Thursday, September 17, 2009

An HTA Pop Quiz

See if you can identify either of these two tiny companies, both of whom make children's products:

Three friends launch their company out of a garage in Southern California. Their first products are picture frames, but they developed a side business in dollhouse furniture made from picture frame scraps...


Three partners in New York make toys out of heavy steel parts and ponderosa pine, which resists splintering and held up well to heavy use. The details and charm are added with colorful labels based on characters from one of the partner's children's books. They took 16 of their wooden toys to the American International Toy Fair in New York City and they quickly become a success...

Wait--don't bother searching through our list of over 300 business members, even though these descriptions might describe many of our member businesses who make their children's products in their garages or basement.

Actually, the first paragraph describes Mattel when it began in 1945.

The second paragraph describes the early years of Fisher-Price (now wholly owned by Mattel) in the 1930s.

What would have happened to Mattel or Fisher-Price if the CPSIA had been in effect during their early years? Certainly the early Mattel might have redoubled their focus on unregulated picture frames rather than invest in testing their tiny batches of dollhouse furniture. And Fisher-Price would likely have reconsidered their business plans if they knew that every buyer at Toy Fair would need to see their certificate of compliance.

This is one of the most compelling reasons to nurture and support American small businesses. We are the future of the American economy. Small businesses bring innovation and an opportunity for growth that big business can't match. And, although Mattel and Fisher Price lost their moral compass in the many decades since their humble beginnings, their failures had been providing opportunities for small manufacturers as parents sought out toys made with integrity. But the CPSIA took all that away and left Mattel smelling like roses.

If anything, Congress needs to learn the lesson that harming small business without cause is like throwing away the future.

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