Uploading hand-me-downs

Published 11:16 pm Friday, November 19, 2010

Dawn Sutton and her 4-year-old daughter, Camdyn, talk in their Suffolk home Friday. Sutton got Camdyn’s dress from thredUP, a clothes-swapping website for parents to give and get gently used children’s clothes.

Getting rid of children’s outgrown clothing has never been easy.

Parents have traditionally been forced to lug their kids’ clothes to a charity, organize a yard sale or slog through the time-consuming process of listing each individual piece on an online auction website. The alternative, of course, is to store the clothes in the attic or spare room.

However, a better solution now exists. A handful of entrepreneurs developed the thredUP website in spring 2009.

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The site allows parents to trade full boxes of gently used kids’ clothes without ever leaving their house. It’s free to send a box to someone else, and receiving a box costs only $5 plus shipping.

“For the name brands like Gymboree and Old Navy and Children’s Place, it’s worth it,” said Dawn Sutton, a Suffolk mother of two who signed up for the site this summer. “I’m pretty picky about what I pick.”

Sutton gets clothes for her 4-year-old daughter, Camdyn, through the site, and also sends the clothing Camdyn has outgrown to other parents.

“I think it’s really easy,” Sutton said. “It’s a great way to get rid of the clothes she no longer wears.”

Parents can browse boxes of clothing posted by others by size, season, gender and whether the boxes are mostly tops, mostly bottoms or mixed. They can also see the number of each type of clothing, the name brands, predominant colors and more. However, the website has no photo posting feature in order to make it as efficient as possible.

Boxes can even be listed by specialty types, such as costumes, Scouting uniforms, Christmas clothes, sports gear and matching sets for twins and triplets.

Parents sending boxes simply pack a medium flat-rate box from the U.S. Postal Service as full as possible and post its details on the site. When it’s picked by another user, home pickup is scheduled by the website so nobody has to leave their house to participate in the swap.

The website works on the honor system that clothes will not be stained, ripped or badly worn. Parents who get boxes with poor-quality clothing have the chance to give the sender a bad review and get a credit for a free box, thereby weeding out those who send worn-out things.

“This is easier than doing a yard sale or saving them for years and years,” Sutton said. “And it’s nice that I can get things for them, too.”

ThredUP is free to use, but paying for a membership ($5 a month or $30 pre-paid for a full year) unlocks convenience features like having “first dibs” on newly-listed boxes. Users can sign in with their Facebook account, so they don’t have to remember another password, Sutton said.

Visit the site at www.thredup.com.