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You do NOT want a small business exemption
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:59 pm    Post subject: You do NOT want a small business exemption Reply with quote

It's a nice idea, but it's short sighted and I'll tell you why:

First, any progress made with this law will be because of the large manufacturers who push hard for this. It will be precisely those you think should bear the entire burden for testing, who will be the most instrumental in congressional pressure for amendments. Therefore, when you ask for a small business exemption, you are asking them to fight for you to not have to play by the rules.

Secondly, it seems nice, but here's what is going to happen to you:

You will be buried. especially by businesses who are just over the threshold you advocate. Because you, being just under, will not have to test, and they being just over will. Therefore, their competitive advantage will be that they have tested their product to guarantee its safety and you have not.

You're talking about kids, babies even. Your good intentions won't be enough to sway lots of parents when you're up against certified products. Products that have been lab tested. So you're either going to have to live with the stigma of being risky, or test to compete, or blather on and on about getting your stuff from suppliers, but for the most part, you'll be using components that did not need to be tested because they were not intended for use in children's clothing (things like zippers). Certified components are unlikely to be widely available to the craft market, outside of those expressly covered under CSPIA. The industry will not bear the burden of the cost of testing goods just so you can have a business.

Lastly, it's asking to not have to play by the rules for no other reason than your business scale doesn't support it. Other industries with regulated products don't really get away with that, rules are rules and safety is safety.

What we need you to do is to look for a way that you can live within the rules. You are unlikely to get an exemption based on revenues because it opens up a Pandora's box of loopholes that circumvent the very safety issues this law aims to solve.

Everybody is going to try to get that standard to exclude them and the arguments will get little empathy. Congress does not want the death of a kid on their hands.

I get tired of people acting like it's only the big guys with their China imports that are the problem. NO, little guys are problems too. You just don't hit the news. It's not a big enough recall, or a big enough case to make the mainstream media. There isn't enough money to have a multi million dollar lawsuit. The CPSC gets complaints regarding the products from small businesses, micro businesses, too.

I echo Kathleen's sentiment that united we stand, divided we fall. Everybody needs to work together on a workable resolution without exemptions for your kind of business so you don't have to care. Nobody has clean hands here. The large businesses have problematic products, and the small businesses do to.

A small business exemption isn't going to help you in the long term because you will find it difficult to compete once tested products start bearing "safety tested" seals or whatever verbiage industry comes up with to differentiate their certified products from yours.

Once these manufacturers get a set of rules they can live with, better believe they will start promoting these tests and certifications to turn the expense into a selling advantage.
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Lisa DOWNTOWN JOEY
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miracle...well said. I couldn't agree more.

I think small manufacturers like myself better get with the program. Yes, I don't want to have to pay for testing, but if I'm going to compete in this market my line will be certified.

I don't want an exemption. I just want clear instructions on how and what needs to be done. Then I want afforable options for all. Because someday I want to be a big manufaturer.

It peeves me that the small manufacturers think they produce safe products. Really? I could pull up dozens of homemade items that wouldn't pass the test. Only when one becomes a larger manufacturer does one realize this.

Let's band together. Stop looking for loopholes. We're wasting time.
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course I agree. Splintering is stupid. Divisive parties using annoying large vs small rhetoric make everyone look like amateurs. The broader the exemptions, the better. Stop trying to save your own skin at the expense of everyone else. Heck, I don't even make kid's clothes! Neither does Miracle so if we can plug for everyone, those with a vested interest should have little trouble doing it too.
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amyruth
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So what do the work at home moms do? I sew from my dining room, one unique item at a time. I can't test each batch since each item I make is a "batch". Most of my orders are custom made for people. I stock very little premade inventory.

I am intending to close down shop and take losses on all of my inventory come 2/9. I'm very sad and frustrated over this legislation.

I make fleece (100% poly) and wool interlock soakers, shorts and pants to use as diaper covers. No buttons, zippers, etc. It's all fleece. I also knit pants and shorts with 100% wool yarn. I certainly can't send each of those items away to be destroyed. Here is what I make: www.sweetie-bug.com

Even if we go to component testing hand dyed wool yarn will have to be tested on an individual basis. I have hundreds of yards of fleece that will go to waste.
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

amyruth wrote:
So what do the work at home moms do? I sew from my dining room, one unique item at a time. I can't test each batch since each item I make is a "batch". Most of my orders are custom made for people. I stock very little premade inventory.

I'm so sorry Amy Ruth, believe me, we're all dismayed and depressed. If we can get a broad exemption, say to permit the use of vendor supplied certifications for fabrics such as we can for flammability etc, this could cover you.
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amyruth
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luckily the fabrics that I use are exempt from flammability... I have so many cuts of fabric that I won't be able to use up by 2/9. I just don't have the manpower to do that or the sales for it. I can go back and get bolt info on some of them but the others will be useless.

The only testing I am subject to is the overall lead and I'd be happy to have samples tested with an XRF gun and use manufacturer certs going forward. Or buy more yardage and have less selection available. But the tagging issue will be interesting too. How is everyone tagging their items with batch #, etc?

I just can't fathom doing the tagging and certifications and still having this be a financially worthwhile thing for me to do, along with thousands of others like me. Sad
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elizabeth Scagel wrote:
I understand what Miracle is saying and I agree we should be unified but I absolutely understand the frustration of being the little guy and wanting an exemption. To all of the Moms that sew from home anyone who manufactures more than two or three of the same item can seem like a "big" manufacturer. The point is these little guys will have no business with this law. It's not about us getting away with something you can't...



Then what can you live with? Post to that thread.
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blizzard77
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it's a matter of revenue or income.

I think it is a matter of OOAK or semi-OOAK vs. repetetive production of the same product.

For those who have the business scale to make more than five or 100 of one item the costs of testing (yes, even unit testing) would be spread out between these five or 100 (or 2,000) items--and you would probably be able to pass the cost onto the consumer.

For those like many who handcraft, do custom work or have a small-scale biz model similar to the art world, the costs for testing one or two items (or the item's components) do not get spread out at all. They could not pass the cost on to the consumer since the consumer simply would not/could not be able to pay it.

The risk of the components' contents used in the product is the same. The risk of the number of units distributed, however, is higher for the larger manufacturer. Treating vastly different production run sizes in the same manner is also is no more fair than asking for exemptions simply based on income.
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But here's what you have to understand:

When a law is enacted to improve safety for children, it has to be absolute. That would be like saying if you drive a safe car, then car seats are not mandatory. Safety laws usually don't work on the basis of exemptions.

The reason I posted this thread is because it is highly unlikely to get an exemption for small businesses. If ONE child gets harmed under an exemption, the legislature would be blamed for that amendment.

While I understand the plight, I don't think it's a reasonable request, therefore we must look for ways to work within the confines of a law that applies to all.

Also, there is this huge misconception that only large companies have problematic products (because that is what hits the news) and that just is not true.

So we have to come up with a solution that works FOR you, because getting exemption is unlikely, and US fighting for it makes it seem like we don't think that we should comply.
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Alison Cummins
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:48 pm    Post subject: "good person" argument Reply with quote

The idea is that you, your customer and the court system need to have a shared way of understanding whether your products meet safety standards.

A small business might say "well, my stuff is safe" ... but how do you know that? Is it because you know you are a good person and would not knowingly sell a dangerous product, therefore anything you sell must intuitively meet federal standards? I don't feel like it's dangerous" is not going to stand up in court when someone asks how many ppm of lead is in a particular article.

Maybe you know it's safe because you have a solid understanding of chemistry, a complete understanding of the provenance of all your components, and you know that there cannot be any significant amount of lead or phthalates in any of the components or at any of the handling or manufacturing sites. Then you need to think of how you can communicate that knowledge in a measurable, accountable way, to your consumers and to the courts.

Maybe you know it's safe because all your suppliers have regular third-party testing done on everything they supply you; ditto for each site that your components go to or through. Now you have lab results to communicate. These are measurable and accountable.

"Just knowing" that something feels comfortable is not enough to legally protect anyone. I know that my parents consider the fuss that young people make about drinking and driving to be completely overblown and unreasonable and shouldn't apply to them. Just because they've always done it doesn't make them right. And we all know mothers who say "Pish! I wouldn't do anything to hurt my baby" when warned against drinking while pregnant. (Well, maybe not "Pish!") Because they know they are good people, and good people don't hurt their babies, and they drink a glass of wine with their meals, therefore wine can't be something that can hurt the baby. A circular, backwards argument.

CPSIA has gone for the gold standard: independent third-party testing of the particular article, or as close to it as possible. While that will get the most accurate answer to the question of whether this article meets or does not meet safety standards, it may not be the best way for everyone to communicate the safety of the articles they sell.

Can someone who makes small runs communicate the safety and conformity of their products in a meaningful way? (How do they know they are safe? How can they share that knowledge?)

If they can, what does that mean? What does it look like?

If they can't, how can we as a society handle that?

Answers to these questions go in this thread, but "being a good person" can't be one of them.
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blizzard77
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the easy answer is that if the law is going to require this for everyone, then they need to make it affordable for everyone, big AND small. (Because goodness knows leaving lab prices up to the labs is going to kill the large companies!)

And the 'gold standard' is too extreme. (Which we all agree on, I'm sure!)

I know that if I put a "not tested for lead" label on my products my customers would still buy them. I do wish we had that option--to allow the consumer to determine what the market will bear.

If you want to grow, you must pay the price for growth--that's the way it's always been in the US. Some of us don't want to grow--at the moment. Someday we might decide to pay the piper, take out loans, streamline, finance, outsource and insure. I know what growth entails and I am not prepared to go there for at least five years. Right now I actually LIMIT my business for that reason.

Is that so wrong? I prefer to think of it as a better business model than jumping in and risking everything without knowing enough or having the resources to fully commit. Perhaps on f-i it *is* considered wrong but that is not why I joined this forum.
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Again, I think we're talking about a group of sellers who don't try (or hope) to compete with these companies anyway. They offer products that are unique and one of a kind. Their buyers tend to be those whose desire for a hand made object is great enough that they will forgo the trip to Target and take the time to go the the craft fair and surf through Etsy to find it.


This is based on the thinking that there are only large retailers and handcrafters, when in reality there are many shades of gray in between. Kathleen wrote in one thread, that a huge difference is not scale, but professionalism.

I'm not talking about your ability to compete with Target, I'm talking about your ability to compete with another WAHM who has decided to make a professional venture of her handcrafted business and because of her revenue, is required to test.

Quote:
Why do the small crafters have to ask the large manufacturers for the exemption? They're fighting for their own purposes, and so should we.


I'm not saying that you have to ask permission. The larger companies are at the forefront of fighting for this law. They have the money to lobby, the money to fly to hearings, the ability to exert pressure on their representatives in Congress, etc.. These revisions are being considered because of the pressure that larger companies can exert through their collective pressure and associations. If this solely affected the craft market, you would not hear a peep in reconsideration.

I say that to point out that you, the crafter, are a beneficiary of their efforts. Best to not try and throw them under the bus to save your own skin. They are going to the hearings, making compelling arguments.


Last edited by Miracle on Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:20 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Alison Cummins
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

blizzard77,

On another thread you listed several things that you wanted to see in the CPSIA legislation that would enable you to demonstrate that you comply with safety standards.

Now you are saying that you do not wish to comply with safety standards, and that your customers seek you out because you do not comply?
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Pamela
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main question is how are you, a small crafter, different from a large manufacturer if a small child gets sick from a lead item you sell? How would the government handle this? It's ok for the small crafter to make the handmade jewelry that has lead beads but not the large companies? All it takes is one kid to eat something and get sick or die, which is exactly what happened that caused all this.

Pam
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Miracle
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I understand completely. The only point that I was trying to make is that we cannot depend on larger business entities to fight our battles, because, as you said, they have their own agendas (which are just as legitimate to the running of their business as my agenda is to mine).


I understand. But I also believe that asking for an exemption isn't even a good faith effort at solving the problem. It's just basically saying "I'm small, this shouldn't apply to me." I believe it's more conducive to find something that does work for you.
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