Feb. 10 is fast approaching, and for those of you who have been following the debacle that is CPSIA, the Consumer Product Safety Imporvement Act, that means there are only a few weeks left before children's thrift stores and consignment shops will have to choose between closing their doors and breaking the law. The law that was originally intended to improve the safety of toys and products sold to children has inadvertently put a number of American families at risk.

Two weeks ago, the Consumer Products Safety Commission released a CPSIA press release in an effort to assure these small businesses owners that they would not be directly targeted for CPSIA compliance. But the wording of CPSIA was not changed, so thrift store and consigment shop owners, toy manufacturers, and even libraries would open themselves up to legal troubles if they continue to sell or distribute children's products without testing and labeling.

So Feb. 10 has even been dubbed National Bankruptcy Day, the day that "untold numbers of children's products manufacturers and retailers will be closing their doors." Here are some thoughts from one of those retailers:

I own and operate Trading Post for little folks. It is a children’s & maternity resale shop here in Essex Junction, VT. My family & I started this business from the ground up 12 years ago. Since we opened, our goal has been to provide a place for families to come and find excellent quality items at affordable prices for their children. In this economy, we have helped many families take care of their children’s needs. At the same time, we have helped our envirnoment by recycling gently used children’s items to keep them out of landfills.

This new CPSIA Act that goes into affect February 10, 2009 is a very big concern for me. I understand the reasons for the new law and support it, but I am very afraid of it and how it is written right now. There’s a modification for us resellers, but that is only a suggestion, not a law yet. Regardless, it really doesn’t make it any easier on us. As far as I understand, we are not required to test every item we have in stock now or in the future for traces of lead, BUT if we sell anything that violates the new law, we’re liable and risk civil and/or criminal penalties.

This could be the end of my business! I have helped support my family and the community surrounding me with this business for 12 years and I want to continue doing so. At this point, I don’t know how to make sure how I will be able to comply to this new law, except for the testing. There are no resources or guidelines out there to help me determine what are “safe” products and what aren’t. I simply can’t afford to do the testing, cover all the other costs I have to run a business, and continue helping to support my family. At the same time, I can’t afford the risks of being liable for selling a product that may violate the new law.

This not only affects my business and the thousands of others like mine nationwide. It also affects charaties, Ebay, Craigslist, garage sales, & children’s libraries. In this economy many families depend on all of these to get by. How will this affect our landfills? How will this affect my insurance? If I don’t find some guidance soon, I may be forced to close and I simply can’t afford to do that either!I really want to continue doing what I’ve enjoyed doing here for so long … supporting my family, helping other families save money and helping the environment. I’m trying to bring more awareness out there to the public on this issue. This law was meant for good, but it’s going to hurt more than help! This is going to affect many people in many different levels.

Thank you,
Michelle Ertle
TRADING POST for little folks

Want to help put an end to National Bankruptcy Day? Here's how:

Celebrate National Bankruptcy Day with CPSIA
On Feb. 10, small businesses around the country will close their doors, thanks to a controversial new law.