CPSIA Impact on Small Business, Thrift Stores, and the Environment

8 years ago

I am writing about something I learned today. It is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. While I appreciate the intentions of safeguarding children I do not feel this has been thought out before being put into effect. Like so many other laws it was written too broadly and pushed through before considering all the consequences. Instead of targeting the manufacturers and distributors of new products who were selling toys containing lead, it is also targeting small businesses, thrift stores, and consignment stores.

For generations families have relied on hand me down clothing and toys for their children. They have turned to consignment stores and thrift stores to help stretch their dollars, essential in tough economic times like these. Charities have relied on donated items that are sold in their thrift stores to support their efforts and causes. But a new law that has been put into effect will put an end to that.

Today I visited my local consignment store to sell some of Monkey's smaller clothing for the next size up. I discovered this place while pregnant and have made friends with the owners. We have found some amazing deals at this store, and saved a ton of money in the process. Just last month I got Monkey some clothes that would have cost me well over $100 at the store, and I paid nothing because I sold some of her smaller clothing for store credit. A Gymboree outfit for $3, a Baby Gap coat for $4, where else can you find such amazing deals?!

Today the owner informed me that they can no longer take any items due to a new law that was put into effect. Starting in February all items sold for children under 13 years of age (toys, clothing, etc.) must be tested for leads and toxics. This isn't just new items, but also used items being sold at consignment shops and thrift stores. And it's not just toys either, but clothes, shoes, socks, EVERYTHING. Each item has to be tested, and according to the owner it is $150 for each item. This is not feasible for resale stores and thrift stores who sell their used clothing for an average of $3 or $4.

These stores will be forced to shut their doors, losing their American dream of owning a business, and putting their employees out of work. Thrift stores that are operated by St. Vincent de Paul, American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, and so forth will no longer be able to sell children's items and clothing. You won't even be able to sell items at a yard sale. This will also affect people who make handmade clothing that they sell at craft fairs or on Ebay. They will no longer be able to sell their items, putting them out of business as well.

This will put undue hardship on struggling families who depend on consignment shops, thrift stores, and yard sales to get clothing and shoes for their children. It is believed that this will also drive up the prices of children's items since retailers will have no competition from small business.

There is also an environmental impact caused by this new law. If the stores cannot afford to test each and every item in their store, they will have to dump their entire inventory in a landfill. Since families will no longer be able to donate children's items and clothing to charities or sell them at a yard sale, I wonder where they will end up? Yes, the trash!

I have already written to my local representatives asking that used items be excluded from CPSIA, and I urge everyone else to do the same.

For more information, please read the following article by the L.A. Times:


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