Say goodbye to another freedom.

Do you love shopping your local used bookstore for children’s books?
Isn’t it fun to shop children’s consignment stores and know that you are “going green” by recycling?
Are you a work-at-home mom making some of those fantastic children’s clothes that we all see on the Internet and love?
Are you an independent retailer who sells items for children 12 and under?
What about Mom-to-Mom sales, aren’t they fun?
Do you make extra money by selling your kids’ old stuff on online auction sites?
Are you an independently published children’s author?
Do you participate or shop at craft fairs?
Do you donate used children’s items to needy organizations?
What about when your church has used item sales as fundraisers?
Does your child play sports and get their uniform logos printed at a local print shop?

If you answered yes to any of the above, we have some bad news for you. Your alternatives to big box stores, mass production, and charity donations are soon to become even smaller. In February 2009, your time may have come (and not in a good way). What we’re referring to is H.R. 4040, the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) signed into law August 14, 2008, and going into effect February 9, 2009.

H.R. 4040 establishes consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children's products (especially lead-based products). The legislation works to ensure safe levels of lead and phthalates (a substance added to plastics to increase flexibility) in all products manufactured for children under the age of 12. After February 9, 2009, it will be necessary for all manufacturers, providers, sellers, and resellers of children’s products targeted at ages 12 and under to test their products for safety and unit label each product as safe. Even if the products are made from all-natural materials or if there is documentation from a manufacturer or seller stating that the items are safe, the products must still have costly unit testing and certification for each item intended for children 12 and under.

Yep, you could be selling contraband.

As H.R. 4040 is written, any product used by children 12 and under (such as toys, clothing and shoes, books, magazines, school supplies, jewelry, sports equipment and much more) without the newly required certification would be deemed hazardous, even if the item poses no actual threat. So on February 10, 2009, any unsold merchandise in stores of any type or size – from your big box stores to your favorite indie stores – will be deemed “hazardous goods” and illegal to sell unless third party testing proves otherwise.

Not only will you be unable to buy or sell uncertified items for children 12 and under, you will no longer be able to donate them to your favorite charity. Instead, the government will require permanent destruction and disposal of perfectly safe materials that simply do not have a certification because legislation would not be amended.

We care about safety, too.

Don’t get us wrong. We as parents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters agree – we should do whatever is necessary to keep our children safe. However, we don’t believe that the CPSIA’s wide-sweeping inclusion of all businesses (no matter size or function) is the way to go. For example, under H.R. 4040’s current language, there is no distinction between small or large businesses selling children’s items, manufacturers importing those goods to sell at big box stores, or the work at home mothers selling homemade items on auction sites. The legislation is applied to all businesses in the same way. H.R. 4040 is not only ambiguous, but also fails to consider independent businesses such as the ones that make handmade or all-natural/organic clothing, or sell perfectly safe children’s items (like books without lead paint or plastic components). Legislation written as all-or-nothing is simply not going to function well – for any of us.

But it won’t affect me, right?

This might not seem like a big deal to many of you. However, the unit testing required on finished products is costly – somewhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars for every item. That’s each item the store is selling for children 12 and under. This cost-prohibitive testing will mean that many of your used children’s bookstores, favorite online children’s clothing stores, and children’s consignment shops will be forced to close. In the independent business industry, this February 9, 2009, day of legislation is being referred to as National Bankruptcy Day.

That’s right National Bankruptcy Day.

We as small independent businesses are not asking for exemption from ensuring the products we sell are safe. What we are asking is a rethinking of the current legislation to fit independent businesses that are a large part of the nation’s economy and charity organizations that support people in tough economic situations.

How can you help?

So what can you do to help save your local used bookstore that sells children’s books? Or that little consignment shop? Or your EBay business selling children’s items?

ACT NOW before the quickly approaching deadlines:
1) Email or call the CPSIA - the office of the CPSC ombudsman 888-531-9070.
Comments on Component Parts Testing accepted through January 30, 2009.or email: Sec102ComponentPartsTesting@cpsc.gov

2) Contact your local representatives. For their contact information, just enter your zip code.

3) Make your voice heard by voting on this issue! The top 3 in each category will be presented to President-elect Obama.

4) Sign the petition.

5)Spread the word! Forward this article. Send an email. Write about this on your blog. Tell others about this issue and encourage them to do the same

See all the gory details up close and personal at

Jacqueline Wilson is a published author, consultant and owner of www.TheBookBlues.com. As a parent, independent business owner of multiple online businesses, and writer/bookstore owner, she has a vested interest in this legislation in more ways than one. You can email Jacqueline at jwilson@jacquelinewilson.info.


DankoRamone said... @ 7:23 PM

mom this, mom that...what about us rare good dads who shop for our spawn?

Anyhow, I find myself wondering how this will effect ebay sellers (it most certainly will not be held against the site itelf; they're made of teflon), whether by them being held to the rule, or pushed off the site when they can't adhere.

I could see where the potential exists to their being opened to lawsuits as well...

WritRams (AKA: Jackie) said... @ 7:39 PM

@DankoRamone: Parenting equality comment duly noted and sincere apology extended.

The EBay aspect is an interesting one. Around last November Amazon made resellers sign a (CYA) letter stating you are/are not selling children's items and if you are compliant with the upcoming legislation. In true business form, I deleted it thinking, "How could lead paint possibily affect me/my book sales." :o\

If they haven't already, I'm sure EBay will be doing a similar CYA letter.

Sadly, we kept our entire inventory of children's books to sell online when we sold the rest of our inventory to a new store. Once again, Karma's a little bitch...

Anonymous said... @ 6:18 PM

Do not worry. This law does not include sellers of used goods. Here is the government clarification:

WritRams (AKA: Jackie) said... @ 7:16 PM

Yes, thank you for the comment and link. I updated this on the blog on Jan. 8 when the government released the clarifications.

However, the ruling may still affect many great small businesses (i.e. mom's making new all-natural handmade goods, etc.). We should still follow this closely!

Thanks again for the comment/link!

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