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The Commons Clothing Swap makes space and changes lives

Coworking space helps refresh wardrobes and communities in need

April 10, 2019 by Centaine Hlushak on The Commons

As spring cleaning collides with the viral Konmari decluttering method, The Commons is hosting a Clothing Swap on April 16-17, collecting clothes, books and toys from its members and community partners.

The tradition started two years ago when Jess Steinbach, Community & Sales Director at the Ramsay-based coworking space, was listening to a member’s lament over what to do with her unwanted clothes. Jess suggested that the member bring the clothes to The Commons to swap, along with clothes Jess brought herself and a few other members over one afternoon.

Word quickly spread, and there was so much interest from members to swap and shop around that that one afternoon became three full days – and The Commons has been hosting it at least twice-yearly ever since.

New this year, The Commons is hosting a public book drive to support Calgary Reads, a non-profit dedicated to improving literacy and book access in the city -- especially for children.

At the end of the Swap, Jess takes whatever goods are left over and stuffs her car to the roof to deliver these clothes, toys, and books to organizations that need them. Most of what is donated is professional wear, which goes to Making Changes Association and Dress for Success – organizations that help men and women in need find work-appropriate clothing. This year, The Commons will also be sending items to The Mustard Seed.

“Clothes may not be the difference between life and death, but it can mean the difference of having a job, being warm, or feeling confident in your own skin.”

“We really value being able to combine an act of community with an act of service,” Jess says, adding that there’s an additional “side-benefit” of seeing the joy in people’s faces when they recognize their old clothes being worn around the office.

“I’m literally wearing pants I got from a previous Swap right now.”


  1. Visit The Commons Clothing Swap from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on April 16-17, and bring a donation to shop the collection!
  2. Is your organization in need of donations? Contact Jess today to let her know what you need.
  3. Click here to learn more about The Commons and how coworking fosters community.
  4. Connect with The Commons on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  5. Check out The Commons’ Sustainability Profile on the REAP directory.