Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Evolution of Gumdrop Swap

It's amazing to me that a year ago, GumdropSwap didn't have a name. It was a crazy idea that came to me in a rare shower. I was a new mom: sleep deprived, emotional, and concerned about my "career" while on maternity leave. I needed a name for my online kids clothing swap club. I had settled on "swap" instead of trade or the like. But any word similar to kid, child, etc associated with swap made it sound like I was trafficking children or trying to copy the tv show Wife Swap. That may make a great reality show. Most parents have thought about trading their kids for ones with better behavior on some days. But I'll let the tv producers have that one. So, I had to find a word that suggested childhood without veering to far in another direction. Candy seemed an obvious choice. I kept thinking of the song "If all of the raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops, oh what a rain that would be..." and that's when I decided gumdrop was generic enough candy reference and drop and swap rhymed. Here is a photo of the retail space after we painted and installed the wall hanging system.

My brother came to visit on his spring break. He is a teacher in Atlanta. My mother's and my birthday are only a few weeks apart so it was a perfect time to visit. He is encouraging with my business and wanted to help while in town so I accelerated the move-in to take advantage of his muscle. My husband and brother moved lots of heavy boxes in 2 storage places to my store in one day.
I didn't realize I had that much merchandise until it was all in one location! Geez. I had some crazy notion I could slowly move everything on my own in my compact car. That would have taken me months! It was a lot of stuff and I'm so glad that part was over. Then, my brother helped me move some things to the basement and begin unpacking and hanging clothes for 2 days. 4 days later and I'm still hanging and unpacking.

I am really proud of my spring window display though. I estimate I'm about 70% done hanging what I have. I'm looking for a creative way to display the 1000s of socks I have. Any suggestions?

If you are thinking of joining the children's clothing swap club (open to all U.S. residents) this month is the end of low introductory membership prices. Only $4.99/month for online members (those who do all swapping via mail and do not come into the bricks-and-mortar boutique in CT. Monthly rate will increase to $8.99 on May 1st, 2010. Confused? Don't be! Feel free to call 800-385-6080 or email gumdropswap(at)gmail(dot)com.

Think of it like this: For online members, your small membership rate ($5/month) allows you to swap as much as you want. You mail your gently used items to the boutique. I go through your box of unwanted items and credit the account you created at GumdropSwap. You will get an alert letting you know you have credits to shop with (called gumdrops). You use the website to select the clothes your children need now. You can even use your earned gumdrops to pay for your outgoing shipping! I pick your items and pack your box and you will get a box of clean, name brand, new and gently used clothes at your doorstep!

For locals that swap and shop in our boutique, the process is slightly different. You don't have to be a member to shop, but the savings is significant if you do. If you're from CT you probably haven't done much shopping downtown. You have no idea what you're missing! The Arcade Mall is one of the oldest indoor malls in the nation and a thing of beauty now that it has been restored. The glass atrium ceiling is breathtaking.
Non-members typically pay between $5-$25 per garment and do not have the privilege of swapping. If you are local to the CT area, the current rate to join is $9.99/mo if you are swapping for one child and an additional $3/month per child for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th child (no additional charge for more than 4 children!) Rates will increase to $14.99/month for 1st child on May 1, 2010. The additional charge for children 2-4 will not increase. Members pay about half the retail prices that non-members pay. And members get to swap their unwanted children's clothing and items into credits that pay for the things they want. This makes it easy to budget for your children's wardrobe. You know they are going to outgrow things. Once you pay the membership fee, those bags of outgrown clothing you are storing in your basement or attic or closet will buy the things your kids need now. A good estimate is a tall kitchen size garbage bag full of clothes usually earns about 200 gumdrop credits. So, if you swapped that much every three months you are paying $15 (online) and $30+ (local) to spend $200 in the store.

Why the difference? Online members pay for shipping coming and going and don't select the exact garments. Instead, they choose the size, gender and type of garment (i.e. 2T, boys, jeans) and I select the nicest garment that matches that description from the vast merchandise available. I am also guided by the style preferences you specify when you register or when you place your order. If there is anything new with the tags still on, that's what you will receive. Customers describe opening a shipment from GumdropSwap as getting a Christmas gift. I use my years in the art and fashion industry as expertise. Below is a photo of the entrance to the Arcade Mall on Main St. (between Fraiche Burger and McDonalds). Then a view of the corridor you walk through to get to the shops in the mall.

Local members have the advantage of rifling through our racks of merchandise. I encourage 1st time swappers to stay to see how I rate the quality of clothing and what kind of items go to charity. But you can drop off your swap if you do not have time to stay. I will credit your account to spend at a later date. Just want to get rid of the clothes? Come on by, I'll buy them from you.


  1. Hey Gaby,
    Its Denise from PR. I am so proud of you and your new boutique - love the colors. I wish you lots of luck in your business.
    God bless always you and all your family,

  2. Thank you for your continuous support and friendship over the years Denise!