VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – This holiday season, with inflation and supply chain issues lingering, one local group is boasting the success of its swap group. Everything posted must be free.
It seems these types of groups are part of a growing trend. One national effort known as the Buy Nothing Project has more than 4.27 million members. One of the main goals is to build communities and create a cleaner planet.
In southern Virginia Beach, Misty Brownell created a group after being encouraged by her sister-in-law who lives near Philadelphia and has participated in such sites. Brownell is a busy managing broker with Atlantic Sotheby's International Realty, but the COVID pandemic gave her a little more time. That's when she started the Facebook group: April of 2020. It now has more than 2,300 members, and one of the main rules is that anything posted on the site is given for free to the first person to respond. Also, those giving and taking must be within the immediate geographical region to keep swapping hyperlocal. This particular one is called Sandbridge and Kellam District Neighborhood Swap. Before being admitted, administrators will ensure the person joining lives in the neighborhood.
Items on the site aren’t just free moving boxes or junk. Everything from books to bikes, puzzles, and prom dresses are posted. One woman even posted new items from her home interior boutique which was closing.
Gratitude posts will pop up on occasion and seem to really make those giving feel appreciated. One Virginia Beach woman posted that she received a baby monitor which she used to keep an eye on her elderly, ill mother at night.
"I love the gratitude posts, because they show us what happened with what they claimed and how it affected their life," said Brownell. "That to me is one of the best types of posts I see on here."
Some members say they like the idea of not sending items to the landfill; rather feeling joy by seeing someone else use their unused items. One mother posted photos of her son in his college dorm room which was fully furnished and accessorized by the generosity of the swap group.
Brownell encourages others to see if their neighborhood has a similar group and if not, create one.
"I’m happy to give you the rules, the tools, and how to create it," Brownell added.