Swap sites gaining popularity

Some users like to save a few bucks, while others want to save the planet

Online swap services involving items such as books, DVDs - and, call me surprised -- children's clothing are experiencing a growth spurt.

From This morning's Boston Globe:

Swaptree and thredUP, both in the Boston area, are based on the premise that swapping, a skill most of us learned at the primary school lunch table, is overdue for a comeback. But this time around, the trading is aided by sophisticated algorithms that enable three-way swaps, and it's powered by technology that can calculate the relative values of a wide variety of items.

 This new generation of swap-enablers is hoping to attract consumers who are newly interested in services that will help them cut costs and embrace a "greener'' lifestyle. Reusing products, swap advocates say, reduces the amount of new packaging, taking pressure off of landfills. ThredUP cites a study by Goodwill Industries that found 23.8 billion pounds of clothing and textiles end up in US landfills every year.

I'd be concerned about the quality of what I'm receiving - especially with the clothes. However, the more I see old but still useful stuff pileup in my house the more practical these services seem to me. Whether that realization is enough to overcome my natural inertia (read: laziness) remains to be seen.

As does the question of whether these types of transactions can be turned into profitable businesses.

(Update: Coincidentally, Swaptree today announced a new CEO, Jeff Bennett, who was most recently a founder/executive at NameMedia. In addition, the company has landed a $6 million investment round fronted by Safeguard Scientifics, Inc.)

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