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Please save micro-businesses like Violet’s Peapod from the CPSIA!

May 20, 2009 by Dawn  
Filed under BLOG, Featured Articles

I am a San Francisco Bay Area Designer who specializes in 100% natural, locally-made, completely adorable peapod-shaped baby sleep sacks.  I came up with my business idea while pregnant with my precious daughter, Violet, which is why I named the business after her.  Working from home doing what I love, while raising my two kids has given me the fulfillment I always wanted in life.  I truly want to keep that dream alive, but the CPSIA threatens the livelihood of thousands of micro-businesses like myself.

In August of 2008, former President Bush signed into law the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). It was created as a toy safety law in response mostly in response to the numerous recalls in the year 2007 for lead in children’s jewelry and toys.  Although this law was probably well-meaning, its reach is very, very broad and there are largely unforeseen consequences attached to it.

Many San Francisco children’s designers like me decided to band together and fight this law, making calls, writing letters, and e-mailing State Representatives, Congress people, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  We have been fueled by our passion to hold onto our dreams, and we voiced our opinions to save small business like us from this unfair law.  Many, many other groups across the nation formed their own calling/letter writing campaigns and it was refreshing to know that our collective voices were finally heard…at least temporarily.

On January 30th, 2009, the CPSC approved a stay of certain certification and testing requirements under the CPSIA.  This was good news, as this allowed us some breathing room.  I was lucky to find a resource to XRF laser scan my baby sleep sacks, which is considered a reasonable way to self-test and prove that products are in compliance with the CPSIA law.  My sleepsacks passed with the tests with flying colors, and having my General Conformity Certificates has offered assurance to stores who have decided to carry my goods.  But once the stay is removed In February of 2010, 3rd party testing will be required and my XRF test results won’t be good enough proof of compliance.

If I were to have each batch of my current inventory tested by CPSC-approved third party, I would have to pay $57 per print and batch for 3rd party lead testing, and $278 per print & batch for phthalates, totaling $4,690 altogether.  If I were to increase my price point based on cost increases to cover this 3rd party testing, I’d have to raise my price point by $19.14 each.  My precious baby sleepsacks are barely selling at $53.95, so charging $73.09 each in these tough economic times would surely put me out of business.

My only other alternative would be to liquidate my inventory completely, selling it for half it’s worth (and losing $13, 218 in the process).  Once I’d get the cash flow from that, I’d be able to start up a single batch of sleepsacks (ONE PRINT).  I’d then have it 3rd party tested for lead and phthalates, and increase the price point to $57.95.  With an increased price point and only one style/print in my line, I could hardly remain competitive in the marketplace!

If the law doesn’t change by February 2010, I may sadly have to close my doors forever.  I started my business with my life savings and a dream, and I would hate to have to give those up.

Please hear the voices of local small businesses and help keep entrepreneurial spirit alive!  Amend the CPSIA!

Lennore Merz, Owner & Founder
Violet’s Peapod
712 Bancroft Road #267
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Tel:  925.297.7952

Blowback on Lead Limits

May 15, 2009 by Dawn  
Filed under Featured Articles, In the News

Industries say that new rules to protect children’s products go too far. Are babies really likely to eat bicycles?

Click here to read entire article by Lobbying & Law.


Toy testing rules ‘overwhelming’ to small businesses

May 14, 2009 by Dawn  
Filed under Featured Articles, In the News

The MetroWest Daily News
Posted May 14, 2009 @ 10:00 AM

Toy importer Rob Wilson’s company sometimes sells wooden children’s puzzles, but he hasn’t ordered one since last November.

Wilson, vice president of Challenge and Fun in Ashland, said new federal rules that require testing of children’s products could force him to spend more than he can afford to check for lead in paint used on the games.

Along with other small toy manufacturers, shop owners and distributors, Wilson has been calling for changes to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act since Congress passed it last year.  Click here to read more…

Tracking Label Enforcement



* * News from The Alliance for Children’s Product Safety * * *


May 14, 2009

Contact: Ashley Hutto, (202) 828-7637,

The Commissioners of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) split their vote today on a request by the National Association of Manufacturers for an emergency stay of enforcement of the tracking label requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This marked the first time that there was not a unanimous vote by the Commissioners on a CPSIA-related matter. The tie vote means that no stay will be granted and the tracking label requirement will go into effect as scheduled in August 2009. Acting Chair Nancy Nord voted to grant the stay request and Commissioner Thomas Moore voted to deny it.

Rick Woldenberg, Chairman of the Alliance for Children’s Product Safety, issued the following statement in response to the vote:

“We are deeply disappointed in Commissioner’s Moore vote to deny the petition. His vote will result in more chaos for manufacturers and retailers from this law particularly for small businesses  who are already reeling from a difficult recession. The leaders of Congress should take note that Acting Chair Nord, in voting to approve the petition, showed the flexibility and leadership that had been urged in letters by Senator Mark Pryor (Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs) and other Members of Congress. It is time for these same Members of Congress to urge Commissioner Moore to do the same.

Because of a deluge of conflicting priorities caused by the CPSIA, the CPSC has yet to issue rules for implementing the label requirement that will take effect in three months, leaving little time for manufacturers to prepare. Even when the new rules are released, tracking labels will create practical problems for small businesses. Processing labels is expensive and adds significantly to the complexity of small production runs. In addition, some products have more than one source or are assembled from components made at different times. Small businesses are throwing up their hands over this new burden.

It is time for Congress to fix this law, which has caused massive economic damage because of its overly broad definition of children’s products, its unrealistic deadlines and its retroactive bans on the sale of existing inventory.”

The Alliance for Children’s Product Safety is a coalition of small business owners, manufacturers, crafters and entrepreneurs who are impacted by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. To view the Alliance’s Capitol Hill rally that took place April 1, 2009, visit For more information, please contact Ashley Hutto at (202) 828-7637.

President Obama Fills New CPSC Posts

May 5, 2009 by Dawn  
Filed under Featured Articles, In the News

Announces expansion of CPSC leadership;
Agency will receive 71 percent more funding than in FY2007

WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Inez Moore Tenenbaum as Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Robert S. Adler as a new Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Furthermore, in the President’s budget, the CPSC receives $107 million, a 71 percent increase in resources since FY 2007. This is almost three quarters of the way to meeting the President’s goal of doubling CPSC’s funding.

President Obama believes strongly in the mission of the Consumer Product Safety Commission: to protect the public, especially children, from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from consumer products, including children’s products such as toys and strollers. For over fifteen years, CPSC has operated with only three Commissioners. To revitalize the agency, President Obama is going to expand the Commission later this summer, to include five Commissioners at CPSC. If confirmed, Robert Adler would fill one of these new posts. The addition of extra Commissioners is tangible evidence of President Obama’s commitment to restoring the health of the agency, and will ensure opportunity for additional viewpoints to be expressed at the top of the agency.

President Obama said, “It is a top priority of my administration to ensure that the products the American people depend on are safe. We must do more to protect the American public – especially our nation’s children – from being harmed by unsafe products. I am confident that Inez and Bob have the commitment and expertise necessary to fill these roles and raise the standard of safety. To ensure these goals are met, I will also increase the number of Commissioners at the CPSC. I am confident this new leadership at the CPSC will revitalize the agency and achieve the high standard of product safety that the American people deserve.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:

Inez Moore Tenenbaum, Nominee for Chair, Consumer Product Safety Commission

Inez Moore Tenenbaum was elected South Carolina’s State Superintendent of Education in 1998 and completed her second term in 2007. Throughout her career, Tenenbaum has been an energetic and determined advocate for children and families and has extensive experience in administrative and regulatory matters. During her tenure as South Carolina’s State Superintendent of Education, student achievement in South Carolina improved at the fastest rate in the nation, with scores increasing on every state, national, and international tests administered. At the end of Tenenbaum’s tenure, the prestigious journal Education Week ranked South Carolina number one in the country for the quality of its academic standards, assessment, and accountability systems. Tenenbaum also ran as the Democratic candidate for retiring Democrat Fritz Hollings’ seat in the U.S. Senate in 2004. She previously practiced health, environmental, and public interest law with the firm Sinkler & Boyd. Before attending law school, Tenenbaum served as the director of research for the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee of the South Carolina House of Representatives. She carried out the Committee’s responsibilities for all legislation relating to public health, the environment, child welfare, social services, adult and juvenile corrections, state military affairs, and local government. Tenenbaum has also served on numerous task forces that provide oversight on children and family services in the state. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from the University of Georgia and her law degree from the University of South Carolina. Tenenbaum is the recipient of several honorary degrees and has been recognized by numerous state and community organizations for her civic work on behalf of children and families. She currently serves as special counsel to the McNair Law Firm in the area of public school finance.

Robert S. Adler, Nominee for Commissioner, Consumer Product Safety Commission

Robert S. Adler has a breadth of experience in consumer product safety issues and an extensive knowledge of the CPSC. He is currently a Professor of Legal Studies at the University of North Carolina and the Luther H. Hodges, Jr. Scholar in Law & Ethics at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. He has served as the Associate Dean of the MBA Program and as Associate Dean for the School’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Program. A recipient of teaching awards both within the business school and university-wide, Adler’s research and teaching focus on consumer protection, product liability, ethics, regulation and negotiation. Before joining the UNC faculty, Adler served as Counsel on the Committee on Energy and Commerce where he advised on CPSC legislative and oversight issues under the leadership of Henry Waxman. Prior to that, he spent eleven years (from 1973-1984) as an attorney-advisor to two commissioners at the CPSC in Washington, D.C. One of the commissioners for whom he worked was David Pittle, an original appointee at the inception of the CPSC. Before joining the CPSC, Adler served as a Deputy Attorney General for the Pennsylvania Justice Department, where he headed the southwest regional office of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection. Adler has been elected six times to the board of directors of Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. He also served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team and co-authored the agency review report on the CPSC. Adler graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received his J.D. from the University of Michigan.