Think of Shwop as your friend with great taste in clothes. Now think of Shwop as your best friend, the one who generously lets you raid her closet whenever you’re in need of a killer outfit. Too good to be true? Shwop, owned by Marci Pelletier, offers a new shopping experience. A member-based boutique, customers can come and swap clothes or just stop by for great finds. Shwop also emphasizes community, giving clothing vouchers to those in need and hosting Shwop Meets, perks for members.
E+E: How did Shwop come about?
Marci Pelletier: The store is a result of many things – the love of resale shops; to do something new; to build a community and give back; to make something great out of used items; and to be affordable. There were meetings with a former business partner to flesh out the general idea and a tongue-tied conversation with my husband where I “stumbled” upon the name. (I was trying to say shop and swap at the same time.)
E+E: What are some of the favorite clothing articles you’ve seen come through?
MP: I love the clothes that are coming and going on their own adventures. There is a silver sequined dress that comes to mind. It was part of a Halloween costume for a party in NY and is one hot commodity at Shwop. Someone will take it, wear it and then swap it back. Right now it’s out and I’m not sure if I will see it again. But if I do I’ve got a name and number to call. It has a waiting list! I also have a great pair of gold shoes that have been in and out – even went on a trip to Vegas.
E+E: Have you had any memorable stories of a Shwopper?
MP: One of my favorites is of a woman who was out for a walk with her husband when it started to get a little chilly. She popped into Shwop, found a jacket she liked, put it on and continued on her walk. No need to run back home or to have any $$ on her. She was a member so she just grabbed the jacket and was off.
E+E: What are your customers like?
MP: They are the best! First, they love the store so they’ve got great taste. Seriously though, they are the smartest, friendliest and the most stylish women I’ve come across in a long time. Because of the membership, most of them come in on a regular basis. This gives me a great chance to get to know them. I have women at different stages of a weight-loss journey, mothers and daughters that shop together, friends that make a date and meet at the shop every 2 weeks, and one member who has a personal goal to bring in one new member a week. I also have a Facebook page where I post pictures of customers in their shwopped gear. That is huge fun!
E+E: What are the Shwop Meets like? Do you have any other events coming up?
MP: Shwop Meets are a member perk. Basically, member get-togethers with a theme. I’m currently working on two that will take place over the next few months but the dates are TBD. One is with a personal shopper where we will be reviewing how to dress for our individual body types. The other is a way to repurpose clothes that are blemished in some way – a stain, rip, etc. – and make them wearable again.
E+E: Do you accept donations?
MP: Yes I do. Most of the items I get in the store come from members but I probably get two donations a week. When I get donations I keep the items in the store and give shopping vouchers to women’s organizations. Right now, I have two women’s groups we’re helping. Just last week we were able to provide some vouchers to a woman who had her clothes stolen from a laundry mat. One of my members suggested we do something even more around the holidays as a group so it will be fun to see how that unfolds.
E+E: What are your future plans for Shwop?
MP: Since the store is only about four months old, it is still evolving but the general idea is you pay a membership fee then swap and shop. Right now the store houses women’s clothes but the goal is for the whole family. I love the idea of Shwop shops being in a bunch of different neighborhoods all with their own flavor due to the surroundings.
E+E: What do you enjoy most about Portland?
MP: I can only pick one?! I guess one of the main things I like about Portland is the community feel to it. I grew up on a farm in eastern Oregon and community was an important part of our lives. It’s great to have all of the electronic advantages we have today but it’s so much better to connect with people face to face and help each other if we can. And the fact that we’re about an hour from the mountains or the beach. What’s better than that!
6000 SE 41st Ave
Portland, OR 97202