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Swap Meet Mama website empowers secondhand market

Because kids grow out of everything in 5 minutes

Jen Rittenhouse and family offer a fresh way to buy resale. Courtesy photo

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Anyone with kids knows the truth about buying anything for children - kids outgrow just about everything in five minutes. While many parents still venture forth to the Baby Gap to bedeck their little ones in the latest and greatest, many others look to the secondhand market. And why not? Buying second hand is cheaper, it's green and - let's face it - your tot doesn't care what he or she wears.

Enter Swap Meet Mama (, a website launched officially Sept. 23, 2013, by Jen Rittenhouse and Kevin Frietas. More than 250 Puget Sound-area swappers have signed up for accounts already, and there have been 20,000 hits on the site and $11,000 worth of items posted.

Swap Meet Mama seeks to empower the local second-hand market. The revolution is resale. Vive la revolucion!

"The revolution is resale. That's the truth," Rittenhouse said. "Sharing an item you no longer need extends the life of that item but also offers an opportunity to share your memory with someone else. We form emotional attachments to things we have - our children's things especially. Giving those things a new life with a new family is a beautiful way to let go. It's liberating, and you have the opportunity to impact another family. It's powerful all around."

Raised in a home filled to the gills with resale and reused items, Rittenhouse has always had a close relationship with second-hand stuff. But when she was pregnant with her daughter, good ole' American commercialism rose up and smacked her in the face. Magazines, blogs, registries and even other mothers told Rittenhouse she needed a mountain of items to raise her child. Jogging strollers, Diaper Genies, designer onesies - oh my!

As Baby Rittenhouse outgrew her mountain, Mama Rittenhouse wanted to pass on all her basically still-new baby stuff to other people who could use it, but as she battled through existing sites, from eBay to Craigslist to lesser-known options, all she ran into were sites that were not designed for a simple, community driven swap.

So she made her own. The site aims to connect people who share the same values: sustainability, community and thrift. Beyond a mere marketplace, Swap Meet Mama also has a blog filled with meaningful content for the community and a forum for thrifty shoppers to chat.

"The goal of the site is to connect people quickly for buying, selling and swapping used goods," Rittenhouse explained. "We have everything ranging from baby basics like cloth diapers and Boppy pillows to cocktail dresses and premium denim, household goods and cookware, men's shoes and workout videos ... it's been incredible to watch it take shape."

The site is designed to be simple, thanks to the mastermind of web developer Frietas. Enter your zip code, and you'll see all the items available in your area. Filter by category or search by keyword. All transactions are completed in person, but unlike a site like Craigslist, Rittenhouse said that everyone who joins Swap Meet Mama is joining to be part of a community, adding a layer of trust that Craigslist does not have.

"My friends could buy an outfit or baby gear brand new, but babies get the same benefit from an item whether it is new or used," she said. "Don't let anyone tell you differently. And when you aren't paying full retail you can buy a nicer bottle of wine, start saving for college, take a vacation or just smile because you're savvy."

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