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You are in: Birmingham > People > Stories > Multicoloured Swap Shop

Jess Mikhail and her swap shop girls

Jess Mikhail and her swap shop girls

Multicoloured Swap Shop

Want to revamp your entire wardrobe for just £3? One pub in Kings Heath hosts an event for charity to help you do just that.

In the back room of The Station pub in Kings Heath, beyond the throngs supping their pints and watching the football, a gorgeous girly paradise awaits, and all you have to do to enter is pay £3, and bring a bagful of your unwanted clothes and accessories, which you exchange for buttons on the door. 

Photo: Stephen D Harper

Photo: Stephen D Harper

Sweet smelling incense and cute jazz music fill the air, and the tables are decked out with vintage cloths and complementary cup cakes. The best part is yet to come- the back of the room is filled with clothing rails, groaning with dresses, jackets, trousers, tops and jeans, and the china spaniel on the mantelpiece plays guard dog to spangled high heels and silky sarongs.

Buttons are legal tender!

Pick out something you like, try it on in the changing room set up in the corner, and if you like it, take it to the front and pay for it with one of the buttons you received for your own clothes when you came in.

Photo: Stephen D Harper

Photo: Stephen D Harper

The proceeds from the evening are going to St. Basils- a Birmingham charity that provides housing and support to young people on the verge of homelessness. A raffle helped bolster the takings, with top prizes donated by Kings Heath eateries Blue Ginger, Byzantium and the Manic Organic Café. In total £144 was raised.

A sociable way to shop

The idea is that, if you want, you can use the buttons to leave with as many clothes as you entered with, and some other lucky lady gets to take your clothes home. Valerie O'Riordan is scanning the shelves for something to buy with her three buttons: "It's a much more sociable way of disposing of your clothes than just bringing them to a charity shop, you know that people who like them are going to get them." 

Clothes swapping in the pub

Clothes swapping in the pub

Of course, you don't have to spend all of your buttons, as one girl explains: "I brought 14 things, and I could only find five new things, but then that's good because my wardrobe is full, and I didn't want to have to shove it all back in there!"

Velour jumpsuits and silly hats

Jess Mikhail, an illustrator from Kings Heath who organised the event, explains where the idea came from: "I've got loads of clothes in my wardrobe that I don't wear, and I thought it would be a good idea to swap them, rather than go out and buy new ones. It's green, it's environmentally friendly, and it means that if you see your friends wearing something you like, you may one day own it yourself!"

clothes line

clothes line

The bar is buzzing with girly chatter- if there's one thing that women love to talk about, it's clothes, and the air is filled with giggling as friends pass round a yellow velour jump suit with diamante spangles, and laugh at each other in silly hats, but what about the men?

It's your turn next boys!

This is the first time the event has run, and only one man turned up with his clothes, so they'll all be donated to Acorns Children's Hospice shop in Kings Heath, along with other items left over after the swap. Mark, the barman, wishes he'd known in advance: "I've got loads of clothes at home I don't want anymore. They should have one just for boys!"

Photo: Stephen D Harper

Photo: Stephen D Harper

Landlady Alison is very pleased with the evening: "Everybody in Kings Heath has been talking about it. It's a nice idea, something a bit different, and because it's in aid of charity, people are prepared to come in and do it."

The Station plans to hold the event on a regular basis, as well as starting a book circle and book swap scheme, so have a root through your wardrobe, and look out for posters in Kings Heath in the near future.

last updated: 06/08/2008 at 18:46
created: 30/05/2008

You are in: Birmingham > People > Stories > Multicoloured Swap Shop

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