CPSC reassures, but some consignment shops still worried - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

CPSC reassures, but some consignment shops still worried

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

January 12, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Thrift and consignment shop owners are in a fit over new federal regulations that go into effect next month. Many originally thought they would have to do expensive testing for lead on children's products they sell.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission later said those stores are exempt from the testing. But one Albany business owner still says the law is flawed and he'll have to change the way he does business.

Shopper Jamela Thomas is a big fan of consignment shops. The racks give her plenty to look through. "Actually I do it quite often," said Thomas.

As she shops, she has to be careful not to bring home more than a good deal. As a parent she's concerned about lead. "I am very concerned and I think that's an issue every parent should be concerned about," said Thomas.

Because of those concerns, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act last year to go in effect this year. After numerous recalls, the goal is to protect children from unsafe items. "As the law currently stands, no children's product for a child under the age 12, and that includes clothing, cribs, mattresses, anything meant for a child under the age of 12 can't be sold unless it has been tested and certified," said Robert Keeffe.

Then And Now Consignment Shop owner Robert Keeffe says the law has good intentions but it's flawed. "It's just an unrealistic law," said Keeffe.

Only domestic manufacturers and importers have to certify that products they sell don't contain more than a certain amount of lead. Resellers like Then And Now are exempt from the expensive testing but at the same time, the law states they cannot sell products that exceed the lead limit.

"The penalty for selling an item is up to five years in jail and $100,000. I'm not going to take that chance," said Keeffe.

Keeffe has made a decision. "I will discontinue selling children's clothes on February 10th," said Keeffe.

He says although he doesn't have to test the clothing there's no way to tell if it contains lead. Now, he'll lose 25-percent of his business. "The threat to me to keep selling is too real to continue selling them," said Keeffe.

Thomas will now have less to look for at one of her favorite stores. "From a parent perspective, I think it would be a great idea in order to catch it if it is, but on a business perspective, it may affect his business but sometimes you have to take that loss if it's concerning kids," said Thomas.

Keeffe is now writing lawmakers to make changes before February 10th. "Until they make them, we can't be sure," said Keeffe.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says though resellers don't have to test items, they need to be cautious of what they sell. They recommend stores avoid selling things like children's jewelry and wooden painted toys.

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