The Handmade Toy Alliance Meets with top CPSC officials and Responds to NY Times reporting

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After a full year of efforts trying to save their small businesses from the mandates of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) met two important milestones yesterday.

Stamford, CT, November 03, 2009 (PressReleasePoint)-- After a full year of efforts trying to save their small businesses from the mandates of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) met two important milestones yesterday.

First, assisted by Senator Merkley (OR), the HTA met via video conference with CPSC commissioners Inez Tenenbaum and Robert Adler, an aide to Senator Dodd (CT), and a team of about a dozen CPSC staffers to discuss policy actions to protect small batch children's product manufacturers.

Second, the New York Times reported for the first time on the CPSIA's impact on small businesses. The report focused on the HTA's efforts to convince congress to amend the CPSIA.

“It was a very busy day,” said HTA secretary Jill Chuckas, owner of Crafty Baby (CT). “In the morning we got the chance to tell the CPSC what we need. And then in the evening I found myself quoted in the New York Times.”

During the morning CPSC meeting, Commissioner Adler expressed a desire to protect small manufacturers as much as possible within the constrains of the CPSIA. Speaking about the difficulty small business have affording the testing required by the law, he said “You're the folks who keep us awake at night.” He also reiterated that “The CPSC did not write this law.”

The meeting centered on nine requests the HTA submitted to the CPSC, the most important of which would stay enforcement of testing requirements for another year so that the CPSC can finalize rule-making on a host of important issues. “Our goal is not to create loopholes in the law for unsafe products,” said Dan Marshall of Peapods Natural Toys (MN) “We just want to save our small businesses.” The full text of the HTA's requests to the CPSC can be found at http://handmadetoyalliance.blogspot.com/2009/10/handmade-toy-alliance-requests-cpsc.html .

In the Times article, titled “Burden of Safety Law Imperils Small Toymakers”, Nancy Cowles of the consumer group Kids in Danger was quoted as opposing the HTA's efforts to reform the CPSIA, claiming that big industry players “are not above using the small crafters to reopen the legislation and get the changes they want.”

“This is the absurd logic that we've been hearing for a long time,” said HTA board member Rob Wilson of Challenge & Fun (MA). “We are not agents for big companies. We have been highly critical of Mattel and other multinationals for their role in shaping the CPSIA in their favor. What Cowles is basically saying is that handcrafters and small batch manufacturers are closing their businesses as a favor to Mattel.”

“If Kids in Danger and other consumer groups would just respond to our repeated requests for dialog, I'm sure we could reach an understanding that serves both our interests,” said Marshall. “If they could have listened to our morning meeting with the CPSC, they would understand our desire to fix this law without compromising safety. Unfortunately, they seem more interested in protecting the status quo.”

The HTA's next steps are to include more meetings with the CPSC, which will hopefully lead to policy actions and the clarification of a number of issues. The HTA is also offering to help the CPSC reach out to small batch manufacturers.
“Even though we feel very encouraged by the CPSC's willingness to work with us, we need to keep in mind that their hands are tied on many issues,” said Wilson. “We need Congress to pass a technical amendment to the CPSIA, and we need Senator Pryor to begin that process with an open hearing in his Senate commerce committee.”

The Handmade Toy Alliance is a grassroots alliance of 395 retail stores, toymakers and children's product manufacturers from across the country who want to preserve consumer access to unique handmade toys, clothes and all manner of small batch children's goods in the USA. Formed in November of 2008 in response to the CPSIA, HTA members are parents, grandparents and consumers who are passionate about their businesses as well as the safety of the children in their lives. While in support of the spirit of the law, the unintended consequences of the CPSIA have motivated members of the HTA to work to enact change at a federal level. More information at www.handmadetoyalliance.org.

Dan Marshall, co-owner
Peapods Natural Toys & Baby Care (St. Paul, MN)
The Handmade Toy Alliance
Tel. 651-238-8398
dan@peapods.com
handmadetoyalliance.org

Jill Chuckas, Owner, Designer
Crafty Baby (Stamford, CT)
The Handmade Toy Alliance
Tel. 888-788-5168
jill@craftybaby.com handmadetoyalliance.org

Cecilia Leibovitz, President
Craftsbury Kids (Montpelier,VT)
The Handmade Toy Alliance
Tel. 802-223-7143
ceci@craftsburykids.com
handmadetoyalliance.org

Rob Wilson, Vice President,
Challenge & Fun (Ashland, MA)
The Handmade Toy Alliance
Tel. 888-384-6200
hta@challengeandfun.com
handmadetoyalliance.org
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