Welcome to the SWAP!

by Cloey Parlapiano and Alethea Cariddi

S.W.A.P. stands for Surplus With A Purpose.  It’s a thrift shop on the Biddeford Campus, located in Gregory Hall, primarily designed for students, by students.  Items in the shop are priced very low (generally $1 – $5) to encourage students to shop here first, before considering purchasing new items.

College is a time of finding yourself, which sometimes leads to drastic changes in styles and sizes.  It may seem easier to just toss items that no longer fit your aesthetic, but your trash could be another person’s treasure.  Clothing accounts for 2-10% of people’s environmental impact (Farrant et al., 2010). Donating and buying from thrift stores like the S.W.A.P. Shop can decrease our personal and collective impact on the environment, as well as create a sense of sharing and community.

UNE’s first Climate Action Plan in 2010 suggested that an on-campus thrift store would help decrease the waste from the move-out experience. The project became a reality in February, 2024 in response to several student initiatives over the previous two years.  Student environmental club, Earth’s E.C.O. began hosting “Pop-Up Thrift Shops” in Ripich Commons a couple of years ago.  These were well-received by the student body, but challenging to implement without storage, a permanent display location, and changing space to try on garments.  Fall 20203 brought five undergraduate students, recruited for the Millennium Fellowship, a project of the United Nations Academic Impact, to the idea of creating a permanent thrift shop space on campus. Administration supported the campus sustainability project by offering Gregory Hall.

Deep appreciation to Bangor Savings Bank for granting the S.W.A.P. Shop project $1,500 toward start-up costs.  These funds were used to purchase hangers, racks, the point-of-sale machine, cash box, laundry materials, and assorted retail operations materials.  Undergraduate Student Government supported the project with the purchase of a washer and dryer set, allowing us to offer confidently clean garments.

The campus community has generously donated many wonderful items already – the shop is full! We anticipate the end-of-year “Switch or Ditch” program to yield even more items as students move out of the residence halls and leave behind gently used items. A sign posted in the front window of the shop indicates when we are accepting donations. The shop does not accept undergarments, candles, weapons, children’s clothes or toys, or seriously damaged clothing. Damaged clothing can be brought to Seastar Market and placed in the white metal bins labeled “Apparel Impact” for textile recycling.

UNE S.W.A.P. Shop is currently staffed by students in the federal work study program. If you would like to work in the shop in future semesters, keep an eye out on Handshake for job postings, or contact the Sustainability Office.  The shop also accepts volunteers, especially those seniors taking the Citizenship course.  If you would like to volunteer in the shop, please contact the student managers, Cloey Parlapiano and Ruth Ellis.

Hours for the shop will change each semester, depending on staff availability. For the Spring ‘24 semester, the S.W.A.P. Shop will be open 9-4 on weekdays (closed 12-1 Mondays and Thursdays). We are also open Saturdays 12-4. If the sandwich board sign is outside, then the shop is open!  You can check out our Instagram page for updates to hours and special items (@uneswapshop).