Wednesday, January 07, 2009

no more thrift shop bargains??

Barring a reprieve, regulations set to take effect next month could force thousands of clothing retailers and thrift stores to throw away trunkloads of children's clothing. The law, aimed at keeping lead-filled merchandise away from children, mandates that all products sold for those age 12 and younger -- including clothing -- be tested for lead (which apparently costs between $20,000-$50,000) and phthalates. Those that haven't been tested will be considered hazardous, regardless of whether they actually contain lead.

"They'll all have to go to the landfill," (millions of pounds of perfectly good clothing will fill up already strained landfills) said Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Assn. of Resale and Thrift Shops.The new regulations take effect Feb. 10 under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which was passed by Congress last year in response to widespread recalls of products that posed a threat to children, including toys made with lead or lead-based paint.
Among the most vocal critics to emerge in recent weeks are U.S.-based makers of handcrafted toys and handmade clothes, (think of the thousands of moms who make clothes, quilts, diapers, sweaters, hats, etc. who will lose their businesses) as well as thrift (think of the millions of dollars that goes to charity each year that will be lost) and consignment shops that sell children's clothing (just what we need during a recession, more people forced out of work)." We will have to lock our doors and file for bankruptcy," said Shauna Sloan, founder of Salt Lake City-based franchise Kid to Kid, which sells used children's clothing in 75 stores across the country and had planned to open a store in Santa Clara, Calif., this year. (apparently this law also includes yard sales)

Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel and Footwear Assn. "The law introduces an extraordinarily large number of testing requirements for products for which everyone knows there is no lead," he said.

The regulations also apply to new clothing. That won't be a problem for large manufacturers and retailers, (makes you wonder who was pushing for this? Walmart and Target who would be the only place for parents to buy reasonably priced, though shabbily made and immodest clothing) industry experts say, but it will be a headache for small operators such as Molly Orr, owner of Molly O Designs in Las Vegas. Orr has already produced her spring line of children's clothes. She says she can't afford the $50,000 it would cost to have a private lab test her clothing line, so she's trying to sell her inventory at a steep discount before Feb. 10. After that, she is preparing to close her business.

Thrift store owners say,"We really provide a service to the community to help people get clothes for their children they otherwise couldn't afford." (with millions having lost their homes and jobs people are having a hard time putting food on the table, now Congress is asking them to shell out thousands of dollars they don't have to dress their kids in new clothes) (One owner) plans to contact her congressional representatives and senators to ask them to amend the law but says there's not enough awareness about the repercussions of the law to force anything to change.

Many retailers and thrift stores appear to be unaware that the law is changing. Of half a dozen Southern California children's thrift stores contacted by The Times, only one had heard of the law. LA Times

I called my Senators and Congressman to complain voraciously about this Consumer Products Safety Improvement (hah!) Act, how it is anti-family and anti-child. It in effect criminalizes the only way to clothe our children for a reasonable cost. I hope and pray that enough parents find out about this law and complain enough to get it recalled in some fashion, but just in case I have made a master list of clothes my kids will need for the next 5 years and will be hitting the thrift store multiple times between now and February 10 to stock up on shorts, shirts, and those all-important-in-Maine winter coats while it is still legal.

update 1/9/09: The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children’s products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards and the lead ban. Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.
The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold.

We are safe, but it doesn't mention home-based businesses.

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