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Parents save cash by trading toys online

Social media changes the world of barter, and one mom gets a PlayStation 2, clothes and toys for $45.

By Teresa Mears Dec 20, 2010 5:16PM

As the holidays approached, the users of ThredUp, an online children's clothing exchange, wanted a place to trade toys. So they started exchanging toys on the site.

James Reinhart, one of the founders, heard their plea, and on Dec. 6 officially added toys to the service. It's one of many avenues resourceful parents have used this year to save money by trading toys their kids no longer use for toys they want.


"People are realizing that thrift isn't a bad word," John Gerzema, author of the new book "Spend Shift," told the Chicago Tribune. "And we're very comfortable using social tools. The old way of spending doesn't have to happen. We can rent it, borrow it, trade it."


The desire to save money, coupled with the reach of social media, has drastically changed the way people barter or pass on goods they no longer need. Once you had only younger siblings, cousins and perhaps neighbors with whom to exchange gently used goods. Now you have the world. As the Tribune reported:

The turn of events at ThredUp signals how dramatically shopping is changing in the wake of the Great Recession. Stung by the global financial crisis, plugged into social media and worried about the future of the environment, consumers are taking matters into their own hands, finding ways to get what they want without cash and without going to the mall.

Stephanie Edwards-Musa of Houston got her 13-year-old daughter a PlayStation 2 and clothes from Hollister and Aeropostale. She got a bunch of Star Wars toys for her 5-year-old son. The gifts cost her a total of $45 to acquire from ThredUp.


She told The Associated Press: "I've always been frugal, but the PlayStation was my best Friday doorbuster yet."


ThredUp supplies participants with flat-rate shipping boxes. You list what you have to swap on the site. To claim a box from another family, you pay $5 to ThredUp and $10.70 for shipping. The participants rate the quality of the items they receive.


AP and the Tribune listed several other places parents are swapping toys and children's clothes:

Rachel Botsman, co-author of "What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption," says there are thousands of online "swap meets" being created around the world. She told the Tribune:

Technology creates the efficiency to match millions of 'haves' with millions of 'wants,' whatever they may be, as well as the social glue to create trust between strangers. Swapping can provide almost as much choice as traditional shopping.

Have you done any bartering, either online or among people in your town? Do you find any of these services useful?


More from MSN Money:

Dec 20, 2010 5:31PM
I will get used clothes or toys from freecycle or goodwill, but I wouldn't give them as gifts.  I think it's tacky and who knows if you are getting all the pieces to something?  I've certainly gotten things from goodwill or freecyle and told my kids where I've gotten them, so it's not like they think they are completely spoiled or something.  But I wouldn't wrap it as a gift. 
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