the state

– of toxic toys? by vastate
Friday, 27 February 2009, 15:14
Filed under: -of deals, -of harrisonburg, -of health, -of jhumphrey, -of kiddos

i was at gift & thrift yesterday, following up on a lead that this precious little consignment store was no longer selling used toys.

not any more...

not any more...

has anyone heard about this really big, little issue?  no?  here’s the gist (from the la times):

Barring a reprieve, regulations set to take effect next month could force thousands of clothing retailers and thrift stores to throw away trunkloads of children’s clothing.

The law, aimed at keeping lead-filled merchandise away from children, mandates that all products sold for those age 12 and younger — including clothing — be tested for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable. Those that haven’t been tested will be considered hazardous, regardless of whether they actually contain lead.

i am particularly interested after a long discussion a few weeks ago with the owners of the flying squirrel – a locally-owned kid’s consignment store in brooklyn.  they were discussing (lamenting) which WAHM (work-at-home-mom) & used items they would potentially have to ditch from their sales rack in response to this new mandate.  i also wonder what my old friends at bootyland in seattle are thinking and doing regarding this issue…

flyingsquirrel +   bootyland

have you ever bought an adorable screenprinted onesie?


paypal-ed your way to an amazing handknitted toddler cap?


scored a sweet vintage fisher price winnebago for $5?


the days of being able to outfit and entertain your little ones via local and recycled sources might soon be over.

goodbye etsy.  so long kwik, polar babies, green mountain organics, soft star shoes, the pajama squid, cheeky baby shirts, handknit cashmere caps, tiny vintage cowboy boots.

etsybagconductorbamboo-cloth-diapers-detsoftstarshoes +  babykimono+  monsterdoll011+    woodenguitarcabbage + psalms-coat

these small retailers can’t dish out for lead testing.

hello target and walmart.  hello plastic and poly-blend.

walmart +   Retail Sales +   plastictoyasst111103

i’m honestly disappointed in gift & thrift.  why not fight back?  put up a big sign that states clearly that they don’t test for lead in all of their toys because they are a thrift store, and ask customers to sign a waiver when purchasing toys?  it gets the word out, covers their ass, and all are happy.  when they fold and succumb immediately, all it does is pave the way for such legislation to better the already-thriving retail world of target and walmart.


gift & thrift, post this sign. but keep selling toys.

didn’t you sign a waiver when you bought your old house, stating that you understood that your kid could possibly eat the paint off the windowsill and die of lead poisoning and you were okay with this possibility?  what’s the difference?  expect that the people who loose in this situation are the little people.  the small businesses, the old grandpas carving wooden pull-toys, the stay-at-home-mom with a sewing machine.  poor people also loose.  who buys used toys?  poor people.  who’s kids will being going without?  poor people.

i don’t see the government this worked up about vaccines and environmental toxins as preservatives. nobody is too worried  that my kid might have been injected with trace amounts of heavy metals last time he got a shot.  i don’t see tuna fish being taken off the shelves in a fish exodus in the name of consumer safety.  all the grocery stores have to do is post a little sticky note below the stacks of cans saying that preggos and kids shouldn’t eat a lot of the mercury-laden stuff.  we all play the game of risks/benefits every day – especially when it comes to our kids.  the world is a fucking deathtrap if you really want to think about it that way.

tunacan +   vaccine23lead_paint

i feel a bit terrified that i’m presenting a strong libertarian, anti-regulation stance on this issue.  but my point is that the government cares way more about walmart, merck, & the housing market than they do about my kid.

so lay off.

lay off of my kid’s toys.  and my friend who sews handmade nap mats (hi amanda!).

transparency and accountability are the keys to regulation.  and what better way to be held accountable than to be selling your wares locally to your best friends?  (joel salatin, of local polyface farm fame, has an amazing argument against government regulation of meat products that is incredibly applicable to this situation.  read his book, everything i want to do is illegal.)


wanna do something about it?  good.

1.) go talk to the gift & thrift folks.  make suggestions (see above), don’t just complain.  are other local consignment stores sending their toys to the landfill?  check it out and go talk to them as well.  (and then send us an email and let us know what you know.)


2.) you can also do the whole “write to congress” thing – which has been successful in staving off the deadline for one year.  as of today, there are 347 more days to comply with these regulations before being penalized.  a lot of work is being done by groups representing businesses at risk – such as the handmade toys alliance – to put a stop to the insanity in 346 more days. go to their site for more ideas.



2 Comments so far
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I tried to drop off some old toys at Gift and Thrift last week, and they had a sign outside the dropoff door saying they don’t take toys anymore. Some guy came out and told me I couldn’t leave them there. So I dropped them off at a dumpster down the road instead. So sad.

Comment by Greg

[…] harrisonburg (over on 33) still carries a weird, broken crappy assortment of plastic toys – so you can take your old toys there instead of gift & thrift.  the quality is far below that which used to be carried at gift & thrift, but i guess […]

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