Whether you’d like to clear out some inventory or showcase new products, hosting a “Swap & Shop” event is a great way to get your customers to come in and see what you have to offer. And it couldn’t be easier: all they have to do to receive a discount on new apparel is bring in their old, gently-worn school gear. They’ll love the opportunity to refresh their wardrobe (just in time for spring), clean out their closets and — because you’re combining the event with a donation drive for a local charity — participate in a great cause!
Swap & Shop!
You could hold a standard donation drive at any point during the year, but what sets this event apart is that it specifically highlights the school apparel your store sells. Because of this, it may be most effective to time it for a change in seasons, or if you get in a new product line or style you’d like to promote.
To participate, your customers will bring in their old (but clean) school sweatshirts or t-shirts in good condition and exchange them for a discount towards new merchandise. Here’s the fun part: The particulars of the swap are entirely up to you!
Download: all Swap & Shop marketing materials
Decide on the details
- Choose which items you’ll accept: sweatshirts, t-shirts and pants are likely to be safe bets, but you may want to steer clear of more personal accessories like hats (and definitely exclude very personal items like undergarments of any kind)
- Establish what they can receive a discount toward (strictly apparel or anything with the school name or logo?)
- Do they have to purchase something at the time or will you distribute coupons for use at a later date?
- Encourage other donations. While your customers would have to meet the requirements of the event to be eligible for their discount, it’s a perfect opportunity for them to get rid of other unwanted items as well.
Set the sale
- Keep it simple with a defined percentage off, no matter how many items they bring in
- Or allow them to earn a stackable discount, depending on the quantity they donate. For example, one item would get 10% off, two would be 15%, and so on (to the maximum you set)
- Be sure to be clear with any exclusions
Pro tip: Make it interesting with a little competition!
Offer a prize for the most unusual or most vintage item. Prizes could include gift certificates to your store or even a free apparel item of the winner’s choice. Once you’ve selected your winners and handed out prizes, set these items aside for use in future displays or promotions highlighting your school’s history.
Coordinate with a charity*
Since you’ll be donating the items you receive, check into local charities and shelters to find out drop off times or to schedule a pickup. Verify what types of items they need in advance.
*Depending on how you structure the event, the charity you work with may want to have representatives present to sign up volunteers. Or you could simply distribute information on their behalf.
Pick a date
To maximize the amount of donations you receive, you may want to accept them for a longer period of time (like a week) and hand out coupons to the participants. Or you could turn it into more of an event and accept donations for a single day or weekend. Having refreshments or prizes on hand to give out will make it even more fun for your customers.
Designate an area
Set up a table with bins or boxes nearby to hold the donated items and make sure you have enough employees scheduled to check the condition of the donations and hand out coupons.
Promote the event
Download: Swap & Shop social media marketing kit
Use the free marketing materials included in this plan to spread the word and generate some excitement. Hang up your customized posters around campus, put custom table tents in the areas where students gather and get the conversation going on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the images we’ve provided.
Analyze your results
What sort of feedback did you get? Was the turnout what you anticipated? What will you change for the next time?