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  • Writer's pictureSteph Holmes

How to Host a Secondhand Art Supply Swap

If you are creative chances are you have a drawer, a closet, or a corner packed with art and craft supplies you don't even use. Because my own closet is full of unused supplies and I'm always looking for new ways to be more eco-friendly in my art studio, I came up with this idea to host a Secondhand Art Supply Swap.

A Secondhand Art Supply Swap is a fun event. Some participants bring their unwanted art and craft supplies, and everyone picks through the boxes and takes what they want. We decided it's not even necessary to bring supplies in order to participate in our event. Just show up and help us all by taking what you can use! The end result is that everyone gets to go home with free, new-to-them supplies.

I teamed up with my friend Jen Simon and we hosted our first Swap last month! With minimal planning, prep work, and space rental costs, we hosted about eighteen Swappers who were clamoring for another event before the first was even finished. I want to share exactly how you can host your own Secondhand Art Supply Swap event in your community too.

Why Does Your Community Need A Swap?

Of the number of reasons to host this event, here are some of my favorite points: First, redistributing your unused items back into the community and using secondhand art supplies instead of buying new ones are two powerful ways to be more sustainable.

Another massive benefit is that by eliminating the exchange of money, you are making expensive art materials accessible to people who may not have the means to purchase new.

Third, regular purging of our creative supplies can spark new ideas, remind us of what we have and keep our spaces feeling harmonious. I personally tend to avoid sitting down at my desk if there's a big mess on it, and removing the supplies I don't use helps me to keep things organized.

Lastly, the one benefit that I underestimated is that our Secondhand Art Supply Swap was a great way to see old friends and connect with new like-minded people! It turned out to be a great creative networking opportunity.

So it's a sustainable, affordable, and creative community-oriented experience? Let's do this!

How to Host A Secondhand Art Supply Swap

Step 1: Determine a location. Select a location that can accommodate a relatively large group of people and either has tables available or would be easy to set up a group of tables. We opted for renting a park pavilion because a) tables and chairs, b) can fit a large group of people, c) protects us if it rains, d) keeps everyone safer during COVID times, allowing those that need to be ultra-cautious a chance at participating.

Step 2: Set a date. Based upon your location's availability, set a date and time that you think would be easy for most of your audience to attend. If you aren't sure, ask! We set our event for two hours on a Sunday afternoon.

Step 3: Set clear expectations for participants. You'll want to consider writing up a list of basic expectations for people. This list should answer all the major questions someone might have before deciding to join. Not only does this limit the number of questions you'll need to answer later, but it will give people a clear idea about whether they want to participate in the first place.

A bit more on this... basic event planning strategy will tell you to sit down and imagine your way through the entire event as if you were a participant who knew nothing about it. Imagine the questions you would have as you discover the event, as you prepare your art supplies in the weeks leading up to the event, questions upon arrival, and questions about set up. What supplies can I bring? Where do I park? What happens when/if I have leftover supplies? Can I leave them with the organizers or am I in charge of taking them with me? And so on. Answer all these questions in the description of the event.

Step 4: Spread the word. Create a flier, a poster, a social media post, a video, etc. to spread the word to others. Contact local art organizations to share with their communities, contact your local newspaper and partner up with other creatives to spread the word even further than possible with just your individual reach. Market your event so your creative community knows about it!

Step 5: De-clutter your own stuff to bring!

Step 6: Send reminders out to participants the week of. Creative people are notoriously busy. If you send a reminder, I promise you you'll have more people that show up :)

Step 7: Show up and swap! Enjoy the event you've organized. It's such a great feeling to gather your community in such a helpful way.

Attend Our Next Swap!

Are you local to York, PA? Join us for our next Secondhand Art Supply Swap. RSVP here and show up on November 6!

Feel free to comment below with any questions, ideas or suggestions you might have... AND especially let me know if you create your own Secondhand Art Supply Swap! I'd love to help you promote the event and add you to the list.

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