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Katherine Lewis

The Feds Spare Thrift Stores

By January 8, 2009

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Rest easy, moms. U.S. regulators aren't going to stop Goodwill and other secondhand stores from selling used children's clothes and equipment.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today clarified that a new law set to take effect on Feb. 10 won't affect thrift stores and other resellers of children's gear. Retailers had been worried they'd have to certify that used products were free of lead and phthalates -- a cost-prohibitive procedure for many small shops.

"If you're selling used children's products, you're not required to certify that those products meet the lead limits or the phthalates standards," commission spokeswoman Patty Davis said in an interview. "What the law does require is that the manufacturers and the importers certify that those products made after Feb. 10 don't violate the new lead limits."

The commission directed resellers to pay attention to categories of products that are particularly risky since stores can be penalized for selling hazardous products. For instance, the agency mentioned cribs and play yards that are more prone to be recalled, and jewelry, dolls with buttons or painted toys that are more likely to contain lead.

I don't know about you, but this is a huge relief to me. It's also a testament to how the voices of many moms, and mommy bloggers, can be heard even in Washington D.C. Maybe there was never any danger that Consumer Product Safety Commission officials would shut down my local consignment shop, but as a working mom planning spring and summer wear for my kids, I sure am glad to know it won't happen.

Makers of handcrafted children's items must still wait for the Consumer Product Safety Commission's decision affecting their products, which is open for comment. Those manufacturers also have expressed concern that the new rule would drive them out of business.

Please share your thoughts below, and check out the blogging on this topic around the About.com Parenting channel. You can read perspectives from our guides to stay-at-home moms, grandparents, preschoolers, child care, toys and baby products.


January 8, 2009 at 6:31 pm
(1) ktcruiser says:

Whew! That is a big relief. I was worried about losing my best source for children’s clothes! Thanks for posting the clarification!

January 9, 2009 at 12:29 pm
(2) EnkoreJenn says:

Unfortunately, the press release from the CPSC
doesn’t help us at all. Though it said that reseller are not required to
test existing inventory, the law already made that clear for everyone:
resellers & retailers alike. The catching point is that we are still liable
for the retro-active nature of the law so items legally made last year may
be illegal to sell after February 10. The press release reiterates that,

“However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead
limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead
content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the
products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do
sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or
criminal penalties.”

So, without us testing, how do we know we are in compliance?

With regards to the resale industry, the only change that will help us is to
NOT make the law applicable to existing inventory. This is a huge issue,
because, Feb 10 the limit goes down to 600ppm for lead and in August, 2009,
it goes down to 300ppm (and makes it illegal to sell the items previously
legal at 600ppm). Then in August 2011, the law goes down to 100ppm for lead,
again, making all previously legal items above that limit illegal.

This is troubling for new products we sell as well because, the General
Certification of Conformity manufacturers are required to send us is not
required to state at what level of lead is present, if any. So all inventory
will have built in obsolence as the date for the new limit comes close.

To protect the resale industry, we also need the CPSC to take responsibility
for publically recalling products before holding people liable for selling

Find more info at http://www.enkorekids.blogspot.com

January 9, 2009 at 3:54 pm
(3) oldyo5835 says:

i wondering if children’s toys, etc., that are made of plastic have the marking with the number in the middle of several arrow in a triangle? if they do it may behoove the thrift stores to get rid of those with 7 in the triangle, etc. i’m not sure how many of those numbers apply. i’ve seen some that list 4,5,6,7 as toxic. is this one of the issues and does anyone know the answer to this
question? i’d like some feedback if possible.

January 10, 2009 at 8:10 pm
(4) Stacie McClintock says:

I’m so glad you brought this up! I’ve also been writing about this continuously over at Baby Clothes. There can never be too many of us getting the word out!

January 11, 2009 at 10:46 am
(5) Kate Holmes says:

Katherine, I am afraid that you didn’t read the press release carefully enough, and you have posted something incorrect.

The 3rd paragraph says (edited for brevity): “The new law does not require resellers to test children’s products …However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit… Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.”

So resale shops, whether consignment, thrift, or buy-outright, are liable to criminal action exactly as before this press release (note, it’s a press release, nothing more!)

As are the very consignors, garage-sale givers, eBayers, Etsy-ers, et al.

Please do NOT spread the word on your well-read site that “all’s well”…it’s worse than ever, because with the press release, the CPSC is trying to make us all “go away” and many of the media and bloggers have swallowed it. My cadre of shopkeepers on Too Good to be Threw, http://TGtbT.com, and my sponsoring shops at HowToConsign.com, http://HowToConsign.com, are on the verge of all becoming outlaws for selling on Feb 10 items legally produced before a few months ago and legally sold before Feb 10.

January 12, 2009 at 3:11 pm
(6) Suzanne Fenn says:

Katherine: You still are missing the point. Cloth/textiles and dyes do not inherently contain lead. What the law is concerned with regarding clothing is snaps, zippers, rivets, buttons, and other adornments. Stop to think how much inventory that includes. Not only that. but when Attorney General offices around the country are setting up whistle-blower hotlines, what makes you think resale/consignment/thrift store won’t be targeted? We are still in violation of the law if these types of items are sold. And an inventory that does not contain the above mentioned-items is a ludicrous proposition.

January 15, 2009 at 8:39 am
(7) LINDA says:

Get the government off the backs of native americans and other crafts people who sell clothes and toys

Lead is more likely from china..let’s boycott China goods if the US is doing this to us!!!!

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