Wednesday, October 14, 2009
During the fall of 1992, Alpine Shop owner Russell Hollenbeck created an event to help area families sell the outdoor gear and clothing they no longer used. Sixteen years later, Alpine Shop’s Swap Festivals continue to give area families that same opportunity while also helping the store provide tens of thousands of dollars to worthwhile organizations.
The Winter Swap Festival is a consignment-based sale the Alpine Shop hosts each October. Anyone is invited to bring in used winter clothing, skis and snowboards to sell for two and a half days in a 10,000 square foot tent Alpine Shop pitches on the South parking lot of its Kirkwood location.
“Everyone is looking for the least expensive way to keep their families warm this winter. Especially for their kids,” says Hollenbeck. ”With as quickly as they grow out of everything, chances are the jacket they wore last year won’t fit them today. At least with the Swap, they can sell that old coat and find a different one for this year.”
Sixteen years ago, the first Swap was held in a 20’ by 20’ tent in the small parking lot of Alpine Shop’s old Webster Groves location. The tent has grown to more than five times that size now and the line has grown as long as up to 1000 people for the first Friday night of Swap.
The first night of the Swap festival is also the main fundraising effort of the weekend. Everyone 13 years or older pays $5 to get into the tent. Every penny of that money goes to a particular charity. This year that organization is the Gateway Disabled Ski Program – a not-for-profit recreational ski program for children and adults with disabilities. Not only do they work with the physically disabled, visually and hearing impaired, mentally challenged, developmentally disabled and behaviorally challenged athletes, they also work with such worthy programs as the Special Olympics and with wounded veterans and recovering active duty soldiers. Alpine Shop is proud to assist them in their efforts through the Swap.
Customers continue to bring in their used outdoor winter clothing and gear each year. Alpine Shop accepts an average of over 2,500 items into the Swap tent for each Winter Swap. It takes a full-time staff just to keep track of it all, especially making sure every item is correctly accounted for at the cash registers and then getting the consignment payment into the seller’s hands.
The items that find new homes during Swap are not only a few extra dollars for the seller, but also a few pounds of gear that are saved from filling up our junkyards. Even gear that doesn’t sell has a chance to make a difference instead of just being pitched. Participants can mark on their consignment contracts that they would like Alpine Shop to donate the gear to the charity of Alpine Shop’s choosing if the item doesn’t sell.
Alpine Shop’s 16th Annual Winter Swap begins Friday, October 23 at 7 pm at Alpine Shop’s Kirkwood location and continues through Sunday, October 25. Customers can begin bringing their used gear to sell on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at the Kirkwood Alpine Shop only.
For more information visit alpineshop.com/swap.htm.