Consignment Shops Leery Of New Federal Act


Friday, January 9th 2009, 3:48 pm
By: News On 6


By Craig Day, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - There is a consumer controversy.  New federal guidelines are expected to make children's toys and clothing safer.  But, there is concern about an unintended consequence that some worry could impact just about everyone who has been to a resale business, consignment store or thrift store.  Some wonder will those stores go out of business when the new law goes into effect.

Kaye Hatley has spent 12 years in the consignment business.  Her store at 61st and Mingo offers a huge assortment at low prices.

"People depend on it.  They can't afford new clothes," said Kaye Hatley.

Hatley and many other resellers of children's clothing are concerned about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which goes into effect on February 10th.

"The politicians, they said sign this it will protect the children.  And, of course, they all sign it, and they don't think about the repercussions of what it's going to cause," said Kaye Hatley.

The new mandate requires the certification of newly manufactured children's clothing and toys as lead free, and prevents selling any that aren't.  So why are consignors worried?

Consignment store owner Ronda Vuillemont-Smith is the president of the Tulsa Area Resale Merchants Association.  She says many are concerned the new mandate would require re-sale stores and thrifts to test items on their racks.

"It needs to be at the manufacturer's level.  The lead testing, so that it can be tested on a broader scale.  It's not economically feasible for us to be able to test every individual item," said Ronda Vuillemont-Smith with the Tulsa Area Resale Merchants Association.

After complaints, regulators decided secondhand stores are not required to certify that products on their shelves meet the new lead limits.

While resellers say the new ruling exempting them from the new testing mandates is a step in the right direction, it still doesn't give them peace of mind.  That's because shops could still face penalties if they sell an item that contains lead.

Store owners say the new safety guidelines are at the very least, confusing.

"I think their intentions were good, but I think they didn't foresee what the repercussions would be a little further down the line and how it would affect the mom and pop businesses," said Ronda Vuillemont-Smith with the Tulsa Area Resale Merchants Association.

Store owners hope anyone who shops at a resale shop, or thrift store should let their opinion be heard.  They have a sample letter to send to Congressional leaders on their webpage.

Related Story:

12/26/2008  Safety Act Has Unintended Impact On Tulsa Business