Sunday, January 2, 2011

HTA Letter to the CPSC about Extending the CPSIA Stay of Enforcement

January 3, 2011

Office of the Secretary
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Room 502
4330 East-West Highway,
Bethesda, Maryland, 20814

RE: CPSC Lifting of Stay of Enforcement under Section 102 of the CPSIA

Dear Honorable Commissioners:

As the Commission prepares for the lifting of the stay of enforcement for the CPSIA in just five short weeks, we would like to share our members’ concerns regarding this action and how it affects their abilities to produce children’s products in small batches.

A toy by Selecta Spielzeug of Germany,
now celebrating 2 years of extinction under the CPSIA.
Courtesy of HTA member

We appreciate the opportunities the Commission has granted us to share our concerns regarding the CPSIA. Our fundamental belief continues to be that the CPSIA focuses resources on processes rather than safety and needlessly hampers the Commission's ability to make product safety determinations based on risk.

While the Commission has been able to address some of our concerns, there continue to be a number of issues that require resolution prior to our members being able to effectively implement testing protocols under the CPSIA. Our greatest concern remains the cost of third-party testing, which disproportionately affects small-batch manufacturers. We have testified in congressional hearings in both the House and the Senate that lifting the stay now will unnecessarily doom hundreds of small family businesses.

In the last month, Congress has shown it's determination to amend the CPSIA. At the December 2, 2010 Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing, both Chair Tenenbaum and Commissioner Northup testified about ways Congress could add flexibility to the CPSIA. The Senate also heard from industry stakeholders, including the HTA, who shared concerns with the legislation and urged for common sense amendment to rectify the many unintended consequences.

We strongly believe that a properly crafted amendment can and will protect small businesses, maintain a vibrant selection of children's products in the marketplace, reduce compliance costs, create a more effective CPSC, and promote common sense without sacrificing safety. But, until this legislative amendment is completed, lifting the stay would create chaos for our member’s businesses.

Furthermore, the component part testing rule has yet to be finalized and manufacturers are still working to understand the draft rules. While we have been advising our members that this ruling will be forthcoming and doing our best to share what their responsibilities will be, we have yet to receive clear, concise guidance. Without this formal ruling, we continue to have difficulty explaining to our component part suppliers the necessity for their testing information.

To that point, many of our member’s suppliers are refusing to test altogether, or refusing to supply their certifications to our members. In addition, for those members who purchase supplies direct from fabric and craft shops, such as JoAnn Fabrics or Michael’s, supplier certifications are not readily made available. Finalized rulings are necessary to push compliance upstream and help our members prove their testing protocol under the CPSIA.

Finally, while we appreciate the work of Neal Cohen, the CPSC's new small business ombudsperson, he has had only a few short months to initiate his outreach and education efforts. We would very much like to see these efforts more firmly in place before the stay is lifted.

For these reasons, we urge the Commission to further extend the stay of enforcement under Section 102 of the CPSIA.

On behalf of our 609 member small businesses, we appreciate your willingness to consider our concerns. We hope to preserve the long American tradition of hand-crafted children's goods while ensuring safety for the children who enjoy them.


The Handmade Toy Alliance

A listing of all 609 business members of the Handmade Toy Alliance is available at

Board members:
Cecilia Leibovitz, Craftsbury Kids, VT
Dan Marshall, Peapods Natural Toys, MN
Jill Chuckas, Crafty Baby, CT
Mary Newell, Terrapin Toys, OR
Jolie Fay, Skipping Hippos, OR
Marianne Mullen, Polka Dot Patch, VT
Rob Wilson, Challenge & Fun, MA
Randall Hertzler, euroSource, PA
Kate Glynn, A Child's Garden, MA

cc: Neal Cohen, Small Business Ombudsman, CPSC


  1. you didn't say why the german toy blocks were banned or got extinct under the CPSC ruling. they looked pretty harmless to me. then again ELMO looked adorable too.

    Thanks for this insightful post though.

    Best Online Toys for Kids and the Kid in You.

  2. Selecta, a German toymaker, exited the US market at the end of 2008 because, although their toys had already been tested to EU standards, they couldn't afford to re-test them to the new US standards.

  3. Interesting to see what gets thrown out of a market and for what reasons. I am truly a fan of artisan crafted wooden toys, I think they are true treasure. I recently purchased some wooden blocks from Sydney, Australia, from a small business called Forever Blocks, but I wonder if it would have been possible in the United States.

  4. The US has a lot of stringent laws about selling most consumer goods. If this wasn't the case, the US would be highly saturated with Chinese look alikes. In most cases I think it is good but in certain cases they make it really hard for businesses to start up with the high product certification costs.

    When it comes to goods that come in contact with children such as toys, I don't think parents would risk anything - so standards do play a vital role.