Tuesday, January 13, 2009

CPSIA and the Consumer - from Patty Young

Patty Young is the designer of many of the fabrics used in my Fall 2009 Collection - please read her blog post about the CPSIA below.

From Patty Young @ ModKidBoutique (Link below)

CPSIA and how it will affect YOU, the consumer

If you read my blog chances are you also read other craft-related blogs out there and are probably sick of seeing the acronym CPSIA all over the web. I hope you don't turn away when you see the title of this post because you think this is some sort of industry-related stuff that does not pertain to you, the consumer, the buyer. Just give me a couple of minutes to explain how this law will also affect you, if it indeed goes into effect on February 10th, 2009.If you think the internet is saturated with CPSIA rants that is because February 10th is right around the corner and people are finally starting to realize that it's too close for comfort.Here are a few questions I'd like to ask you:

  • Have you purchased handmade, or "boutique," clothes or accessories for your kids in the past?
  • Have you ever gone into your local family-owned toy shop in search of unique toys for your children? Something perhaps you can't find at Walmart or Toys R Us?
  • Have you ever received a handmade quilt, baby blanket or pillow for your child?
  • Have you ever purchased anything for your child at a local arts & craft fair? or at your school? or at your church?
  • Have you ever commissioned a special piece of furniture (crib, rocking chair, high chair, doll house) from a local artisan?
  • Have you purchased anything on Etsy, and I mean anything (jewelry, shoes, toys, clothes, hairbows, bibs, burp cloths, blankets, booties, books) for your kids in the past?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this law will affect you too. (But even if you prefer to buy from large toy & clothing manufacturers, this law will still affect you... read on.) As a little background, the CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and it was written after high levels of lead were found in toys and other children products manufactured in China. I'm sure most of you remember that mess a few months ago! Well, we are all in favor of protecting our children from dangerous substances, that is not the issue here.

The issue is that the way this law is written the only items on the shelves that will be available for children will be coming from these large manufacturers that created the problem in the first place, because they are the only ones who will be able to afford the very costly third-party testing for lead and phthalates as mandated by this law.And just to clarify, we are not asking for this law to be obliterated. We all care about the safety of our children. We are just asking for it to be amended to protect innocent small businesses across America which mostly started as a result of wanting to give parents and children a safer alternative to mass-produced toys & clothes.

What does this mean for our economy? If this law goes into effect, hundreds of thousands of indie designers, seamstresses & crafters will have to cease producing their adorable handmade goods because they won't be able to afford the cost of testing and certification (and if you're wondering just how costly these tests are, check out this comprehensive article written by Happy Panda. She has done extensive research on this matter!). It also means that hundreds of thousands of children's boutiques, indie bookstores and privately-owned toy stores across the nation will have to close their doors because their vendors will be gone and they won't be able to afford testing of their own. No wonder they are calling February 10th, 2009 "National Bankruptcy Day"!

And what does this mean for you, the consumer? It pretty much means that if this law goes into effect, you will no longer be able to buy gorgeous handmade clothes, shoes or accessories for your children. It also means that you will not find small-run, handmade, unique toys at your local privately-owned toy store and you will probably never see children's products sold a Craft Fairs across the country again. But if you do happen to see any of these products available after February 10th, they will now bear overinflated prices because their makers will have to add on the cost of testing and certification.

Be prepared to pay $800 - $1000 for a custom boutique outfit that used to only cost $100 - $200. And speaking of over-inflated prices, you will see these on mass-produced children's items from large manufacturers too as these companies will incur the high costs of testing as well.But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just as I was writing this post, I came across this article (via Boutique Cafe) that states that "[CPSC Spokesperson, Patti Davis] said hand-made, one-of-a-kind items likely will be exempt, which would allow small-time crafters and seamstresses of children’s products to continue making and selling original products.” This is a promising assertion, but unfortunately is not an official ruling at this point (note the use of the word "likely"). I hope we can make it official.So, what can you do to help? There are several ways you can make your opinion be heard:

Sign this petition to repeal the CPSIA

Vote for this idea on Change.org to be presented to President Elect Obama on inauguration day

If you feel so inclined, contact your Senator and Congressman/woman regarding this issue

Spread the word! The more people that are aware of this the better.Thanks for staying with me through this long and grueling post. I can't stress enough how important this issue is. If I find out any updates I will post them here.

P.S. I do want to add that because this law was so poorly written, it has been interpreted differently by just about everyone out there. I was just chatting today with some business owners that I have gotten to know well over the years and everyone seems to have a different opinion as to whether this law will affect them or not, and also whether the law is retroactive. If anything comes out of all this publicity, I will hope at least it will force the law-makers to take a closer look at how the law is written and make any necessary exemptions and clarifications before it is too late.

**Getting off my soap box now**
Posted by modkidboutique


Anonymous said...

Fortunately it was announced on Jan 30 that the enforcement of CPSIA Testing Requirements was delayed for One Year.

Manufacturers and importers—large and small—of children’s products will not need to test or certify to these new requirements, but will need to meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards and other requirements.