In Recession, Swapping Is The New Shopping

Women attend a fashion swap in Miami Beach, Fla. Swaps - as well as buying clothing and accessories from consignment stores and Goodwill - have become increasingly popular during the current recession.
High style at low prices - it sounds like a nice combination, especially in this economy. And it may be possible for smart shoppers, many of whom are finding the best deals at their neighbors' houses, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella.

It's Thursday evening and a posh Miami Beach home has been turned into a bargain basement - where swapping is the new shopping.

Fifteen shopaholics clean out their closets, and trade gently-worn Gucci for someone else's Chanel.

"Yeah, not taking out your wallet is fun and getting something new is fun," said Trudy Corey, one of the Miami Beach "shoppers."

"I think the idea of the barter has been something going on for a long time. I think it's just starting to catch fire now," said Lana Bernstein, the organizer of the swap. "Because of the recession."

These days, it's hip to pay less for more - a lot more. Michelle Lanese bought a whole new wardrobe at Goodwill.

"There must be 25 to 30 pieces for [a total of] $48 dollars," she said.

In the first four months of this year, Goodwill sales are up $71 million to $750 million, a 10 percent increase over last year.

"You are just as likely to see a woman come in a brand new Mercedes in a Goodwill as you are on a bike," said Cal Miller, V.P. of marketing for Gulfstream Goodwill.

Lynn Tella found brand-name jeans for her daughter for only $2.

"Some people turn their nose up at shopping at Goodwill but for me - it's it's a game, it's a hunt, it's entertainment but it just makes good economic sense," Tella said.

That's why consignment stores like Madeleine C's in Miami are seeing sales rise this year. The store is on track to beat last year's sales by $150,000 (from $1.1 million in 2008 to a projected $1.25 million this year).

Owner Madeleine Kirsh sets the price for clothes and, when they sell, the former owner gets half.

"Knowing I can bring it here and make money off of that is totally a relief," customer Natalya Palencia said.

It's all about recycling. You don't need designer labels to sell or swap - only friends who share the same size and taste.

But let the swapper beware: No returns allowed.