January 9, 2009, - 12:18 pm

Big Guv’mint @ Work: New Rules Could Put Garage Sales, Second-Hand Retailers Out of Biz

By Debbie Schlussel
This is yet another stark example of how the government overreacts to a threat or perceived threat.
I love frequenting second-hand and thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales. I find game pieces and other stuff that I make into jewelry and other cool items. But when you or I go to the store to buy jeans, shoes, or a toy, we don’t automatically think, Oh my G-d, I’m gonna die from lead poisoning and phthalates. That’s only for the uber-neurotic . . . and the government, apparently.


Say Goodbye to Yard Sales?

Big government wants to hold all second-hand retailers accountable for testing every single last such item, and it’ll put ’em out of business. Awesome–just what we need in a sinking economy, in which we need these less expensive thrift retailers more than ever. Yup, let’s make it even harder for the Salvation Army stores to help the poor. Let’s make it impossible for Joe Sixpack to hold a garage sale to make some extra cash in tough times:

Looming federal regulations that could force used-item retailers and thrift stores to trash many children’s toys and clothing are getting a second look from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The regulations, passed under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in August and set to go into effect Feb. 10, are aimed at eliminating lead-tainted products designed for children 12 and younger. They require all such products – clothes, toys and shoes – be tested for lead and phthalates, the chemicals used to make plastics pliable.
The main issue for retailers is the costly testing, which can run from about $400 for a small item to thousands of dollars for larger toys with multiple pieces, according to Kathleen McHugh, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association.
Products not tested would be deemed hazardous whether they contain lead or not, under the wording of the law.

Abby Whetstone, owner of Twice as Nice Kids in Denver, said consignment stores such as hers would not be able to afford expensive lead tests.
“It would affect every piece of inventory we have,” Whetstone said. “We’re a little terrified at this point.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted this week to work on exemptions to the regulations and evaluate the way they could impact sales from consignment shops, online retailers and even yard sales.
“We are working on a 30-day comment period where we will hear from consumers, manufacturers, retailers, anybody affected by the act,” commission spokesman Scott Wolfson said. The review won’t be finished by Feb. 10, but the law will still go into effect that day, he said.
Wolfson said there are some obvious holes in the act, which the commission will seek to fill.
Lara Lang, who has helped run consignment sales which raise between $25,000 and $30,000 a year for the Hermitage United Methodist Church preschool in Nashville, says the concept of protecting children is good, but she was critical of the act.
“How on earth are they going to enforce that? They can’t. There are people who have yard sales. Are they going to police those?” she asked.
The changes would also affect toy wholesalers and distributors such as Challenge & Fun, a Massachusetts-based company that imports most of its products from Europe. Company co-owner Rob Wilson said he’d have to cut his 500-product line to 20 or 30 to meet the requirements. “Even there, if I have to spend $20,000 or $30,000 on testing, that’s a big hit,” he said.
Goodwill Industries International, among the charities that could be affected, is waiting for clarification before it starts changing the way it does business, spokeswoman Charlene Sarmiento said.
Carrie Weir, who owns Web-based Los Pollitos Dicen, a children’s clothing line specializing in T-shirts, would be hit both as a clothing designer and a parent.
“We all want regulations to make sure our children our safe, but this law goes too far,” Weir said.

Who are the geniuses who put together this law? Why not just junk it? And, while they’re at it, fire a few people who spent all day at a desk thinking up ways to make simple commerce in America not simple at all.
We’re from the government, and we’re here to help you.

14 Responses

It was the government’s job to regulate the manufacture of these items to begin with. These items don’t just appear most are imported from foreign countries, that do not regulate like this country is supposed to. Now burden the small business owner and consumer because the government didn’t do its job to begin with.

Kellie on January 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm

This has little to do with lead, etc. It has everything to do with cutting down on untaxed sales. Also not hard to imagine the number of lawsuits against the average ‘joe’ trying to make a buck.
It is way past time for non-violent, civil disobedience in this country.

VBurckard on January 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Killjoy. It is a wonderful old word. It is literally someone who ‘kills joy’. The humorless, the literal-minded, the ‘old maids in britches’, the killjoys and the busy bodies will join together to makeover the world in their image.

poetcomic1 on January 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Yessiree, a Hope’N’Change program of full-employment for government busybodies! Brilliant!!

John C on January 9, 2009 at 2:26 pm

The youngster and their Kool-Aid stands are next … test the amount of sugar, tax and fine the little darlings.
Jimmy Lewis
SCS, Michigan
Blog: http://rougerevival.blogspot.com/

Jimmy on January 9, 2009 at 2:44 pm

How did so many of us ever survive before all these ridiculous regulations and power grabbing nannymamas?? Two things about this stupidity: #1 Bring back our manufacturing to America. Let us make our own crap/treasures that will be safer and more worthy of donation to the Salvation Army some day ;o) #2 Buyer Beware — I just found out from a young mother that plastic items like nipples and teething rings, etc. are graded to help you know if it’s the toxic kind of plastic or not.

Sioux on January 9, 2009 at 2:54 pm

This reminds me of the rules they have been trying to pass making internet radio stations such as AOL, Live 365, etc. pay excessive royalties, the purpose of which is obviously to put them out of business, to benefit conventional broadcast radio which pays huge lobbying fees. Retail lobbyists are obviously behind these changes, since competition from garage sales etc. is hurting them. Anyting that gives consumers more choices and alternatives hurts the dinasour merchants, so their stooges in Congress jump to the lobbyists’ tune and prepare this legislation.

c f on January 9, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Information, sponsor/cosponsor and House and Senate voting records.

JohnF on January 9, 2009 at 6:59 pm

And this is still during the Bush administration? I just can’t wait for Obama.

Infidel Pride on January 9, 2009 at 11:05 pm

I believe that the prior writer meant “nipple rings” (Or is that another societal segment that I am thinking of? lol.) Also, typically, nipples are not made of plastic. On baby bottles, I mean. Nipple material is usually a latex blend so there is a good “mouth feel” I, for one, am happy to see this type of suffocating legislation. Kids don’t need toys, they need attention. You cannot buy off a sharp kid with a second-hand sale souvenir. I wish the gov would do more. Like sending out the county health department persons to inspect “bake sale” goods. Oh, yea, baby, that would really make people sit up and notice. How far we’ve slipped is evidenced by the fact that “nut warnings” are now mandatory and de rigueur on baked goods at some bake sales because a few people have nut allergies. For me, if it’s got a “nut warning”, I’m not buying. (And I have a nut allergy.) I like to live on the edge. So it is sort of a Russian Roulette at the cookie jar. Am I allowed to use that analogy? lol. At any rate, we clearly need more garage sale regulation, and less stock market regulation?

Roads Skolar on January 10, 2009 at 3:52 am


Holly on January 10, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Almost every church and synagogue in my area has a second-hand shop for clothes, bikes, toys and even kitchenware. All of these places support their houses of worship as well as charitable works such as soup kitchens, job training, school scholarships, etc. All of that would be endangered by this rule.

chsw on January 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm

What if we just say “No”? What if thousands of Americans simple refuse the new rules? Writing to your Congressman is all well and good, but think how much more effective that would be in the presence of massive non-compliance. People need to trust their liberty!

W.E. Chickering on January 12, 2009 at 12:33 pm

The day this country becomes like California, we’re doomed as a vibrant nation. But I see it coming.

Bill Hayden on January 13, 2009 at 10:36 am

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