Monday, October 12, 2009

CPSIA - Send Me Your Notes about Disappearing Products

We need some data about your sense of regret and loss over the disappearance of favorite products. We are interested in everyone's feelings, so feel free to share if you are a consumer, a teacher, a school administrator, a parent, a store owner, a distributor, whatever. We want to know about CPSIA-related product disappearances. Are you finding it harder to find that educational product you know and love or need, that t-shirt your daughter wants, that piece of jewelry you wanted to buy for a birthday, that special hair bow you need to make your baby sparkle? Have you lost suppliers, supply items, product lines you depend on? What are the casualties brought on by the CPSIA?

Please send me your notes. You can leave them as comments to this post, or email them to me at rwoldenberg@learningresources.com or fax them to me at 847-281-1730. Please provide your name and address, as well as a return email address.

We need to make ourselves heard. Please ask friends, family and associates to answer this call. Thank you!

22 comments:

KidBean said...

I'm an online retailer in the process of verifying CPSIA-compliance with all my suppliers. Of the 50 or so I've contacted so far, only ONE is fully compliant. The vast majority are exempt from testing, but most had not even heard of the tracking & labeling part of the law.

As of today, I have pulled 2.9% of the products in my store because they are manufactured on or after 8/14/2009 and do NOT comply with the tracking & labeling requirements.

I expect to pull an additional 20-30% in the next month. At what should be my busiest time of year, when I should be ADDING new products, I am instead REMOVING a large chunk of my catalog.

As a business owner, parent and sole provider for my family, I cannot afford the possibility of hefty fines and/or jail time for violations so I must risk erring on the side of caution.

Bonita Boutique said...

I just barely started a business, and as a business owner have found it very difficult to sell the products that are the most popular.
I have complied with CPSIA by using low lead rhinestones on my products and although I can still personalize my t-shirts, I cannot find low lead rhinestones in the colors I want nor can I find CPSIA compliant glass rhinestone transfers.

Many business owners are extremely worried with the new compliance requirements. Not only do they have to retire some of their products, creating new items and providing a diverse catalog is becoming more and more difficult.

As a WAHM and business owner, I feel pressured and nervous about these changes, knowing that my family depends on what I do.

jennifer said...

I think the other point to focus on is the stunted growth or slow death of businesses with CPSIA...all hard to quantify because it is happening S-L-O-W-L-Y.

We went to a company to ask them to make custom puzzles of our characters to start expanding one of our brands. We asked how they would handle testing (these are wooden puzzles made with completely safe paints/wood) and have yet to respond to our requests (that started in June). Perhaps they are still waiting on the CPSC or Congress for clarification?

Maybe we should attempt to sell that brand to Mattel since they have a handle on inhouse testing and are making such "safe" products.

For our clothing line the manufacturer of the snaps is waiting on a ruling from the CPSC before they decide how to structure things (even though the lead content falls below the limits of CPSIA). I'm guessing that the children's market is only a small piece of who they produce for.

So basically any new products, unless they are fabric, we are not making them.

The potential new products we would have had on the market this holiday would have been 100% safe.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I wanted to write to let you know that this new law is not only going to affect those who sell children items. I am a Work at Home Mom who runs a web design business. Due to these laws I am too being affected. I cater my business to other WAHM's who are trying to open their small businesses online. However I have received many calls and cancellations due to these new laws going into effect. Many, want to be, business owners are scared to open their sites, due to these new laws. They are mostly just either givng up or waiting until they see what it is going to cost them to even try.

This law is not only affecting developers of children's items, it will unfortunately also affect all small businesses that are helping the business of children's items.

Tina Womack
Marlow, OK 73055
elaborique@gmail.com

Ben said...

I think it would be good if we can quantify how many democrats in the industry won't vote Democratic in 2010 if Congress contines to fail us on this.

My company is all democrats and I know we won't be voting for them if they don't take a stand against Waxman and Rush

Happymom4 aka Hope Anne said...

I lost my small business, "Simple Treasures", sewing custom made children's clothing and 18 inch doll clothes. It was just getting going good, and was providing the income I needed to pay for my children's music lessons. Customers are disappointed. I'm sad.

Tristan Benz said...

I think it's going to be tough getting teachers, parents and average shoppers to point out what's missing right now.

Why? Because, by my observation, while some have obeyed the law, others have continued doing business "as usual" and are waiting in the wings while you, I and every other passionate "little guy" entrepreneur out here fights the good fight.

I think many shop owners are *hoping*, as are many Americans, that it will "change" without their having to get too deeply concerned (don't want to break a nail or anything, eh? especially since, anyone can see, it's a totally unreasonable law!). At least, that's what I've heard from too many who are not taking the same stand as we are...it surely is aggravating!

Anyway - until the day when all that IS left is mass produced carp on the shelves, it WON'T SINK IN, plain and simple.

The above comment about the slow pace at which this decline is being seen by shoppers (who AREN'T SHOPPING anyway - because unemployment is so high or they're saving and scared, given the new interest in the "basket of currencies" over the U.S. dollar or all the crazy corruption being exposed, and on and on - the list is infinite?!)...well, it's dead on accurate. If we want people to see and feel what we know and see and feel every day already, we have to - literally - pull it ALL from the market, en masse, leaving them with their "choices" in swift order. Can't get handmade? Can't get small batch produced items made here in America? Gee...go figure!

Wish I felt otherwise - but, at this point, the truth is ugly; until parents realize this as a HUGE threat to their parental authority, I guess I'm gonna have to hang out on this observation for a little while longer...

HOWEVER, I will attempt to send some folks your way and, hopefully, you'll hear from actual parents who have heard about this, care about their rights / freedoms, etc.

Best,
Tristan Benz
Maiden America

Anonymous said...

I am continuing on with my home based business, in hopes that the compliance laws will kick in our favor.. yet I am making minor changes that would effect younger children the most.. the law has caused me to focus on creating a prototype of the major accessory used in my business.. Dare i move much further?? Patience is a virture hard to possess for sure!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,

I read your blog all the time, and I only wish the people in power did also and paid attention. I am a manufacturers representative (and a member of the HTA), and have lost lines due to the CPSIA as follows:

Fish River Crafts, handcrafted wooden marionettes made in Maine, stopped doing business months ago due to the CPSIA testing requirements.

Bartl GmbH, a German distributor through which I sell wonderful wooden swords and shields, knights and pirates stuff. The tracking label thing put the nail in the coffin and as we deplete pre-August 14th inventory, they are stopping shipments to the US.

Regards,
Marilyn Chalais
--

Chalais Associates
toy manufacturers’ representatives
1127 15th St., #E, Santa Monica, CA 90403
310-899-4400; fax 310-899-1253
e-mail: mchalais@chalaisassociates.com
website: http://www.chalaisassociates.com

D. said...

I have had a home business since 1995 where I sew 100% organic cotton toys and go so far as to hand dye my own colors so that I can provide very personal, safe, handmade items that are totally natural, made only from plant-based materials, as well as made with love and care for both the children that receive them and the world which they live in.
Last summer, with the growing discussion about CPSIA, I wanted to stay ahead of the game and after calling and consulting with a selection of US-based labs, sent a sample along to test one of my teddy bears, only to find that a misunderstanding had ensued in the phone call and they had neglected to tell me that their minimum fee was $300 for any testing, plus I needed to provide more than one sample (which would have brought the testing fees above the $300 anyway). After plenty of discussion along with the company's complete lack of flexibility for accomodating a small business' financial concerns, I decided to forego testing just yet and had them return the piece.
Then, I learned that my product would be exempt from testing under CPSIA because all of my components, including my dyes, are natural materials.
However, I recently learned through HTA, which has been most supportive, helpful and informative with regard to the CPSIA and small manufacturers, that all toys must test for compliance with ASTM F963 by February, 2010. Again, I am beginning the process of contacting labs. The current thought is that testing one product would cost between $150 and $300. So, I have begun to contact some of the US-based labs on the list. (So many labs are overseas and during last year's research, I learned of the price breaks on testing which can be gotten for products manufactured, or I guess, sent there.)
Beginning estimates are not very encouraging, and between my dwindling business activity in this economy and the increasing costs incurred with staying open, I am very seriously considering closing shop.
Here is one reason, which is a response I am quoting from a reputable lab in the northeast:
" I received the following email regarding a test quote for “Plush Items”, in reference to that I have outlined your testing quote. For ASTM F963-08 Compliance Testing the Cost is $225/Product, there is also an additional fee of $350 for stuffed items. I would need to know whether or not you are registered to sell stuffed toys in MA, PA, OH & ME as these states require additional requirements. We cannot work with one sample of each since we need to perform stuffing analysis as well as flammability requirements that are in addition to the normal use and abuse requirements of ASTM F963-08. The minimum number of samples that we can work with is 4 and this does not factor in whether or not there are any surface coatings that would required lead testing or plastic materials that would require lead in substrates or phthalates testing. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions."
So, to test one doll design only, I would have to sew up 4 complete samples and send along a check for $575.
To contemplate what that estimate says is so painfully obvious that I am embarassed to think that for these past 14 years, I should have even thought to run a home business with my own handiwork in a medium which I chose with considerations of ethics, beauty and safety, to generate any sort of additional household income here in the US.
I also find it abominable that the risks of so many of these omnipresent synthetic chemicals are growing in the public eye only recently. I went through college coursework in the sciences more than 30 years ago and learned plenty about about the risks which these chemicals used in synthetic productions involved, and unless the scientists at agencies monitoring public safety slept through all o f their academic training, they heard it too!

jennifer said...

this article sums up the heart of the problem...the "change" we've all been waiting for.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/12/AR2009101202554.html?nav=rss_email/components

Tenenbaum: "We are enforcing the law, that is what we do."

I wonder if Ms. Tenenbaum would make that statement to commentor D. with the organic stuffed toys - you know...just to be on the safe-side.

We can now prepare to change who we will vote for in the next election.

Anonymous said...

I was making about 200 custom wood name trains per year. I can no longer afford to do one of a kind wood toys.

Ron Smith
oldtiller@gmail.com

cmmjaime said...

My store, Creative Learning Connection, carries new and used educational materials, including many things that I self-publish.

For our shop, that has meant the end of manufacturing several new items: baby slings, an Alphabet Fun book, and Lapbook Kits. It has been a bittersweet end to several items that had posed no risk to children, but have now been impossible to manufacture at the scale we did, according to the requirements of the CPSIA. We have already ceased the manufacturing of all of these items, and hope to have our current stock sold off completely before the February 2010 deadline makes even the existing items we made for children 12 and under illegal.

Additionally, the CPSC's "Resale Roundup" seems determined to strike fear into the hearts and minds of resellers of children's products. Since the vast majority of our store's sales are actually used items -- most of which are intended for children, we have been following the resell requirements of this toxic law as closely as those for manufacturers.

With the fact that the law was retroactive, much of what was on our shelves in February 2009 had to be removed, and many items that have been brought in since then have not made it to our shelves. It is tragic to see the number of books and other educational items that can no longer be bought and sold safely -- even though, again, none of them were ever shown to be dangerous...But they are now illegal.

This law has hurt my business and negatively affected my customers who can no longer buy and sell the same quantity/quality of used educational materials they could have in the past.

Esther said...

I had a micro-cottage business selling girl's dresses. I also work in the fashion industry doing pattern making and technical design for children's clothing. Once I learned the deep ramifications of CPSIA, I closed my online shop and donated 95% of my inventory before most of the law came into effect. I wanted to reap the tax benefits from a charitable donation before it was expressly forbidden by CPSIA.

As a pattern maker and technical designer I have seen that kind of work decline as well. While I could find enough work to maybe pay some bills, I also face a certain amount of liability. I have to ensure that the product is designed to comply with CPSIA. For the last 12 years I have managed to comply with existing regulations, but CPSIA makes it even more difficult. The confusion and detailed rules are too much. So while I still do pattern making, it is only for select businesses.

I still have to make money and I have had to move on. I work part-time in a library and I have not seen the effects of CPSIA filter in, but it is only a matter of time until novelty books disappear. I also opened a new business making and selling art books, thought not for kids because of CPSIA.

Carol Baicker-McKee, Ph. said...

My local Goodwill store has stopped accepting ANY children's toys and is very selective about children's clothing and durable goods. When I was in there a few weeks ago there were no children's products for sale at all - this a couple weeks after articles in the paper begging for donations of school supplies and clothing for back-to-school season since so many families are hurting in this economy.

I can still find pre-1985 children's books for sale online, but numbers do seem to be down and prices are definitely creeping higher. Our library's fundraising bookshop has stopped accepting or selling any pre-1985 kids' books, and the Half Price bookstores I've been in recently have moved all their older titles to the collectibles section, where they put plastic covers on them and jack up the prices.

Anonymous said...

Letter received today (published with the author's permission):

Mr. Woldenberg,

My name is Tracy Barnhart and I have been following your blog posts and information on CPSIA since I first heard about the regulation last year. I saw your post asking to hear about products that have been discontinued because of CPSIA. I run a small geology company and we produce rock and mineral kits for elementary-aged children. Earlier this year, we discontinued our Create-a-Kit which was the most popular item sold on our website. Customers were able to go to the site and pick out 15 rocks and/or minerals and we would customize a kit for them. Even though it was time consuming to produce, it sold very well for us so we continued to offer the kits. However, when I learned about CPSIA and the regulations and tracking labels we decided that it would be too difficult to produce these anymore. Handling the tracking labels on our non-custom kits is difficult and time-consuming enough.

I also have a list of products that we had planned to develop but the testing requirements will make it nearly impossible due to our small size. It is really sad to think of the products that are either being discontinued and will never be available simply because of an un-scientific law. I worked for many years as an environmental consultant and am very familiar with laboratory tests. I would have been fired if I had recommended to my clients that they test for things that were not logical. It is troublesome to see the outcome of this law.

I am working on a letter to both Senator DeMint and Ms. Tenenbaum about the law. I am hoping that since I am a South Carolina resident and they are both from here, maybe they will listen to me and have a meeting themselves to really discuss the problem. Would it be permissible for me to mention in my letter your efforts to bring awareness to the devastating effects of this law as well?

I appreciate the effort that you are making to bring awareness and change to this situation.

Kind Regards,
Tracy Barnhart
Giverny, Inc / Mini Me Geology
www.givernyonline.com
www.minimegeology.com
PO Box 342
Huger, SC 29450
tracyb@minimegeology.com

Laura H. said...

I have found, like some of the above posters, that most people are unaware of the CPSIA regulations and simply carry on making and selling their items as before; others buy and expect to continue to be able to buy whatever it is they want.

When I tell them about the new laws and regulations they often say that they are sure it will change, or won't affect them because they are so small no one cares about them, or some other reasonable expectation which those at CPSC have already shown to be foolish to actually expect.

However some homeschool suppliers, especially those who sell kits, have eliminated or reduced their lines, or changed them over to a list of needed items for the parent to find themselves. This completely removes the benefit of a kit and I don't think will be very good sellers for them.

I've contacted various online stores I frequently buy from, asking specifically what items will no longer be available to me as a consumer, and the answer is always: "Please have no concern that we would sell anything that is dangerous for your children".

That is not my concern, and they don't seem to understand what my concern is.

Anonymous said...

There are so many products missing from store shelves; from clothes with crystals to great toys that are made in Europe. My local toy store told me recently that European toy companies do not want to sell here because of CPSIA. What a loss for our children.

As the next few months go on we are going to see a lot of items that are either handmade or from mom and pop businesses disappear. I am an owner of a home based business and most of what I do is custom for my customers. The testing costs are prohibitive and there is no way I could possibly test all my finished goods.

It is just so sad that in such bad times more people are going to be put out of work and the entrepreneurial spirit of so Americans will be put out as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I first want to thank you for your blog and for all the work you do.

I had a small toy crafting business that I've closed since the CPSIA ame into affect. I made fabric books, small quilted security blankes, and that type of thing. When I was spending more time reading laws and resdearching testing facilities than sewing, I knew it was no longer worth it to me to stay in business. Since everything I make is one of a kind, testing isn't really possible.

Anyway, what upsets me most, believe it or not, isn't the loss of my own business, but of handmade or small manufacture products for my own kids. We homeschool, and I worry that when we're ready for some of the more advanced science kits, they will be unavailble or unafordable. Our local Goodwill doesn't have toys anymore either. The mess about books makes me want to cry. I haven't been unable to find anything specific yet, but I haven't really looked either. There is a great educational toystore nearby that sells lots of not-made-in-China toys, and I'm almost afraid to go visit, but I probably should, just to support them as best I can now.
Just responding to your request for stories.

Thanks again.

Kara Hartz

Anonymous said...

Just heard this week that Holcomb's is closing the rest of their stores in the next 4-6 weeks.

No comments coming from the company about why but we have our suspicions.

Bruce Lund said...

As a toy inventor, I am also affected by these regulations:

http://www.lundtoys.com/may-2009/66-blog-may-2009/240-the-law-of-unintended-consequences.html

Anonymous said...

I am a retailer with 2 specialty toy stores. We feel paralyzed around this topic! It is so complicated we do not even understand where to take action!! The solution MUST be made much simpler!!