Half-Pint Resale is growing up.
After five years and eight semiannual sales, Madison's largest children's consignment sale is moving from its Goodman Community Center location to a much larger place in McFarland.
And instead of offering clothing, toys, books, DVDs and other children's items for ages birth through 7 next weekend, it has expanded to include goods for those up to age 12.
Children's consignment sales are catching on, with two other competing sales in the area now. Buying second-hand merchandise for children who move through clothes and toys frequently has never been more widely accepted.
"I think the way the economy is, people are looking for ways to stretch their budgets," said Ellen Carlson, who began Half-Pint with Lisa Seidel when both women had young children.
"For a long time, buying used was reserved for people who 'didn't have enough money,' " Carlson said. "Whereas I think now people see it as a way to reuse items."
Parents also are trying to pass the "reuse, recycle" philosophy on to their children, she said. "I want my kids to be OK with having used toys. We don't need everything new."
Carlson and Seidel have watched their sales grow a remarkable 800 percent in the past two years. At the last Half-Pint sale, almost 23,000 items were sold, not including merchandise that went back to the consignors or was donated to Kindred Kids, a nonprofit based in Columbus.
More than 400 consignors registered for the upcoming sale, as have 300 volunteers, Carlson said.
"The volunteers have been remarkable," said Seidel, adding that at first, their only volunteers were friends and family.
It took them two sales to figure out that if they added an early, volunteer-only sale as an incentive, dozens of people would sign up.
Just Between Friends, a national children's consignment event franchise, has held sales in the area since 2009. Its next local sale is May 3-5 at the same venue, the Madison Curling Club in McFarland.
JBF's Teri Anderson also emphasizes the "green" aspect of her events. Consignment keeps items out of landfills "and gets them into another set of hands to be enjoyed," she said.
Jen Orshak, whose daughter is almost 2, is just getting into the business.
She started Lil' Badger Consignment Sale, which held its first event last month at the Monona Community Center. Her next sale is planned for Sept. 13-15 in the same place. She had 63 consignors her first time out.
"In comparison to Half-Pint it's small. But it's our first one and we'll grow," Orshak said. "It's a matter of getting our name out there."