Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CPSIA - Casualties

Here are a few casualties of the wonderful CPSIA to consider. Some of these announcements are for the discontinuation of product lines, not necessarily the death of the overall business. In addition, there are many other companies that have similar stories to tell, but some of them are distributors of these product lines or else I cannot verify the business changes. And, of course, product discontinuations are rarely announced publicly in a form that we could summarize or produce here. The background losses far exceed this representative list.

Story Blox
Oopsie Dazie
Hands & Hearts (one of our customers serving homeschoolers)
Selecta (including this sad note on the "last" Selecta toy)
Woodland Magic

Some ghouls who are watching the CPSIA saga unfold want to see piles of bodies before any action will be considered. It is hard to deliver bodies because the economy is messy (cause-and-effect is not always clear) and in addition, everyone is doing everything possible to cling to (business) life. After all, these business owners need to keep their businesses going for the sake of their families, their employees' families, and their customers. There are a lot of "true believers" in the children's product market. In addition, many people (our company included) are waiting to the-very-last-minute before capitulating on the business decisions that the law is driving. No one walks away from their business without a tremendous push. Enter the CPSIA . . . .

The bodies will mount, yes, but the accumulation will be slow. It is analogous to a pin hole leak in an inflated tire - the losses are slow and hard to detect, but they add up.

It is very sad that this is how we must "negotiate" with Congress - by producing CPSIA bodies. Frankly, it makes it hard to maintain any faith in how we are governed these days.


Fabulous Pants said...

This makes my heart so heavy. I did not even get to try my hand at selling my toy creations. My family had urged me to open up a second Etsy store to sell them, but once I saw all these laws and regulations, I gave up before I even got to start. Good luck Rick! I hope things change for you and soon!

Connie said...

This is one of the most disturbing consequences of CPSIA. The end result is that many people are being hurt needlessly by this law. As one of the businesses that is clinging to life until all options have been exhausted, I am deeply saddened by such outcomes. The customers that shop at my resale store often tell me they don't know what they would do if my store did not exist for them. I don't have the heart to tell them that they may soon have to figure that out.

Thank you Rick for all that you write in defense of all the businesses and consumers adversely affected by CPSIA. And the unnerving lessons we've all had on the unresponsiveness of our Congressional representatives.

Jen said...

So very, very sad. I can add another "body" to the corpse count: as a direct consequence of the CPSIA and its testing requirements, I closed my Baby Friendly Beads line of breastfeeding jewelry at the end of last year. Each necklace and bracelet was handmade by me in Mama's Magic Studio from safe materials. But that doesn't matter. Because of the CPSIA, I no longer make anything that might be seen as a children's product.

On another personal note, I have a wonderful set of StoryBlox in my home, and my kids play with them almost every day. How very sad and distressing that they will no longer be available. Those in charge seem to think that these "little" losses don't matter. Well they do. And they are not little. It's been infuriating and heartbreaking to see how destructive the CPSIA has been -- whether intended or not, it's unforgiveable that those in power can't or won't recognize what's going on here.

Wacky Hermit said...

I was six days away from closing when CPSC came out with their third party lead testing exemptions. Because I had put everything on clearance, now I have no inventory heading into the busy Christmas season. I had figured CPSC might do this, but I had to do the clearance anyway because if they didn't, I wouldn't be able to get rid of the merchandise at all. I had to have an "exit strategy" and to be honest, I may still just quit in December. I'm working my butt off to get a catalog prepared, but unless things keep steady so I can build up the assets I'd lost in the clearance, I may not be able to take the orders.

In my business' weakened state, weakened thanks to CPSIA, the economy may yet do me in. What would be the "cause of death" then?

David Jones said...

There's an old saying, "They don't put up a STOP sign at the intersection until someone gets killed." Maybe now we can get someone in congress with just a modicum of common sense to sit up and take notice. We are nearing an election year, after all, and our elected representatives need to be representing us, not killing us.
By the way, thanks Rick, for all you are doing. Keep fighting the good fight, as we will too.

bchiasson said...

I believe Mr. Woldenberg has under-reported the casualties of the CPSIA. What we have seen thus far are businesses being forced to close their doors or dramatically reduce their product offerings; a move that will be the beginning of the end for small businesses. A more insidious result of the CPSIA will be the lay-offs resulting from dollars spent on needless testing; dollars which should be used on business growth or employee compensation. Instead, as companies across the country start budgeting for fiscal year 2010, where do you think cuts will be made to fund product testing? Since most companies' biggest expense on their Income Statement is generally labor, it doesn't take a rocket or CPSC scientist to figure this one out. Unlike these consumer advocate gadflies who don't have to worry about running a business, I personally have to wrestle with this difficult budgeting decision right now as we work on our operating budget for 2010. How do we explain to hard-working employees that we need to eliminate their position in the name of product safety? Do you think they will accept their fate by convincing themselves that their sacrifice is in the name of child safety? Perhaps the consumer advocate groups can send them a check to supplement their unemployment pay. Or, maybe Congress can let them prematurely draw from their Social Security or 401K account.

Anonymous said...

The bodies will pile slowly at first because anyone who has ever put their blood, sweat and tears into building a business knows they are a unique breed - we entrepreneurs are fighters to the bitter end!

CPSIA is like a spider that first picks off the lowest-hanging fruit, wrapping and leaving its victims to hang, in a paralyzed state, only to suck them dry when convenient; when all are well enough ripened to the point of rotted extinction.

Somehow, there has to be a better strategy than holding out while the vacuum of a complicated web that has been strung up before us, grows.

As Ronald Reagan once said, "when you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat." WHO but we, the fighting entrepreneurs who have endless creativity on our side can decide who is and is not "too small to succeed?" Perhaps now is a good time to remember...David DID slay Goliath.

At this juncture, seven months further down the road here...I sit and wonder, "is there enough fire in our bellies yet, to achieve that solidarity (voiced on my blog long ago) and burn a flame too big to ignore?"

Our fire, creativity and collective determination are resources that neither CPSIA nor our public "servants" own / control...

remshad said...

i like twiiter,but these all posts very heavy i cant bear all this