Give and take at online swap shop

I always tell my kids that nothing is free, and that although a business may advertise something as "free," there is usually a catch.

But after looking through Concord's Swap Shop page on Facebook, I may have to eat my words. You can get items for free and help the environment at the same time.

"The Concord Swap Shop Facebook page is designed to promote reuse in our area," said website manager Mandy Smith-Thompson. "Lots of good things get thrown away every day.

"By logging onto, locals can give away things they might have thrown away or look for things they'd like to get, and it's all free of charge."

Smith-Thompson said the idea arose after a discussion of ways to promote recycling and reduce waste in the Concord area.

"Other municipalities manage actual swap shops, often near municipal landfills, which are locations people can drop off and shop for free stuff," Smith-Thompson said. "We came up with the Facebook page, which was launched last year, as a more cost-effective way to provide essentially the same service.

"We certainly hope the page has benefited our citizens. We currently have 350 users on the page and would love to have more."

People have used the website for many successful swaps: Encyclopedias, candle-making molds, strollers, furniture, clothing and unopened baby formula have been exchanged.

"All swaps are the sole responsibility of the swappers. Concord simply manages the site, remaining pretty hands-off," Smith-Thompson said. "We hope the site continues to grow, and that it serves the idea of re-use, and (that) donation of good items replaces the temptation to just throw it away."

Now that Christmas has passed, more items are bound to be available as people make room for new gifts. So check out this interesting website. It's a great place to get rid of stuff you are not sure what to do with. Or you just might find something you were always looking for.

"The Concord Swap Shop is easy to use, and it's open to everyone," Smith-Thompson said. "Facebook users can simply log onto and click the 'Like' button to join.

"We encourage users to invite their friends to join as well. Liking the page will allow users to see posts the Swap Shop makes, but users must check back often to see new posts from other users."

The site says, "This is the place for citizens to get rid of things they don't need, and to find things they do need, at no cost."

What could be better?