According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising an American child born in 2010 is $255,800.
“We basically went from two incomes to one overnight,” she said. “I learned really quickly to become a bargain shopper.”
“I thought ‘clothes swap, what a neat idea,” she said. “That started the ball rolling.”
Participants pay a $5 fee paid online through peaceloveswap.com or $7 at the door — and drop off items to be shared.
Then, let the shopping begin.
“I can’t go (other places) and say ‘Here’s $5, I’m going to go pick out what I want now,’” she said. “You can’t do that anywhere. That’s the beauty behind it.”
At the end of the day (each event lasts only one day), any remaining items are donated to a local charity, Mrs. Stovall said. And for every 10 items a participant brings, they’re entered into a raffle for goods at the end of the swap, Mrs. Stovall said.
Following the East Texas group’s second swap in January, more than 600 items were given to a Canton community center and thrift shop called A More Excellent Way, she said.
Mrs. Stovall said the involvement with charity is one aspect she highly enjoys.
“For me, that’s the funest part of all,” she said. “I had no clue the number of organizations that are out there that I didn’t know about until I started looking.”
Mrs. Franz, herself a mother of four ranging in age from 1 to 17, said she thinks she founded the organization at the perfect time. Increasing concerns about the environmental impact of waste and excess coupled with the economic pressures brought on by the 2008 collapse was the perfect breeding ground for “Peace. Love. Swap.” she said.
“I think we’ve just come at a time when it’s so important for the environment and the economy,” she said in a phone interview from her home in Grass Valley. “Today, we have to teach our kids that we don’t have to buy everything new. Times are tough for a lot of families and I think this has come along at a time when so many families (need help.)”
From the get-go, Mrs. Franz said she believed the idea of the group would spread. And it has.
To date, there are more than 50 chapters of “Peace. Love. Swap.” across the U.S., she said. There even is one in India and Mrs. Franz said she’s been talking to people in Hungary who are interested in starting their own swaps.
“Peace. Love. Swap.” owes a lot of its success, she said, to volunteers and the fact that it’s a one-stop-shop, so to speak, for people looking to get into the swapping world. Flyer designs, logos, rules and information are all available on the website.
While she admits the idea of the swap was around long before she got the idea for a group, she said she isn’t aware of any other group aimed at organizing events like hers.
“There’s no large organizations that are just that – an organization that gives you all the tools to do it that is a group of moms,” she said. “There’s nobody else out there that does what we do.”
That rings true for Mrs. Stovall, as well.
To date, she is the only organizer in East Texas, covering Henderson County, Van Zandt County and Tyler.
In April, she received a promotion of sorts and was chosen by Mrs. Franz to be one of four regional organizes charged with starting groups around the country, Mrs. Stovall said. Now, she covers the whole state of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, she said.
Her East Texas group has grown significantly since it began as well, she said.
In the seven months it’s been in operation and after hosting only two swaps with a third planned for sometime this month, the East Texas page leapt up from 17 “likes” on Facebook to more than 350, she said.
“It’s just grown so fast,” she said.
People like Debbie Stovall, who volunteered her business OMG! All-Star Gym in Ben Wheeler to host the January swap, think that growth is attributable in part to the places served by the group, she said.
“It’s great for Van Zandt County and this area,” Mrs. Stovall said, adding that communities like Ben Wheeler lack thrift stores and other amenities that offer low-cost shopping alternatives. “I myself wanted to do kind of a resale shop in the area because we don’t have anything like that in the area.”
As for Mrs. Stovall and Mrs. Franz, they only see the event growing in the state and nation.
“I know Texas is going to blow up here pretty soon,” Mrs. Franz said.
For more information on the East Texas events, look for Peace. Love. Swap on Facebook or visit peaceloveswap.com.