Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CPSIA - Congress and CPSC in the Clouds . . . .

I have heard from an old friend today, a resale shop owner. The store owner is as frustrated as anyone by the CPSIA and has some interesting observations. The store owner's point is that it is utterly impractical for store personnel to be up-to-date on recalls or to manage recall issues on a day-to-day basis. Think recalled baby monitors with "remedies" like a new warning label. Think also of the national chain of resale shops that told us that many of their MANAGERS are paid $8 per hour. Can you get a sense of the brilliance of Congress' master plan yet?

The store owner sent me a picture worth a thousand words:

The store owner: "The photo I've attached is of my six-inch binder of printouts for every recall on children's items since the early 90's. The papers on the floor are the new recalls since September 2010. I printed those last week, so I need to go back and print the newer ones. I take this binder to all my events and strive to search it thoroughly to keep recalled items out of our events. I'm going shopping today to pick up a second six-inch binder as I'm obviously going to need it." [Emphasis added]

Sounds very practical. I am sure Scott Wolfson and Sean Oberle have some useful tips for this store owner on how to manage all this data. It is worth NOTING that rifling through 20 years of CPSC recalls is not the store owner's main business - their business is selling gently-used merchandise - but it probably seems like it nowadays.

The store owner is also a victim of unscrupulous "gaming" by a competitor who seeks to capitalize on fear and the ambitions of local politicians to put pressure on him/her. The store owner: "I'm no longer comfortable posting publicly about CPSIA since a local children's resale full-time store owner has told several of her shoppers that she's planning to call the [local] Attorney General to come investigate my next seasonal consignment event to be sure I'm in compliance with CPSIA. Since I don't have XRF vision, there is no way to prove I'm in compliance with the instructions to not resell anything over the lead limits, despite the fact that I'm not required to test. I still don't have a clue what do to about phthalates, but I've banned all bath books, bath toys, & teething toys from our events anyway." [Emphasis added]

There's a stimulus plan for you. . . .

Did you catch the store owner referring to any topic relating to safety, such as injuries or concern for the health of children? Nope. It isn't the concern of the competing store owner or the local Attorney General, either. This is about officious bureaucracy, paperwork for paperwork's sake, all to satisfy a neurotic anxiety without a basis in FACT.

I used to ask "Where are the victims?" The zealots in the last three years have been able to produce exactly ZERO injured children from lead or phthalates in children's products. So I guess I have to nominate my friend the store owner - a prototypical victim of this law.

Job well done, Congress and CPSC!


Anonymous said...

Well, now that I can categorically ban all children's jewelry, all children's clothing with drawstings, all drop-side cribs & most stationary-side cribs, I can just remove those pages from my binder, leaving more room for things like today's recall of 350,000 BOB strollers because one child managed to tangle herself in a drawstring on the canopy before her mother was able to free her. At least by recalling an item, it's is CLEAR that I cannot offer it for resale. With the lead limit, I can't clearly know if it is safe to sell without testing it, but of course, I'm not required to test, I just can't sell items over the limits.

When I first heard talk of a "database", I actually thought the CPSC was putting together a searchable, electronic database of recalls that consignment store & sale owners could use to quickly & easily check for recalls. Boy, was I wrong!

I don't want children to be hurt, but I do want to operate the business I've worked six years to build in a legal way. I still don't know how to stay open and fully comply with CPSIA. I didn't know how in February 2009 and I still don't know how in February 2011.

Retailer359 said...

That BOB recall is awesome, seeing as how the drawstring can't reach the child seating area. My guess is the child was standing up, leaning back over the canopy, and managed to touch the drawstring. In fact, s/he might have been holding it to avoid falling off!

Retailer359 said...

Ms. Nord hasn't yet approved my comment posted at

so I figured I'd put it somewhere here as well:

I have no doubt Ms. Cowles would be happy to assist the above father in understanding why his activities place the children of America in immediate danger.

Anonymous said...

I walked into a tiny book store today and was delighted to find just a few precious old books . . . illegal children's books. I bought one--all I could afford. One less book for the dump! Strike one for victory for the people!!

halojones-fan said...

It seems to me that the store owner should consider suing the competitor for libel.