Clothing swaps held at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center have attracted more than 40 people over the course of a few hours. [Photo: Bitsy Tatera]

“When I first found out about clothing swaps, I was like ‘are you kidding me? This is a thing?!’” said Bitsy Tatera.

Tatera has organized seasonal clothing swaps in Moab for years, with the next one scheduled for Wednesday, March 17 at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (111 E. 100 North, Moab).

Her passion for the loose, friendly gatherings where people bring unwanted clothing to trade goes way back, however. Tatera has been hosting swaps for twenty years in her home or at a community radio station in Alaska when she lived there.

“I’m the youngest child of five,” said Tatera, “and I don’t think I ever had a brand-new piece of clothing. We hunted for things at garage sales, and I still love that feeling. That’s where I get my jollies: the hunt!”

Here in Moab, Tatera has aimed to hold swaps twice a year around the change of season, as people purge some extra or unwanted clothing items from their closets.

At the swap, different items are separated and arranged on large tables to let people browse through strange dresses, great t-shirts and maybe even a perfectly fitting pair of jeans. Tatara is mindful of welcoming people who haven’t attended a similar event before, greeting people at the door and taking their items to organize.

“That lets people just go shopping right off, rather than wandering around and having to figure everything out,” said Tatera. The event is mask-friendly and people can stay to see what interesting items come through the door.

“Or just pop in for a moment to see if you can find a pair of new shorts!” said Tatera. “Even if you don’t have a bag of clothes to trade, come look and find something interesting!”

Clothing swaps are also great to build community and address the real issue of waste and overconsumption, Tatera points out.

“Swaps are so much more than just getting stuff, they’re also about connecting and reuse and recycling,” she says. “There’s so much stuff in this country, it’s just so excessive.”

“Of course, it’s also a chance to goof off and try on new things you maybe wouldn’t wear otherwise,” she laughs.

The spring clothing swap will take place on Wednesday, March 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (111 E. 100 North, Moab)