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Parenting

This kids' consignment site makes it easy to clear out their closets

Trade their outgrown clothes for ones that are new-to-you.

A young girl wearing a pink sundress and dancing with a wand Credit: Reviewed / Lisa Lawrence

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If you're anything like me, you're constantly caught off guard by the arrival of a new season... and the discovery that your children have outgrown all of their seasonally-appropriate clothes.

Sure, I try to plan ahead, but it often feels like one day it's freezing and then the next day it's hotter than mid-July, and my kids don't have a single pair of shorts that fit. But buying a new wardrobe for two kids every season (that's four times a year!) can be prohibitively expensive—not to mention irresponsible, considering the terrifying amount of textiles that end up in landfills.

As part of my ongoing effort to live a more sustainable life (as well as save money), kids' consignment shops have been my go-to destination since I first became a parent. When my local consignment shop closed, and COVID kept me from venturing further afield, I began to think that my days of saving both money and the earth were over. That is, until I discovered The Swoondle Society.

What is The Swoondle Society?

Founded by a Brooklyn-based mom of two kids, The Swoondle Society is, essentially, an online swap meet for children's clothing. Members send in the clothes their children have outgrown, and then receive trading credits that they can then use to "shop" for new duds on The Swoondle Society website.

How does The Swoondle Society work?

Once you sign-up for a membership, you can request a prepaid, reusable trade-in bag. When it arrives, fill it up with all of your children's outgrown clothes and shoes, and then pop it in the mail back to The Swoondle Society. They process and value each of the enclosed items—from level 1 to level 5—and credit your account accordingly.

In order to be eligible for credit, clothing that is sent in must be clean, not stained or damaged, and a reputable brand. The Swoondle Society will responsibly recycle anything that you inadvertently send in that's damaged or too worn.

The point values assigned to the clothes you send in are commensurate with the item's worth. For instance, a Gucci dress will warrant a level 5 rating, while a T-shirt from Kohl's will get a 1 or 2, depending on brand and quality. Once The Swoondle Society assigns your points values, you can then use those points to "shop" for clothes with the same values—essentially a "like-for-like" swap.

How much does The Swoondle Society cost?

Membership costs $15 a month, which entitles members to five free trades and one free order shipment per month. Additional trades cost $4 per item, and an additional trade-in bag costs $5. An initial trade-in bag is included with membership, and a trade-in bag is included with every order. Members also get 15% off any cash purchases or trade upgrades.

Non-members can purchase a trade-in bag for $10, and clothing items range in price from $6 to $54.

What we traded

A woman's hands holding a bag while kids fill it with clothing.
Credit: Reviewed / Lisa Lawrence

The Swoondle Society's trade-in bag is reusable and sturdy.

So far, I've "completed the Swoondle cycle" twice, which means I've sent in two bags of clothes, and shopped twice. For my first trade-in bag, I sent in 16 items, and received credit for 13 (the rest were responsibly recycled). The points I received included: one level 1; seven level 2; three level 3; and two level 4.

My second trade-in bag included 30 pieces, and I received credit for 22 of them. My points breakdown for that bag was: two level 1; eight level 2; nine level 3; and three level 4.

I was surprised that so many pieces from my second trade-in bag got recycled—I didn't realize there were so many holes!—but as a "shopper" I appreciate that The Swoondle Society is picky about what they choose to list for sale.

What we got

A young boy smiling and wearing a T-shirt
Credit: Reviewed / Lisa Lawrence

A soft grey shirt from 7 For All Man Kind was one of our trades.

With Spring Break travel in mind, I decided to use my Swoondle points to stock up on beachy pieces for my kids. I had hoped to find some shorts and T-shirts for my son, but there were very few available in his size. I suspect that as the weather begins to warm up and parents realize that their kids have grown out of all their summer togs the number of available items will grow, but as of this month the pickings are slim. I did get him a grey T-shirt from 7 for All Mankind (point level 3). It's super thick and "hot" according to him, so he's not a huge fan, but it's soft and good quality.

A young girl holding a bouquet of flowers, wearing a pink sundress
Credit: Reviewed / Lisa Lawrence

This sweet Cat & Jack sundress has become a favorite wardrobe item.

I fared better with regards to pieces for my daughter. I got her three cute pairs of shorts—Gap (level 2), Monteau (level 2), and Crewcuts (level 3)—as well as a Cat & Jack dress (level 1), One Step Up sundress (level 2), Mini Boden T-shirt (level 3), Crewcuts tank top (level 3), and Cat & Jack leggings (level 1). She loved everything I selected, and I can see her wearing them a lot as the weather gets warmer.

What we like about The Swoondle Society

A girl wearing a pair of pink striped shorts and a t-shirt
Credit: Reviewed / Lisa Lawrence

Soft—and versatile—shorts will be great for the hot summer months.

It's sustainable

One of the aspects I love most about The Swoondle Society is that their trade-in bags really and truly are reusable. I assumed when the website said "reusable shipping bag" that I would receive a plastic bag that could be reused once or twice, but this is a sturdy, custom-designed cloth bag that can be used again and again and again. A zip closure and an outer plastic pocket that holds the shipping label makes it especially easy to fill up your trade-in bag and send it on its way.

They're fast—and transparent

It takes about a week for The Swoondle Society to process all the items in your trade-in bag, after which time they'll send you a detailed email with a list of all the items they accepted, and the point values that were assigned. They also list any items that were recycled and the reason why they didn't make the cut. I appreciated that the email included thumbnail photos of each item since I couldn't remember what I'd sent in.

It's so easy

Have you seen that meme that was going around a year or so ago about filling your trunk up with donations and then driving around with them for six months? Hi, it's me. I never seem to have the time to drop the kids' outgrown clothing at Goodwill, but I don't want it to go to waste, either. The Swoondle Society makes it so easy to clear out your children's outgrown clothes—you don't even have to leave your house! Plus I like knowing that they're recycling anything that can't be sold, and not just throwing it in the trash.

It's reasonably priced

Assuming that one uses all five of their included monthly trades, the cost works out to $3 per piece of clothing. I think that's a serious bargain, especially when you factor in that you're also helping to keep clothes out of landfills.

What we don't like about The Swoondle Society

Too few trades

I wish that members got more than five free trades per month. Since I've sent in a lot of outgrown clothing over the past two months—35 pieces to be exact—I have lots of points that I won't be able to use easily. On the one hand that sounds like a good thing, but since I almost always have more clothing to trade in, I wish that members received 10 free trades, rather than five. It is worth noting that you can donate and gift extra trades, which is probably what I'll end up doing.

Not enough selection

As is the case with most consignment situations, the selection of clothing for boys is pretty limited. I don't know why this always seems to be the case—Are boys harder on their clothes? Do people not buy as many clothes for boys?—but it's an issue I consistently encounter when attempting to shop used for my son. There weren't a ton of choices of items or brands that my son liked, which means I'm still stuck buying mostly new clothes for his wardrobe.

Should you join The Swoondle Society?

Whether you're in need of some motivation to clean out your children's closets, want to save money, or desire to take a small step towards living a more sustainable life, The Swoondle Society is the answer. It makes it quick and easy to give clothes your kids' have outgrown a new life, and it provides an affordable way to add a few new pieces to their wardrobes all at the same time. Plus you can feel great about the fact that you're doing your own small part towards keeping more clothes out of landfills. That's what I call a win for parents and for Mother Earth.

Join The Swoondle Society

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