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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Trouble With Free

I am getting my first lesson in social media damage control this week. 
This all started two weeks ago when I was doing laundry.  I was putting away my clothes I noticed a few pieces that were too big for me to wear comfortably anymore.  I started a bag in my closet, thinking I would make a trip to the Goodwill soon.  But as I continued to fold towels I started to think how much money it was going to cost to replace those clothes.  I thought it would be great if there was a place to trade used clothes with other people who for one reason or another, did not need the size I need.   After I finished folding I went online to see if I could find a place like that.  I found a few groups on some weight loss sites, but you had to be a member to participate.  I am happy with My Fitness Pal and did not want to switch or maintain two programs.   So I looked on facebook, nothing came up so I decided to start a group.   I hoped to score some clothes that would fit me for a little while and help someone else at the same time. 

I created Topeka Clothes Swap and invited the people I knew who were either losing weight or had kids who grow rapidly.  Almost instantly I started getting requests from other people to join the group too.  In two weeks the group has grown to over 100 members.   We all discussed needs and wants  on the group wall.  But many people wanted an event.  As we were discussing locations to meet a friend of mine, Catie Walker, volunteered the gym at Hayden High School.  It’s big, it’s centrally located in town and it’s free….perfect.   I set up the first event for the group to be Saturday March 24th, 2012 and let the group know that swap rules would be posted soon. 

The group started to buzz about rules and what people want.  This was quickly becoming something that I was going to need some help with.  A very nice lady I know named Marcy Hane has had experience with clothes swaps and offered to help.  I made both her and Catie admin’s in the group and we got to work putting together rules for the event.  Once we agreed, I put the rules together and posted the following in the group…..
What came next was very surprising.  Almost immediately the group was hit with comments about the ticket system.  How it wasn’t fair to those in need.  How we aren’t being considerate to everyone.  How it isn’t fair that we won’t let people have reserved items.  The complaints kept coming.  I did my best to damage control remembering everything I had read about dealing with unhappy people in social media.  I did not want a Balls BBQ situation on my hands.  I did not delete any negative comments, I did not argue, I politely offered alternative solutions, I asked them to be patient as we are still new to all of this and so on.  Nothing really worked to calm the storm.  The negativity continued and escalated into statements that “Karma” is going to get me.  Many of the people participating were members of another group I had recently heard about and joined, they must not have realized I am a member because they went to that group and started to very harshly criticize everything we are doing.  I did not retort, I just let them have their rant. 

Today things are calmer but I am so jaded by the whole thing.  All I wanted was to create a place where people can trade clothes freely and fairly.  The people who have a problem with the rules are the same people who want  to come to the event and not bring anything to trade, just take what they need.  I understand that we are in hard times right now and that there are people who really need help.  But to come in and demand we just give them what they need without giving anything in return, I’m sorry but that seems incredibly rude.  I am just as broke as the next person, I cannot afford to go out and buy a new wardrobe every couple of months as I lose weight.  But I will not go and demand someone give me their clothes without offering anything in return.  I wouldn’t dare.  This event was the best solution I could come up with and there are people out there who I think are on board with the swap idea.  We will see how the event on the 24th goes. 
If it bombs or if it is full of drama, I will just drop the whole thing. 


  1. Okay, okay, okay... So I saw the comments too. And wow. Sorry but screw them. IF they don't like they can go to the other group. People that have those negative comments like that (I found on the baby center board while I was preggo) just don't have enough to do and where the bitches in school. Yes, my friend. They never really matured, just went online.

  2. lol thanks Heather. It's all good. Haters are gonna hate. But nothin gonna break my stride, nothin gonna slow me down. Whoa no, got to keep on movein! :) Thanks for the support!