Leger dress can be rented for $150, "to give every woman in American access to this Cinderella experience," said co-founder and CEO Jennifer Hyman. Expectant mothers can rent a pretty dress at RentMaternityWear.com.
ThredUP partnered with a Boston charity Cradle to Crayons to give $1 from every swap to the charity to help clothe children and buy them school supplies.