Resellers are waiting to learn impact of law affecting children’s clothing

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 9, 2009

By Susan Shinn
A new law slated to go into effect on Tuesday has local thrift shop owners in a wait-and-see mode.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act has to do with fear about lead in children’s products.
Resellers have been asked to pay special attention to certain categories, according to a press release from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
These include “recalled children’s products, particularly cribs and play yards; children’s products that may contain lead, such as children’s jewelry and painted wooden or metal toys; flimsily made toys that are easily breakable into small parts; toys that lack the required age warning; and dolls and stuffed toys that have buttons, eyes, noses or other small parts that are not securely fastened and could present a choking hazard for young children.”Yet the issue that has local resellers most concerned is the fact that the law was written to include all children’s products for ages 12 and under ó including clothing.While it’s up to the manufacturers to test such products ó thrift shop owners say such testing is cost prohibitive to them ó business owners must still comply with the new law.
On Jan. 30, the CPSC granted a one-year stay of enforcement for certain testing and certification requirements for manufactures and importers of products for children 12 and younger.
For now, local resellers are awaiting further guidelines.
“We try to check recalls,” says Scottie Davis, owner of Encore on Main in downtown China Grove.Davis has a huge inventory of children’s toys and clothing.
“We don’t take things that are outdated and old,” Davis says. “Surely their intentions were not to fill the landfills. We’re gonna try to be a little bit stricter on what we take in and check on recalls more closely.”
Davis knows if consignors can’t turn in clothing, they’ll either donate it or give to relatives or friends, so the clothing will still be in circulation.
“Things won’t disappear,” she says. “They’re still gonna be there.”
Davis believes lawmakers had good intentions.
“They just went about it the wrong way.”
Nichelle Fleming, CPSC spokesperson, says resellers must make an “educated guess” on whether or not to take some items. For clothing, special attention must be paid to buttons, snaps and appliques which could contain lead, Fleming says.
Traci Burleyson and Kaye Pate run a consignment sale twice a year at their church, World Hope Worship Center, on N.C. 150.
“We discussed that we would wait until February to see what happened,” Burleyson says.
This is the time of year that the women start collecting items for the spring consignment sale.
The sale includes items for children from birth to size 16.
“We sell so many toys,” Burleyson says. “Baby equipment is so popular. I hate that they’re big-ticket items.”
Burleyson continues, “We have our own guidelines as far as condition of items.”
They keep up with recalls, she notes.
The consignment sales are fundraisers for the church’s children’s ministries.
Consignors keep 70 percent and the church receives 30 percent.
The semiannual sale nets a “significant amount of money” for the church, Burleyson says.
“We look forward to it because we have so much fun,” she says. “It would be sad not to have it.”Pate agrees.
“What I’m hoping is that we can have the sale,” she says. “It’s an outreach to our community. A lot of people go to consignment sales to get their children’s clothing. That’s what they look for. That’s what they depend on.”
For Dale Newman, owner of Growing Pains on West Innes Street, safety remains her main concern.
“We’re just going to have to educate ourselves on what we don’t take,” she says. “We don’t take car seats, toys and cribs.”
Newman thinks the new law is too broad.
She says she’s “really picky” in what she accepts from her consignors.
“The last crib I ever sold was recalled,” Newman notes.
She contacted the buyer, who elected to keep it.
“But you worry,” she says. “It ages you fast. The best decision is just not to sell something. You really have to keep up with recalls.”Resellers agree that after children’s clothing becomes certified later this year, their jobs will ultimately become easier.
But it could take years for those clothes to enter the resellers’ market ó and years for questionable clothing to cycle out.