Made in America… but not for much longer

 

The American dream of owning and running a small business is quickly dying.  Some of the latest industries to be hit are the toy industry, children’s clothing industry, and thrift stores.  Many large toy manufacturers outsourced their production to China and other foreign countries.  Many of these large companies cut costs by using cheaper labor, cheaper materials, and cutting corners. 

 

Some of these companies violated the public’s trust by cutting corners and in 2007 it was found that they were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small parts, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick.  Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.

The United States Congress recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, in August, 2008 they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number. 

 

Although these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with, it will put most, if not all, small toymakers and manufacturers out of business.  The little mom and pop companies simply cannot afford to produce their toys with these added requirements.  Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels, but for the small manufacturers who make only hundreds these additional costs would likely drive them out of business.  The additional testing could cost as much as $4,000 per item. 

Although American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007, this new law will hurt:

The toymaker who makes handmade toys in their shop or garage on a small scale just to supplement their income;

The stay at home mom who makes children’s clothes, doll clothes or quilts to sell;

The handful of larger toy makers in the United States who still employ workers in the United States;

The consumer, because they must pay higher prices to help cover the additional testing and manufacturing costs;

Thrift stores selling children’s clothes or toys;

People who sell things on e-bay intended for children 12 and under;

 

Small businesses who cannot afford to buy products due to the increased cost of the testing;

 

Folks who make any children's products and sell at Farmer's markets and craft shows to supplement their incomes;

 

Schools that have toys for play time;

 

Doctor and dentist offices, hospital waiting rooms;

 

Occupational and Physical therapists who use toys to increase motor skills;

 

Small businesses that cannot afford the testing and have to go out of business;

 

Web sites selling children's products that will have to shut down (many are run by people trying to supplement their retirement income and have spent sums of money to create their sites);

Small toy retailers who import wooden toys from Europe (which has long had stringent toy safety standards) because they too must now pay for testing on every toy they import;

Santa’s toy shop;

As our countries jobs and products are continually being outsourced to foreign countries our unemployment grows and our cost of livings grows.  Our small businesses are disappearing.  All that will be left is big government and big business.  As time goes on we, as a nation, are becoming more dependent on Government to do everything for us.  As our jobs disappear we become more dependent on the government to give us welfare, unemployment, or government jobs.  How far will it go? 

Kiki Fluhr, a woman who makes handmade dresses in her home, told Digital Journal the law leaves home crafters with a tough decision. “This law affects every stay at home mom trying to help put food on the table and every grandmother knitting blankets for the local craft fair. It makes the thousands of us who have found a niche in the burgeoning handmade market have to make a tough decision—continue to produce items illegally and possibly incur a $100,000 fine, or close up shop and maybe not be able to pay the mortgage this month.”

What can you do to help save America?  There is an organization that has formed called Handmade Toy Alliance.  This organization has drafted an amendment to the law that would exempt testing for manufactures of less than 5000 items per year and or items made of natural materials.  They also have a petition to submit to the CPSC (Child Products Safety Commission).

Please write to your United States Congress Person and Senator to request changes in the CPSIA to save handmade toys.  Use our sample letter or write your own.  You can find your Congress Person here and Senator here.

Related Articles:

New law to put thousands out of work.  …February 10, 2009 is being dubbed “National Bankruptcy Day” by many people in the apparel and toy industry.

Some Say New Product Safety Law Could Sink Small Businesses Because the law was broadly written, all products, even those sold on eBay or Craigslist, can’t be sold without a CPSIA certificate of compliance, or the sellers risk fines and jail time. The law is also retroactive, meaning current stock that businesses or home crafters sell must be tested as well.

“Because We Said So”    In defense of this lawsuit, the NRDC’s spokesperson expressed little sympathy for businesses that will have to close.

The Elmo who stole Christmas  A sad irony is that this law, if no “fix” is made, will have effects that few of its advocates would have likely found desirable.  For example, the testing requirements will encourage more mass production and less product diversification, making it particularly unprofitable for even a small business to cater to a niche market such as special needs children.

Bloggers of the World, Unite!  In the rush to pass this legislation (which sought to solve a problem that was linked to shockingly few actual injuries and/or deaths), Congress imposed with little debate a set of requirements that will be extremely costly for small manufacturers and importers of children’s products to comply with.

What does Glenn Beck have to say about this?  …anything that is made for kids under 12, even if it's secondhand, needs to be tested. Even things that couldn't have any lead in them like, I mean, lead pajamas… The typical secondhand store is bidding on thousands of items but each item only costs a couple of bucks. But now they are going to be required by February 10th to test every single item if it is meant for someone under 12. And if it doesn't get a certificate, every thread, every fiber, every piece of it, every button, every book, every toy, every piece of clothing, if it doesn't get a certificate, it has to be destroyed by February 10th…. But again common sense would tell you the problem was coming from China, punish China.