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NOTE:  This article was written in January of 2009, as was the quoted letter to our Congressmen.  Since that time, the CPSC did some revisions of the CPSIA . . .  it’s not perfect . . . but it’s better . . . keep up-to-date with this crucial law that affects anyone who manufactures or sells children’s products here www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/smbus/sbguide.pdf

The Way Too Long Arm of the Law

I’ve recently sent these opinions to just about anyone who’d listen . . . Congressmen, the Obama Transition Team, Change.org, ABC, NBC, CBS, The View, and so many different groups and individuals that I can’t even count them anymore.  Will it do any good?  I don’t know, but I do know that there’s an army of angry every day Americans out there who resent the heck out of the fact that our so-called “representatives” would sink so low as to pass a law like the Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008 (CPSIA) under the guise of “protecting children” and just in time to beat the November 2008 election . . . no thought process went into this . . . I’m betting most of them didn’t even give its widespread implications a passing thought.  You won’t get to vote for them again for some time to come, and if you’re an American small or home-based business owner or craftsperson who supplements your income by making toys or wearables for children, you may not have a nickel to your name by then . . . but let your Congressmen know right now, that what they have done is unconscionable and needs to be amended/thrown out/ or completely revised right now.  Otherwise, it all goes into effect in February 2009.

Keep in mind -- its intent was to stop dangerous foreign imports, however they forgot one minor detail . . . that it also will put out of business thousands of home-based workers who create their own products (some of them one at a time) . . . they did not exclude anyone in this wide-sweeping mess of a law.

Read on . . .

“I have never been so disgusted with Congress as I am at this moment.  Where is the common sense in this?  Child safety is important certainly, but this is overkill of the worst kind, and the most ill-conceived piece of legislation that anyone could possibly imagine.  You have no idea what you've done, or of the far-reaching implications for American business, thousands upon thousands of American handcrafters, and millions of American families.

Besides running this merchants association web site, I also operate a very small home-based toy and children's products business with 2 different web sites that sell toys and some children's wearables.  I sell many manufactured products from reputable US manufacturers, but I also sell many handcrafted products made by individual American handcrafters and wood craftsmen.  None of the toys or children's wear that I sell, including those sold by US manufacturers who mass produce, have ever been recalled or had to be remanufactured for safety reasons; but I'll be paying the price for this law anyway.

The handcrafters who I contract with do not "manufacture" as such — they simply create products with component items purchased from their local US lumber companies, fabric stores, and craft supply stores.  They are not "adding" lead-based anything to their wooden toys (most are unfinished wood, but some are "stained" with a food-coloring based stain).  The fabric capes and costumes that I sell are made by a lady who became medically disabled and needs the little bit of income she makes from me.  These people will all suffer needlessly if this law goes through as written. The companies they buy from -- Lowe's, Home Depot, JoAnn Fabrics, Hancock Fabrics, WalMart, etc., etc., will also see a decline in sales as many thousands of these small cottage industries that operate from homes will no longer be able to make items to supplement their incomes and will have to cease production.  Even churches will suffer income loss as church bazaars will also not be able to sell handcrafted merchandise for children anymore.   The Salvation Army and all church and non-profit thrift shops will suffer as they will also not be able to sell used toys or books under this law.  Makers of children's jewelry products and hair accessories and children’s clothing will all be affected.  Book stores will suffer a loss as well. 
READ your own work, please!  And be horrified by it yourselves!  It's hideously worded to cause more destruction than good!  You have committed a serious wrong against American citizens and democracy itself . . . free enterprise has apparently not been taken into consideration here at all.

This ridiculous law MUST be amended and/or completely revised to aim at the only problem -- Asian imports.  American handcrafters and small American-based businesses are NOT guilty of selling lead-based products and should be completely and absolutely exempt from this legislation. 

Just once -- ONCE -- I'd like to see our government representatives completely think something through before passing laws that are detrimental to the American public they "say" they represent.  You are not representing anyone with this -- you have just signed off on it under the guise of protecting American children, so you could hope to get re-elected last fall.   I doubt that any of you really read it through or considered all the future implications of an America that did not allow its small businesses and handcrafters to continue production.   (And you can kiss our American arts and crafts shows goodbye, too -- half of what sells at these shows is child-related.)  We've become a country of senseless governing by half-baked laws.  And we wonder why we are in economic trouble today.  Laws like this protect all the wrong people, and hurt the small American business person at every turn.

Sometimes I'm amazed that I and my friends and siblings grew up at all in the "dangerous" lead-laden world of our old 100-year-old+ houses that we lived in, with dangerous cribs, wooden play pens, no helmets, padding, or toy restrictions of any kind except for the good sense of our parents. 

I will almost certainly have to close my own toy business this year after 10 years.  This is too big to fight.  And the wonderful people I have contracted with to make handcrafted toys and costumes for me will then be out of business, too.   It's especially sad because so many cottage industries are built on the very premise that once described all our US companies—personal pride and attention to detail.  These people have a passion for their work and get their pleasure from watching children enjoy their creations, not from worshipping the almighty dollar.  One of the woodcrafters I buy from sells his toys from his web site as well as selling them to me and a few other toy stores.  He's already had orders cancelled this past month, that he was anticipating shipping in January.   And I won't be ordering anymore either at this point.  I can't afford to get stuck with more inventory than I already have on hand . . . I'm looking at a several thousand $ loss in inventory as it is. 

And by the way . . . where do think you'll be buying high quality handmade merchandise for your own children or grandchildren next year?  It won't be in America.  There won't be any!

Another nail in the coffin of the American entrepreneur — a hand-driven nail by our so-called government representatives, who once again have shown that they have no conscience, no good sense, and no interest at all in supporting American small business.”


Carol Daly, Owner                           The Creative Enterprises Network     on behalf of small business in America

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