Friday, January 02, 2009

the end of small businesses like ours?

Today we recieved this email and information from SMALL magazine, which worries us. Please take the time to read.

"We are writing to inform you of action taken by Congress this past August to pass the HR4040--the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). We are pleased that Congress passed a bill to protect our children from toys containing lead and phthalates and addressing other safety issues. However, parts of this bill will directly effect all small handmade toy makers, designers and store owners in a way that will put many of them out of business. The CPSIA rules now requires all children's products, including natural handmade toys and clothing to be tested by a Third Party Lab, often at a cost of up to $4,000 per item. That could cost a small company more than $20,000 a season.

The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of children's goods that have earned and kept the public's trust: Toys, clothes, and accessories made in the US, Canada, and Europe. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade children's products will no longer be legal in the US.

If this law had been applied to the food industry, every farmers market in the country would be forced to close while major food manufacturers such as Kraft and Dole prospered.

For small American, Canadian, Australian and European toy-makers and manufacturers of all children's products the costs of mandatory testing will probably force them out of business.
  • A toymaker who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
  • A small-scale designer selling screen printed kids t-shirts from Australia will have to undergo expensive testing and provide permanent tracking labels for each item in order to sell within the US.
  • A work at home mom in Texas who makes handmade clothing must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
  • A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
  • And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.

Please check out the Handmade Toy Alliance to read more about this issue. handmade logo
Also please consider signing the following petitions:

Child safety and the environment is a top priority here at Small Magazine and we are concerned by the dangerous and poisonous toys that large toy manufacturers have been selling to our nations families. That is why we support the independent designers and companies making safe, handmade products for our children.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and we appreciate your help."
We are not American, but many of our cutomers are and we think this could effect many small businesses worldwide. We just signed the petition. It only takes one minute. Please join in!

We are also interested in what you - dear readers - think about this issue, especially if you are having a small business like ours. Thank you!


Anaïs Goldemberg said...

This is really ironic : when some big firms are making toys and puppets with poisonous paint (some big scandals with China-made toys, just before christmas..)!
There are some creators who had the label "this is not a toy" on their puppet, cushion or other creations for kids. Maybe it's a way to wriggle out of these tests..

Friederike! and Sandra said...

Hi Anais, thank you!
That was one of my first thoughts too, ok from now on I will have to add: "not suitable for children", or something like that. I guess in the next step, I´d have to remove the pics of children holding my toys from my website.
Like you said it´s ironic.

Mela said...

i'm german but live in the states right now. this whole thing is absolutely ridiculous.
the big companies will find a way to sell their junk but the toys and clothes made with love by so many people like you will disappear...
so sad!!
it's like the fruit and vegetables in europe - everything has to look like the norm, smaller fruit or a cucumber that doesn't have the right shape may taste even better but is not allowed to be sold...
sorry i'm ranting ;o)
i hope there is a solution!

Larissa Holland said...

I signed the petition and wrote my congressman. What a stupid oversight! I really hope it doesn't affect your business.

Friederike! and Sandra said...

@Mela: hallo :) as far as I´ve heared there will be a revised form for the norm of cucumbers. That´s a beginning, don´t you think? ;)

@Larissa: great, I think you´ve done everything one can do.

Bogi said...

Can't believe - this may not happen... signed the petition today.

Friederike! and Sandra said...

thanks honey :)

nancyann said...

I too signed the petitions as soon as I found out. I am really hoping they change things appropriately. I don't want to think of what will happened to stay at home moms and smaller craft businesses if they don't fix it :(

kebrina said...

I have signed the petition at and fowarded it all my family and friends. I started my kid clothing line this year and am not planning on designing a summer line if this does not get figured out. :(