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CPSIA and resale

Talking used cribs

by Walter Olson on March 27, 2013

“I had to [explain she] could not find a second-hand crib because the CPSC basically outlawed” them [CPSC commissioner Nancy Nord, earlier here, here]

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A thrift store owner explains why. [Rick Woldenberg] More: Timothy Carney, Examiner.

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It’s endangered by CPSIA, since organizers have no easy way to know whether a recyclable pair of kids’ jeans might have lead-containing brass in its buttons or zipper and thus be unlawful to sell (though not in fact dangerous). [Nancy Nord]

P.S.: Demise of print publication of Mothering Magazine after 35 years attributed in part to CPSIA and other CPSC regulations that devastated many advertisers [Handmade Toy Alliance]

Kids’ used winter coats would have come in handy right about now: as part of his “CPSIA Casualty of the Week” series, Rick Woldenberg profiles Kids’ Closet of Rochester, Illinois, whose owner describes the law’s “devastating” effects on her shop. More on CPSIA and resale here.

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CPSIA chronicles, September 12

by Walter Olson on September 12, 2009

  • On Thursday Henry Waxman’s House Commerce Committee finally held its long-promised hearing on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the first such hearing by a committee with legislative jurisdiction since the calamitous law went into effect in February. TomTomPipersSon2(The Small Business Committee, a panel with no legislative authority over the law, had gone first.) As noted last week, Thursday’s virtually dissent-free event hardly counted as much of a hearing, since Waxman turned down all pleas to allow testimony from actual affected businesses or other critics or victims of the law. Instead he called as his single witness recently appointed CPSC chair Inez Tenenbaum, who hewed closely to the line he (Waxman) wished to hear. A Washington Times editorial is appropriately scathing, and Rick Woldenberg has much more about the committee majority’s finger-in-ears response to the broad outcry over the law. Ranking Republican Joe Barton (R-Texas), who supported the law’s passage, did say that “we have all been inundated” with constituent messages about its ill consequences. The Handmade Toy Alliance has published the statement that Jill Chuckas of Crafty Baby would have made if invited to testify (more).
  • In an August 26 WSJ letter to the editor, Eric Havill of Branchport, N.Y. observes that Congress’s refusal to fix the law “is, if possible, even more irresponsible than the original legislation.”
  • By a unanimous vote, the CPSC recently confirmed that Mattel, the giant toymaker whose many recalls helped touch off the lead-in-toys panic in the first place, has qualified for an exemption from third-party (outside lab) testing of its products under CPSIA, and can instead test in its own in-house labs. Of course, most of Mattel’s competitors are less fortunate and do not operate on a scale that will make such an exemption feasible. The exemption for “firewalled” in-house labs, deemed by one critic a “hall pass,” was something Mattel obtained through intense lobbying back when the law was under consideration. Like the other giant in the business, Hasbro, Mattel actively lobbied for CPSIA’s passage, and even as the law has brought undreamt-of woe to thousands of smaller producers of kids’ products, the two big companies seem to be doing rather well under it. More: Timothy Carney, Washington Examiner; Brad Warbiany, Liberty Papers; Christopher Taylor, Word Around the Net. Other reactions to the exemption: Holly Jahangiri, Rick Woldenberg, Ed Morrissey/Hot Air (“one of the companies that created the problem in the first place has gotten a waiver”), Katherine Mangu-Ward/Reason (“Mattel now has a cost advantage on mandatory testing, and a handy new government-sponsored barrier to entry for its competitors”), Handmade Toy Alliance.
  • AlphabetRSTTurkeys

  • What’s going to replace forbidden phthalates in kids’ products now that CPSIA has banned them? Probably alternative plasticizing chemicals about which we know less, notes Andrew Langer in Roll Call.
  • It’s old news, of course, that the CPSC asserts the power to go after eBay and Craigslist sellers, church bazaars, homeowners who hold yard sales and other sellers of used items that do not comply with CPSIA and other safety standards (although evidence is very sparse that most members of Congress actually realized the law would reach sales of those kinds.) Last month the CPSC saw fit to announce “Resale Roundup”, a new crackdown on secondhand sales. It also revised its book of guidance for resellers, in ways Rick Woldenberg finds less than enlightening. Discussion: Adler/Volokh, Ed Morrissey/Hot Air (“What did we ever do before the CPSIA protected the US through its throngs of federal nannies? How did we ever survive garage sales in the past 233 years?”), Washington Times (“from yard sales to jail cells”), Katherine Mangu-Ward/Reason, John Stossel, Deputy Headmistress/Common Room (“Remember when Congress assured us that the little guys had NOTHING to worry about with the CPSIA because they weren’t going to come after us? They. Lied.”) On the brighter side, McClatchy’s James Rosen quotes spokesperson Scott Wolfson as saying the commission isn’t planning to seek admittance to inspect private homes and garages to enforce the law. So be thankful for small favors.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES from Ethel Everett, illustrator, Nursery Rhymes (1900), and (illustrator not known) Farm Yard ABC (c. 1880), both courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

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The New York Times, which to the amazement of many has printed scarcely a word about the catastrophic effects of the law it still defends, now runs a Fashion & Style story applauding what it identifies as a trend among affluent urban parents toward buying used products for their kids rather than always insisting on new (Sarah Wildman, “For Firstborns, Secondhand Fits the Bill“). But it never mentions the reason why those parents will find the selection of kids’ goods around the nation’s thrift shops to be much, much sparser than it was a year ago.

Even as it spots this supposed trend, the paper does not quote anyone who works in an actual secondhand business; it does mention picking up used stuff free from “friends’ garages” and buying on Craigslist, where it’s easy to find sellers who don’t know (or at least claim not to know) that the law covers them too. You have to wonder what’s going on with the editors at this newspaper. Are they under some sort of orders not to mention CPSIA and its effects? Or do they just not know any better? (More: ShopFloor).

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paperdollsfrench2Readers of this site may have known already, but the Kansas City Star spells it out for its readers: “the notoriously broad and confusing federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act applies to you and your front yard.” As the CPSC’s 27-page booklet for resellers (PDF) warns, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Which is especially problematic since even if you do study up on it, as Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, reminds us, “the way it was written, it’s almost impossible to abide by this law.”

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Plenty of news in recent days:bicycleposter2

  • Ordinary bicycles have now joined youth motorbikes and ATVs in the twilight status of not-quite-legal temporary toleration. That’s the impact of a unanimous (2-0) vote (PDF) by the Consumer Product Safety Commission granting the conventional bicycle industry a two-year stay but not exemption from CPSIA’s lead limits (earlier). Since everyday bikes unavoidably contain some lead that is potentially absorbable (if at infinitesimal levels), they are not legal, exactly, but the Commission promises not to go after anyone for selling them, for now. CPSC acting chair Nancy Nord:

    We are compelled to deny the petition because the language of the statute does not give us the flexibility to do otherwise, even though our staff does not believe that lead exposure from using bicycles and related products presents a risk that they would recommend the Commission regulate. The risk assessment methods traditionally used by the Commission in evaluating exposure to lead are no longer available to us under the CPSIA.

    Nevertheless, we also recognize, as we did when presented with a similar petition filed by the All Terrain Vehicle industry, that safety requires the presence of some lead in the metal used in the product to insure structural integrity. I am also mindful of the staff’s findings that the contact children may have with the parts of the products that contain lead is not extensive and would not present a risk as we have traditionally understood the term—that is, would not increase blood lead levels in any measurable way. Presented with the dilemma of inflexibility in the law vs the need for regulatory action that recognizes safety and good sense considerations, we are opting to stay enforcement.
    Rumors of wolves
    This course of action is becoming all too frequent for the CPSC. It is needed to avoid market disruptions and to protect consumers. However, it is not the optimal way to implement a statute.

  • On the other hand — and with potentially catastrophic consequences for businesses large and small — the commission by a 1-1 vote (Nord in favor, Thomas Moore against) turned down a stay (PDF) of the tracking label requirements due for August (earlier here and here). Much coverage at NAM ShopFloor, here (decisions on packaging, whether to etch numbers into products, etc. must be made with much lead time and manufacturers now face staggering costs if they guess wrong), as well as here, here, and here.
  • When flocks stray

  • Yesterday the House Small Business Committee held its long-awaited hearings, the first in either chamber since CPSIA took effect, on the law’s calamitous impacts on business. I haven’t had a chance to watch yet, but the House Small Business majority (Democratic) side has put up videos. The impression one gets from reform blogs is that 1) the hearing itself was pretty good but that 2) committee leadership then proceeded to ignore much of what was actually said and rally behind the Waxman line that there’s nothing wrong with the law itself, it’s just that the CPSC leadership hasn’t implemented it properly. [Carter Wood, Rick Woldenberg, Woldenberg's submitted statement]
  • Chalkydoodles has a two-part interview with founder Cecilia Leibovitz of the Handmade Toy Alliance: part I, part II (via ExUrbanis);
  • CMMJaime takes a look at the CPSC’s new handbook for resellers, and finds its reassurances for small businesses subjective and vague, particularly when it comes to lines like: “Use your best judgment based on your knowledge of the product”.
  • “Toy importer Rob Wilson’s company sometimes sells wooden children’s puzzles, but he hasn’t ordered one since last November.” That’s from the Metro-West Daily News in suburban Boston, which also has this ominous political bit:

    McGovern [Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass.] said the federal agency is not being onerous, and businesses should work with it to resolve their worries.

    In a written statement, Sen. John Kerry’s office said the measure is meant to keep dangerous products off the shelves, and it needs a chance to work before it is changed.

Public domain paper doll images courtesy Karen’s Whimsy.

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  • At long last a House committee — the one on Small Business — has announced a hearing on CPSIA’s impact on small business, to take place Thursday. (I’m almost hesitant to report this as good news since the last time I did so it took only hours for the event to be called off). The Small Business panel does not have primary legislative authority in the area; that is vested in Rep. Henry Waxman’s Energy and Commerce Committee, whose CPSIA-overseeing subcommittee has chosen instead to hold hearings on that very urgent subject of public concern, college bowl championships. Rick Woldenberg recalls the fingers-in-ears techniques the House has used to shut out unwanted information up to now: first Waxman/Rush staffers prearranged “hearings” that heard nothing, after which they (successfully up to now) maneuvered to make sure critics of the law would not obtain any official Hill forum at which to air their grievances as public outrage built.
  • Hard to steer with no head

  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission has released new guidance (PDF) for thrift shops and other product resellers on compliance with CPSIA and other laws overseen by the agency. According to Ian at Musings at a Catholic Bookstore , the manual lays out policies that differ only slightly from what was known before, often by spelling out what will be made an enforcement priority, since the commission has no power to alter the law’s actual requirements. Thus it seems phthalates in older kids’ playthings, the kind unlikely to be placed in the mouth, are not going to be a high priority in reseller enforcement — which still doesn’t make it legal to resell those items. For many outside readers the biggest surprise seems to have been that the agency views its authority as extending to yard sales. As Ian notes, this isn’t actually news; it’s just that the new manual is spelling it out in a more visible way than it did at some earlier times.
  • “Toy Story 3: Emperor Uncle Sam Puts You Out of Business” [Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), The Hill]
  • In the ongoing series of crises that is CPSIA, the next major crisis is due on or around August 14, as of which date newly made children’s goods must comply with new tracking and labeling requirements (touched on briefly in this space last month). The intent is to make it easier to trace and contain safety problems, enable recalls and so forth. For makers of children’s apparel, Kathleen Fasanella explains the complicated and sometimes expensive implications in posts here, here, and here. And apparel makers have it relatively easy, in part because they are already used to affixing permanent labels to most products, unlike many makers of items such as wooden toys and pencils, straw dolls, ceramic wall plaques, rubber spiders or bouncy balls, glass bead craft items, and so forth. Toy importer Rob Wilson writes, “this one clause will be enough to finish off a good majority of the companies that the other provisions of the law do not kill first. I personally know of many companies that are planning to close by August 15th if this provision is not amended.” The National Association of Manufacturers has requested (PDF) an emergency stay on the tracking and labeling rules; the CPSC has put off consideration of the request. Rick Woldenberg comments here and here. And tomorrow (Tues., May 12) at 1 p.m., the CPSC is holding a meeting, to which any interested member of the public is invited, to discuss the tracking and labeling rules. (Update: CPSC hearing is online as a webcast (h/t Woldenberg). Kathleen Fasanella has more, including links to more than 500 pages of protest letters, PDF, received by the CPSC on the issue).
  • One that fits

  • Cutting across multiple lines: per the Bulletin in Bend, Oregon, a local resident whose son got sick from salmonella (and recovered) appeared with Rep. Henry Waxman at a press conference to promote more effective federal food safety regulations; at the same time, though, “Christoferson said she can sympathize with the harm that poorly written rules can do to businesses” because her own resale store in the city of Bend, Stone Soup, has been harmed by CPSIA.
  • Whimsical Walney, who has written with passion about the CPSIA fight, has announced that she is closing the doors of her children’s business.

Public domain paper doll images courtesy Karen’s Whimsy.

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I’m reasonably sure that Katherine Mangu-Ward’s new Reason blog post on CPSIA is the only instance in which anyone has ever called me a “rock star”.

goodwilllogo
Save kids’ resale: The charitable/job assistance giant has its annual advocacy day in Washington, D.C. tomorrow, where it will recommend “that Congress pass legislation that excludes used children’s products from the CPSIA” (more; via ShopFloor; our earlier coverage of CPSIA and resale).

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oakandreeds3

  • Did you know that you can use the advanced search function at the SEC’s EDGAR database to track some of the losses in the business world from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act? (h/t Sunny Day Notes). Thus the Dollar General chain reveals in a 10-k filing that it took a charge of $8.6 million due to the sudden loss of value of merchandise early this year when a court reinstated CPSIA’s retroactive ban on phthalates in children’s playthings. Mark Riffey also suggests Google searches combining 10-K with CPSIA. (More on the countable costs).
  • A Quick Guide To What’s Wrong with the CPSIA” by leading reform activist Rick Woldenberg is more a jumping-off point for discussion than a finished bill of particulars — it doesn’t bring up the needless burdens of the law’s testing regime, for example. And it argues for more reasonable implementation without really taking issue on principle with the wisdom of the law. But it does have the advantage of being couched in the sort of Washington language a legislative staffer might be willing to take to colleagues.
  • Speaking of quick guides, Carol Baicker-McKee has done up a two-page fact sheet on the need to fix CPSIA before it does more harm on the vintage-books front. Valerie Jacobsen polled both sellers and buyers in the homeschool market for used children’s literature and found that nearly all the buyers, and for the time being most of the sellers, were ignoring the CPSC guidelines that discourage most resale of pre-1985 volumes. Deputy Headmistress had a great post last month summing up reactions on the vintage-books front from David Niall Wilson, Amy Ridenour, Zodi @ Tim & Zodi, and less admirably, Consumer Reports/Consumers Union (which seems to be perfectly fine with the law’s effects). And did you know there’s a displayable sidebar widget of “CPSIA Endangered Books” based on the Flickr group with that theme?
  • I am sorry to say I believe the story Jacobsen told at her site last month:

    I just had an interesting conversation with Jared at the Senate Commerce Committee at 202-224-5115. Jared told me that the Commerce Committee had been unaware that pre-1985 children’s books (he knew about that restriction already) would still have commercial importance and ongoing value for children’s use. … Jared asked a lot of questions and twice expressed that it was new information “to the Committee” that these books still have any market importance.

    The comments section to that post is a particularly good one for those interested in the fate of vintage children’s books or in the attitudes widely held on Capitol Hill; see also Deputy Headmistress.

  • Not a good sign: the Obama/Biden campaign took a simplistic “ban ‘em all” view on CPSIA issues in its document “Barack Obama: A Champion for Children” (PDF) And (h/t Mark Riffey) it was two and a half years ago that Rep. Henry Waxman and then-Sen. Obama reached for headlines by blasting the U.S. Capitol gift shops over its sale of trinkets and souvenirs containing lead — no need for careful distinctions about which such items if any might present actual, material hazards and which do not. (Dec. 11, 2006 announcement).
  • Rain boots, buttons, Dr. Seuss: What passed and what didn’t when the owner of a Chicago-area resale store did x-ray fluorescence (XRF) testing to detect lead levels in many vintage kids’ products [From My Room]
  • Pete Warden’s neat Mailana venture (among other functions) will analyze a group of Twitter connections to detect patterns. It indicates that of the 1,300+ persons now following @walterolson on that service, the two most distinctly identifiable social clusters are toymakers and lawyers. I feel torn sometimes between the North Pole and a hot place.

Public domain image courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org: Walter Crane, illustrator, The Baby’s Aesop (1887)

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Last Wednesday’s CPSIA rally at the Capitol drew an overflow crowd of hundreds, with thousands more reportedly watching from around the world via webcast. Many speakers had powerful stories to tell, and cameras from CNN and ABC were on hand to record them; AP mentioned the event in covering the dirtbike-ban story. There is, as you might imagine, no way to upstage a six-year-old motocross champion who declares from the podium, “I promise I won’t eat my dirt bike”.

A few things I learned by attending:

  • Ordinary bikes (not the motorized kind) are clearly out of compliance with the law because of the leaded brass in certain components, and have been given no exemption. I’m still wondering why the CPSC directed the motorbike dealers to tarp over their inventory but did not do the same with the ordinary-bike dealers. Earlier here; much more (PDF) in this CPSC submission by Mayer Brown for the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association.
  • Until I saw their handout leaflet, it hadn’t sunk in that the non-profit and charitable giants in resale, including Goodwill, Salvation Army, Easter Seals, Volunteers of America, and St. Vincent de Paul, have banded together in a Donated Goods Coalition. Good for them, and I hope someone listens.
  • Held up for inspection

  • Even blogging the subject as much as I have, I’ve somehow said almost nothing about CPSIA’s requirements for batch numbering, labeling and tracking of kids’ products, due to hit later this year. It seems these requirements all by themselves will suffice to wipe out small producers in droves even if the crazy testing requirements can somehow be made sane.  A few write-ups touching on the subject: Handmade Toy Alliance (Word document), Kathleen Fasanella/Fashion Incubator, Publisher’s Weekly.
  • The rally happened because of the efforts of grass-roots business people around the country, above all Rick Woldenberg of Learning Resources. (The story of the Oregon delegation could stand for that of many others.) Motorbike people were much in evidence. Also present: people from trade associations from regular businesses not been much heard from in the CPSIA furor of recent months, including makers of shoes and footwear, cribs, and even household cleansers, all of whom turned out to have stories to tell. Who knew there was a whole association specializing in the little items you get when you put in the quarter in the vending machine and turn the crank?
  • Kids’-book author (and valued commenter) Carol Baicker-McKee was there and gave a superb talk, making effective use of a copy of Orwell’s 1984. Otherwise, however, among groups deeply affected by the legislation, the book and library trades were conspicuous by their absence. I wasn’t the only one who noticed this; so did Publisher’s Weekly.
  • I finally got to meet face to face many persons who have been favorably mentioned in these columns over the past three months. I was not surprised to find a whole lot of nice, dedicated people, the sort of people you’d want to be making products for your children to use. You, Reader, would have enjoyed meeting them too.
  • Many members of Congress spoke. All were Republican, and a few were pretty good. For better or worse (maybe some of each) there was a minimum of partisanship, with scant mention of the reports that the Democratic House leadership had ordered members not to attend. Several lawmakers minimized the institutional role in the debacle of Congress (which passed the law last year almost unanimously), instead seeking to throw the blame onto the CPSC’s management, which put them surprisingly close to the position of Henry Waxman himself. One GOP member said it was important to be nice to the Democrats and not alienate them, since they held all the power. Not observing the nicetiesThis may have been good advice, but I was still a little surprised.
  • Amid a great deal of talk about unintended consequences, very little was said about there being actual adversaries out there, who know quite well what the law is doing and support it anyway. If more than a word or two was breathed about the roles of Public Citizen, PIRG, or the various members of Congress who are actively hostile on the issue (and not just “needing to be educated”), I missed it. Which meant (it seemed to me) that some of the good people who’d taken the trouble to come to Washington were going to be surprised and perhaps unprepared when they discovered figures out there like, oh, just to pick randomly, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, whose positions are not so much unreflected-on as deeply hostile (and with mysteriously unsourced numbers too).

Speaking of which, Consumers Union, publisher of Consumers Reports, confirmed once again that it falls into the “hostile” and not merely “unreflective/ uninformed” category with this deplorable hatchet job, which provoked a slew of angry, substantive comments; see also blog posts including those of Carol Baicker-McKee and Sheeshamunga.

More rally coverage: Domestic Diva, Polka Dot Patch.
Public domain image: Yankee Mother Goose (1902), illustrator Ella S. Brison, courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

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dollbook

Major story by Jon Hamilton on yesterday’s NPR “Morning Edition”: “A new federal ban on chemical compounds used in rubber duckies and other toys isn’t necessary, say the government scientists who studied the problem.” “Now they tell us,” writes Carter Wood. More from Jonathan Adler @ Volokh and commenters.

Although most coverage of the CPSIA debacle (this site’s included) has focused on the lead rules, the phthalates ban (phthalates are an ingredient often used to make plastic soft and bendable) is also extraordinarily burdensome, for a number of reasons: 1) as readers may recall, a successful lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council and others forced the last-minute retroactive banning of already-existing playthings and child care items, costing business billions in inventory and other losses; 2) vast numbers of vintage dolls, board games and other existing playthings are noncompliant, which means they cannot legally be resold even at garage sales, let alone thrift or consignment shops, and are marked for landfills instead; 3) obligatory lab testing to prove the non-presence of phthalates in newly made items is even more expensive than testing to prove the non-presence of lead. The phthalate ban is also an important contributor to the burden of the law on the apparel industry (the ingredient has often been used in screen printing on t-shirts and similar items) and books (“book-plus” items with play value often have plastic components). AmendTheCPSIA.com has reprinted a letter from Robert Dawson of Good Times Inc., an amusement maker.

Earlier coverage: Feb. 6 (NRDC and allies win court case on retroactivity); Feb. 7 (various points, including Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s vow that his office will “take whatever steps are necessary [emphasis added] to ensure this phthalate ban is enforced”); Feb. 12 (what ingredients in playthings are going to replace phthalates, and are those ingredients going to be more safe or less?); Mar. 4 (vintage dolls); Mar. 11 (California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were particularly identified with pushing the phthalates ban to enactment).

P.S. Environmentalists disputing the NPR coverage: Jennifer & Jeremiah @ ZRecommends, Jennifer Taggart (The Smart Mama) in NPR comments. And Sacramento attorney Anthony Caso has a backgrounder for the Washington Legal Foundation (PDF) with more about the CPSC, the NRDC, and maneuvering on phthalates.

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  • We all know that politicians’ sententious pronouncements about the needs of the poor often ring hollow. But are our elected officials truly unaware of the role thrift shops play in the lives of those trying to raise families with no margin of financial safety? Valerie Jacobsen and Deputy Headmistress have both blogged movingly on the subject, and the latter is back today with a must-read post recalling the morning when her own family unexpectedly expanded through adoption overnight from three children to five:

    We had no clothes for them, no beds, no presents; nothing was in readiness for them, except our hearts (and even those needed some sprucing up). They came on a Friday. We went shopping on a Saturday. Where did we go shopping? Thrift shops, of course. We had an immediate and urgent need for clothing, toys, and bedding for two new children, and we lived on an enlisted man’s salary. It was only two weeks before Christmas. The thrift shop enabled us to fill the gap between our income and our needs.

    Now families that rely on thrift stores are in trouble from coast to coast: Salem and Marblehead, Mass. (“Throwing away perfectly good clothing”); Nantucket, Mass. (imagine being a landscaper or laundry person trying to raise a kid on that expensive island); Herkimer, N.Y. (“new motto, ‘When in doubt, throw it out'”); Beaver County, Pa.; Imperial, Neb.; Denver, Colo.; San Luis Obispo, Calif. (“I say, ‘Just try to pass the toys down through your family or give them to friends,’”); The Garden Island (Kauai, Hawaii)(via CLC and CPSIA). Some background from NARTS (National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops), which is doing a CPSIA Impact Survey of its members.
    bostonbeansredridinghood2

  • The Wall Street Journal editorializes about the law again today, aiming its main attack at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who “won’t admit a mistake and fix the law“.
  • Quite the video on the minibike ban, with youth road racing champion Josh Serne, at AmendTheCPSIA.com. Amateur MX has photos from the Malcolm Smith rally. More powersports coverage: Rochester area, N.Y.; Albany/Hudson Valley, N.Y.; McHenry County, Ill.; Associated Press.
  • James Leroy Wilson at DownsizeDC: “What is Congress doing about it? Canceling hearings.” And Amy Ridenour, National Center: “Outrage of the Day: Waxman Drags Feet on Needed CPSIA Reform”.
  • “It’s on the books, and that’s the problem for libraries across North Texas,” reported Dallas’s CBS 11 earlier this month (via Rick Woldenberg). Per Fox Albany, the Albany Public Library and the library in suburban Guilderland each estimate that they would have to discard around 10,000 older children’s books if an exemption is not made available. Guilderland library director Barbara Nichols Randall says her institution on average weeds out about 1,600 books a year on average currently, which of course does not mean that they exclusively target the oldest books for weeding. Albany library director Timothy Burke foresees the results at his library as “10,000 fewer books for kids to use”.
  • velveteenrabbit

  • Carter Wood at ShopFloor thinks what’s happening with vintage books is reenacting the story of the Velveteen Rabbit:

    And so the little Rabbit was put into a sack with the old picture-books and a lot of rubbish, and carried out to the end of the garden behind the fowl-house. That was a fine place to make a bonfire, only the gardener was too busy just then to attend to it. He had the potatoes to dig and the green peas to gather, but next morning he promised to come quite early and burn the whole lot.

  • Candy Corn Studios makes an important point: “Children have access to dozens of small items that were never intended for children.” If grandpa takes the kids out fishing, there’s no law (yet) forcing him to keep the lead sinkers in his tackle kit under lock and key. Meanwhile, purely notional risks that have never been linked to any real-world instances of poisoning are used as the excuse for turning real people’s lives compulsorily upside down.
  • Attorneys Michael B. Goldsmith and Jay L. Silverberg of Sills Cummis: “No legislation in recent memory has engendered more confusion and consternation than the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008… There continues to be tremendous disruption, confusion and concern in a variety of industries affected by the CPSIA.” Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a long-time non-favorite at this site, thinks the main problem with the law is that it’s not being enforced enthusiastically enough.
  • And don’t forget the rally in Washington Wednesday (buttons and banners, list of rally speakers, including many familiar from this space).

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slothfultoad

Carter Wood at ShopFloor has a very useful compilation of what are probably all the current bills introduced in Congress related to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. (More, of course, may follow as the crisis continues.) Of the 10 bills, one is an omnibus appropriation bill, while the other nine (six in the House, three in the Senate) all appear from their descriptions to be aimed at reforming the substance of the law, its timetables and deadlines, or both.

Significantly, there was introduced this week the first bill with a Democratic (i.e. majority) sponsor, a bill by Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester to overturn the dirtbike ban.

The three bills in the Senate are S. 608, the Tester bill on motorcycles and related vehicles; S. 374, the much-discussed bill by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) that would have injected common sense into several areas of the law, and which Congress (under pressure from Public Citizen and others) refused to incorporate into the stimulus package; and S. 389, a bill introduced by Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) “to establish a conditional stay of the ban on lead in children’s products, and for other purposes.”

The six bills in the House are H.R. 1510 and H.R. 1587, introduced by Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), both relating to cycles/vehicles; H.R. 968, by John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and H.R. 1465, by Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.), both of which are described as providing “regulatory relief to small and family-owned businesses”; H.R. 1046, by Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), to “ensure the effective implementation of children’s product safety standards under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008″, and H.R. 1027, by Bill Posey (R-Fla.), to “exempt second-hand sellers of certain products from the lead content and certification requirements”.

CORRECTION: I erroneously listed Indiana Congressman Brad Ellsworth above as a Republican, but he is a Democrat; fixed now.

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Fewer options for kids in Santa Rosa, California:

We are sorry to report that Eleven 11 Kids has been forced to close its doors as of February 10, 2009 due to the new federal children’s environmental law, CPSIA, (HR4040) that went into effect on 2/10/09.

And then the store explains in some detail why it felt it had to close. It is too polite, perhaps, to mention that both California senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, played prominent roles in getting CPSIA passed, with Boxer in particular pushing the retroactive phthalates ban that has been notably harmful to resellers.

Plowed under

At ShopFloor, Carter Wood writes that the Senate version of the bill was (even) more extreme in its provisions than the House version, and that the Senate version unfortunately “wound up playing a bigger role in the writing of the final bill”. The Hospice of Amador and Calaveras Thrift Store, in California’s Sierra Nevada, is still operating but has stopped carrying children’s items.

In Ellensburg, Washington, north of Yakima, Cheryl Smith was “living the American dream” with her store Hailina’s Closet, which “opened last April and [sold] gently used children’s clothing and toys.” But it is just a memory now. The Kitsap Sun reported that Perfect Circle, a Bremerton children’s consignment store, also had to go out of business.

A few more reports from Goodwill: Roanoke, Virginia, Le Mars, Iowa (rare good news, some items being put back on shelves), Rock County, Wisconsin.

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stuffedpatchworkturtleNo, discarding 500 once-loved stuffed animals doesn’t really amount to much of a story amid scenes of billion-dollar disruptions caused by this law elsewhere around the country. But if you’re one of the people who run the Second Fling consignment shop in Goldsboro, N.C., it might still seem kind of sad.

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