Photo: Ali McPherson
Stop ‘N’ Swap coordinator Ida Yu makes a note inviting the public to stop in. Photo: Ali McPherson

Bronxites gathered around racks of clothes and tables piled with shoes and apparel on a sunny fall day on East 142nd street.

GrowNYC and the South Bronx Farmers Market coordinated a free clothing swap, an offshoot of the popular Stop ‘N’ Swap reuse program. The organization accepts clothing, electronics, books—anything that is clean and portable. Books are donated to Bronx Bound Books run by LaTanya De Vaughn.

The free clothing swap took place in front of Gotham Health NYC, which allowed the organization to set up the market free of charge.

Ida Yu, one of the Stop ‘N’ Swap coordinators, said she is always excited to see the things people walk away with. Yu said that the items people donate go back into the community the same day, and any unwanted items are brought to other local organizations to donate.

Mott Haven residents Mary Mitchell and Gina Rose looked around for tops and pants. It was Mitchell’s second time at the clothing swap, while Rose had attended a few times during the year. Mitchell looks forward to these events.

“It helps people, it supplements income, and allows people to do their spring cleaning,” said Mitchell, 40. 

“I love free stuff! I love giving away stuff I don’t use, as long as they don’t fight over it,” said Sandra Rodriguez, 61, before dashing off to look at a pair of dark colored pants. She came back a few minutes later having missed her opportunity to swipe it in time. Rodriguez had two shopping carts filled with clothes that she was trading in.

According to Yu, one of the most satisfying parts of the job is watching people connect with each other over things they’ve grown out of or want to take home.

Over by the racks of clothes, Mitchell and Rose began to argue over stop n swap etiquette.

Yu noticed the confrontation but said arguing over items wasn’t a common occurrence. 

“Everybody comes out a winner at the end of a Stop ‘N’ Swap,” she said.

Stop ‘N’  Swap coordinators laid out shoes, accessories, and clothes in order along four tables. More women entered the space and went directly to the tables before going to the racks of clothes.

Mitchell held up a few shirts for Sandra to look at.

“Do you like this? It’s a small,” said Mitchell. She handed her the lime green top. 

“Oh, I love the style!” said Rodriguez as she held it against her to see how it would fit. It was a keeper.

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