I've been following the many discussions about the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) regulations but haven't talked much about it here. It's overwhelming to say the least (just try reading the original documents and you'll see what I mean). It seems, from much of what you read in the media, that the regulations only apply to children's toys. Not true. It affects every product that is intended for children under 12, including the vintage children's items I sell on my website.
The intentions of this bill were good—who doesn't support protecting children from harmful substances—but did anyone actually read the bill before voting on it? It's so vaguely worded and overreaching that it's going to have devastating consequences for small businesses that make children's products. And ones who resell them, too. That means thrift stores, eBay sellers, and children's resale shops. I've heard some talk of exemptions for this but nothing has been settled.
Basically, I'm required to certify that my products don't contain lead or phalates. And the only way to do that is to send them to a lab to be tested. It's quite expensive and they do what's called destructive testing so the item is destroyed during the process. Obviously that puts me (and anyone who sells one-of-a-kind items) in an impossible situation. It's one thing for a manufacturer who makes thousands of the same thing to comply with this law; it's quite another for the small businesses, many of them sole proprietors working out of their homes, to be able to. Or afford to.
So, what can I do? I can continue to sell the hundreds of dollars of children's inventory I have on hand and risk being prosecuted. I can throw it all out. Or hold onto it until some time in the future when the laws are amended. I'll definitely have to scrap my plans for the bibs, embroidered burp cloths, and children's aprons I was working on developing. Luckily, children's products are such a small percentage of my business that this won't put me out of business. Unfortunately, the thousands of artists and crafters whose entire line is children's product are going to be forced out of business.
What can you do? Read more about it (links below), spread the word around the crafting community, join some of the online groups, and sign the petition. It very well may be too late to do anything about this but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
A few links (there are hundreds—just google CPSIA):
Save Small Business from the CPSIA
Handmade Toy Alliance
National Bankruptcy Day
New law could wipe out handcrafted toy makers
Pelosi's Toy Story