Swap Don’t Shop encourages second-hand clothing

The Swap Don't Shop pop-up shop gave the NIU community the opportunity to pick up free used men's and women's clothing Thursday. 

Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — Students and DeKalb residents who needed to update their closet got the chance to do so for free at the Swap Don’t Shop event in the Chick Evans Fieldhouse. As long as a customer brings in an item of clothing, they can swap it out for a new piece.

NIU Recreation and Wellness and Go Green NIU hosted the event for the second time Thursday and plan to host it again from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 28 and April 25 in the Chick Evans Fieldhouse, Room 154.

The shop accepts gently used clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children. They also accept small household items but no large electronics.

Hayley Wegrzyn, senior environmental studies major, has been part of Swap Don’t Shop since it began in 2016. Wegrzyn said she and her best friend ran the event out of her house when it started, using clothes from their closets.

“We made the shop to show that we don’t have to buy brand new clothes to get new things,” Wegrzyn said. “Each year it got bigger and better, and it has been amazing to watch it grow.”

Wegrzyn said the shop helps both the environment and those struggling financially.

“We have a lot of single parents on this campus, and it has also been brought to my attention that there is a large homeless population,” Wegrzyn said. “This event helps people out because it’s all free.”

Junior geography major Andrea Marquardt volunteers at the shop and said bringing in old clothes and swapping them out for new ones is Earth-friendly.

“Instead of purchasing brand new items, you can swap out gently used items here, and it’s a good way to recycle,” Marquardt said. “There are these crashes that everyone is struggling with, so coming here is a good way to revitalize your closet.”

Marquardt also said it’s a great opportunity for college students because college gets more expensive each year; the shop takes the pressure off of students to spend money at the mall.

Graduate student Yogada Kancharla is a volunteer at the shop and said she encourages students to come to the event because it’s not just clothes; it’s furniture, shoes, kitchen supplies and more.

“It’s economical for the student, and it’s better for the environment,” Kancharla said. “We would suggest students drop in here sometime just to check out the stuff, market and spread awareness.”

Kancharla also said the shop is a step towards helping the environment. She said the plastic tags and hangers clothing stores in the mall would use is damaging to the environment so swapping and not shopping is better.

Bianka Rios, a senior human resources major, said she had heard about the event online and wanted to check it out for herself.

“I wanted to see how the shop works, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Rios said. ”It’s a good way to find new clothes and recycle the ones you’re not using because someone else might make use of them.”

Wegrzyn said they ask students to bring clothes to donate or food items for the food pantry.  She said if there is a situation where a student needs things but doesn’t have anything to donate, they understand and just want to help.

“We want to show people how awesome thrifting can be for not only our wallets but our environment too,” Wegrzyn said.