Monday, January 19, 2009

THE LOCAL IMPACT OF THE CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY IMPROVEMENT ACT

When we first heard about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the rather confusing and surprising law Congress passed in an apparent knee-jerk reaction to the spate of lead-tainted toys from China, we wondered about its impact on stores like Dripping's own Itsy Bitsy Spider, the local children's clothing consignment store, as well as our Hill Country Senior Citizens Thrift Store.

In a nutshell, beginning February 10, 2009, the CPSIAprohibits the sale of children’s products (including clothes) if they contain more than 600 parts per million (ppm) total lead. The upshot of this law would mean resellers would be subjected to the costly testing of their inventory to prove each item did not exceeed the lead limit. The financial impact on not only the resellers, including charitable thrift store many of whom derive much of their annual income from the resale of children's clothes, but those customers whose budgets rely on consignment and thrift store items, would be devastaing. And, where would all those used unsold, unused clothes go?

While the reality of the impending law still has many scratching their understandably worried heads, it does look like the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which implements the law, has backed off a bit with regard to secondhand and nonprofit thrift stores, by saying that these resellers are not required to test but are still subject to civil and/or criminal penalties if they do sell items that exceed the lead limit. Not surprisingly, this still has many resellers worried and in limbo. And, what about those who sell their kids' outgrown clothes on Craigslist and eBay?

The National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops have rallied to "Save Children's Resale" and is urging customers to call and write their Congressmen now (February 10th is just around the corner). You can learn more, and download a sample letter, on their site by clicking here.