Thrift stores could feel effects of new law

Published 10:25 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Local thrift stores and consignment stores could soon feel the effects of a consumer product safety improvement act that went into effect Feb. 10.

Under the new law, which was passed last August, children’s products with more than 600 parts per million total lead cannot be sold in the United States on or after Feb. 10, even if they were manufactured before that date.

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In addition, certain children’s products manufactured on or after Feb. 10 cannot be sold if they contain more than 0.1 percent of certain phthalates or if they fail to meet new mandatory standards for toys.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, federal law now requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify children’s products made after Feb. 10 meet all the new safety standards and a lead ban.

Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards, the commission said.

The new law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold.

However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit.

According to the commission, those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.

According to Mark Jones, divisional public relations director for the Salvation Army, his company abides by all laws and will do so in the case of the legislation beginning today.

“The Salvation Army is committed to serving suffering humanity and wants to ensure that our program and business practices are in no way harmful,” Jones said.

But, there is still concern of how it will affect the Salvation Army.

“While it is too early to know what the full impact of the law will be, the Salvation Army anticipates the legislation to have a potentially negative effect on our ability to offer children’s clothing and toys in our stores,” Jones said.

“We continue to assess the situation and should have a better pictures of our expectations in the coming weeks.”

Still, the Salvation Army locations in the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana areas might not be hit as hard as other parts of the country because they no long accept toys, and haven’t for a while.

“We decided to make this decision about three years ago,” Jones said. “There is so much involved because of the compliance issues.”

Jones says the Salvation Army does not consider bikes and other sporting goods to be toys.

“We may reverse this decision at a later date, but as of right not we do not sell toys,” Jones said.

The same holds true for Goodwill Industries, Public Relations Director for Central Alabama Kristen Sherea said.

“Originally the law was interpreted to only apply to products manufactured after Feb. 10, but now it has been interpreted to apply to all products,” Sherea said.

According to Sherea, this could result in a larger impact than they initially thought, but at this time it’s too early to determine the full extent of what will happen.

“The largest thing with Goodwill is safety and well-being of our customers,” Sherea said. “We make sure that recalled items don’t make it to our shelves.”

According to the CPSC, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers should be aware that they will not impose penalties against anyone fore making, importing, distributing or selling a children’s product to the extent that it is made of certain natural materials such as wood, cotton, wool or certain metals and alloys, which the commission had rarely recognized, to contain lead, an ordinary children’s book printed after 1985 and dyed and non-dyed textiles that doesn’t include leather, vinyl or PVC, and non-metallic thread and trim used in children’s apparel and other fabric products, such as baby blankets.

Still, sellers should remain aware that they will not be immune from prosecution if CPSC’s office of compliance finds that someone had prior knowledge that one of these children’s products contained more than 600 ppm lead, or continued to make, distribute, import, distribute or sell such a product after being put on notice.