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While I Push Piles of Stuff Around, please tell me: Is it worth the trouble to consign that Stuff?

My first daughter knows the story of how, when she was born, we were not prepared for her. She surprised us in arriving a full four weeks before her due date and we literally had only the swaddling blanket we brought home from the hospital. She owns this part of her history, how we wrapped her in super-soft flannel pillowcases.

Now, of course, we have way too much gear. It happened really fast. We bought a bigger house in an attempt to accommodate the huge amount of stuff we acquired, along with the two children who occasionally use it. But no attic, garage or basement would ever be big enough.

The piles had gotten intolerably large just as my 4 year-old's growth spurt necessitated some shopping, so I decided the time was right to "do" the Half-Pint Resale. It's one of those things that seems like part of parenting in Madison. If not a rite-of-passage, then just the way one does things.

The Half-Pint Resale is 14 years old, involves over 550 consigners and thousands of shoppers. There are loads of rules, like "The main way to attach your tags is with a safety pin. We recommend having the pin go through the clothing TWICE to secure the tag. For extra security, put a piece of tape on the tag where you plan to put the safety pin to reinforce the paper and prevent the tag from falling off the item."

Consigning is a huge commitment in time, energy, supplies, and faith. I do lots of things for which I make no money, accrue no sick leave, nor earn a pension (like write this blog), and lots of things that go un-praised and unappreciated. Yet the work of consigning was hard on me.

I couldn't help tallying up the workload (3 evenings that ran way past my bedtime) and inputs (Ziplock bags, Avery labels, safety pins, tape) against what I imagined my stuff to be worth to others. I doubted my sanity, and my ability to reckon with the way other people might value my stuff, over and over.

Earlier this summer, at a yard sale, my kid asked me to buy her a plastic toy tea kettle. It had a lid and wasn't broken, but it was in a plastic storage tub full of the loose-change of the toyworld. When I asked the seller how much for the toy, I was offended to have to hand over a dollar (I didn't lower myself to bargaining but instead just whined about the seller's audacity to my husband later). So, when I was labeling those Octopus Robeez, which I bought second-hand, with a $3 sticker, I felt like a chump, though I couldn't say if that was too high, or too low, a price.

A friend of mine has an awesome playland in her back yard that she boasts has been in over 10 yards on the east side before it was passed lovingly on to her family. That is mostly how things work and I like it best.

Yet, still, I just had to do it. Once. Now I've done it. 

I conscripted my mother into helping me sort stuff for one late night. I added packs of kid-size hangers to my husband's Target list. I waited in line to drop off my bins of stuff (1.5 hours), arranged childcare so I could shop during the special early-bird hours for consigners (on a Friday evening!), and now nervously anticipate which of my big items will sell.

I'm so glad for the two women who started the very-successful, efficiently run, and well-respected Half-Pint Resale. It's a great boon to Madison, and a much better way to shop for winter boots for fast-growing kids.

I'm glad I earned my patch for what feels like an accomplishment. I won't begrudge the Yard Sale Lady next time, maybe. And I'm thinking that I'll wait a couple years before I even consider consigning again....when my daughter is old enough to make her do the work of tagging her own stuff. I won't mind hearing her tell that story some day, how her mom made her sell all her toys in a big warehouse overflowing with storage bins of Robeez.

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