At a time when people are relying more on secondhand stores because of the economy, many thrift stores are not celebrating. After an upsurge of highly publicized tainted toy recalls in the last few years, Congress has stepped in, passing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. As part of the law, new federal lead limits took effect in February banning lead content beyond minute levels, 600 parts per million, in any product for kids 12 and younger. Now, it’s not only illegal to manufacture lead-laced products, but also illegal to sell them, no matter when they were made or where they are sold. Stores could be fined up to $100,000 per violation.
This law has the unintended potential for putting many resellers out of business.
According to CNN, the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops claims some of the tens of thousands of secondhand stores across the country are preparing to shut their doors out of fear.
:”This has gotten so serious and it is so frightening because we serve consumers that sometimes have no other way to clothe their children,” states Adele Meyer, Executive Director, National Association of Retail & Thrift Shops.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the agency implementing and enforcing the new all-encompassing law, acknowledges while well-intended, the new rules are somewhat unclear.
“With the economy the way it is right now, we all are concerned about safety. But we don’t want to unnecessarily be impacting jobs and businesses,” states Joe Martyak, Spokesman for CPSC.
While the commission is allowing manufacturers an extra year to comply with testing requirements, it isn’t offering a similar reprieve for sellers of restricted products. However, according to ABC News, an attorney interviewed says as long as secondhand stores make a good faith effort to only sell safe toys, it’s unlikely they will be prosecuted, even though selling uncertified toys is technically illegal under the new law.
Still unclear is how the new law will impact online resellers such as eBay and Craigslist. Will all products offered through those channels require certificates of compliance?
Also affected: millions of charities, which may no longer be able to accept donations without a certificate of compliance. And this certificate can only be obtained through expensive testing by an SCPC-accredited laboratory.
And you may want to think twice before holding that next garage sale.