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China Competition CPSIA Manufacturing Politics Regulation Retail Small Business

CPSIA thoughts from a manufacturer/retailer: Cut that line

Don't wanna leave!
Creative Commons License photo credit: kyz

This morning I received a private comment from a reader. He gave me permission to repost it here.

Hello Mark

In Europe they have a “no lead policy” based on roHS (Lead Free). All the US components I buy are roHS compliant so that they may be sold in Europe.

I can also sell in Europe by simply documenting my purchases. I can not afford to sell in to the children’s market any longer in the USA as testing costs would exceed the Gross revenue of our children’s products. As of Feb 10th we will no longer make little backpacks for kids.

This is like a dream come true for China and Walmart. In about six months all the kids will be wearing green clothes with little red stars. The toys will have the same color scheme of course the selection might be a bit mundane.

Dave Sisson CEO
Jandd Mountaineering Inc

Hopefully, the pressure that all of you are putting on your Congressional reps and Senators is helping behind the scenes. Likewise, our calls to the CPSC. This situation is sickening and the timing simply couldn’t be worse.

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CPSIA Homemade products Management Media Montana Press releases Retail Small Business

Do it yourself CPSIA Press Release

Tonight I wrote a press release for use with my local media, so please feel free to use it as is or with your own contact/business information so that your local media can get a feel for the local impact of the CPSIA in your area.

You can get the CPSIA press release here (pdf).

Constructive criticism is welcome, as is posting your version as a comment.

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CPSIA Homemade products Politics Regulation Retail Small Business

Energy and Commerce letter to Waxman/Rush re: CPSIA

Read for yourself…. http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/File/News/1.21.09_CPSIA_Letter_to_Henry_%20Waxman.pdf

Not sure if anything will come of it, nor if it is a partisan smokescreen to simply say “We said to hold up, but you didn’t.”

Time will tell. If the letter is on the up and up and everyone’s intentions are honorable (yeah, I know<g>), then it might be good news.

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CPSIA Management Regulation Retail Small Business

Denial – Not a river in Egypt, an attitude about the CPSIA

Ian over at Aquinas and More Catholic Goods sent me some reaction he’s gotten from his wholesale sources regarding CPSIA.

As you might expect, they’re all over the board.

We have found that several of our vendors are in denial about the law and have flat out said they won’t get things tested because they already know that their components are safe. They have said they will send us a letter saying that everything is safe but aren’t actually going to get things tested.

Several have said that there is no way this can be enforced so they aren’t going to bother getting certified because everything is made here in the US.

Several others have said that testing will bankrupt them.

Retailers, what are you hearing from your wholesale vendors? Or have you bothered to ask?

Categories
China CPSIA Homemade products Manufacturing Politics Regulation Small Business

Smoke, mirrors or an honest effort to fix the CPSIA?


Creative Commons License photo credit: L. Lew

Last week after I left for a winter camping trip with the Scouts, a letter to CPSC Chair Nord came flying out of the House from Waxman, Rush, Pryor and Rockefeller. I just got to the letter this evening, and it’s worthy of comment. 

You can read the Waxman-Rush letter to Chair Nord here.

Many of the proposals in the letter sound like they are listening, such as their suggestion that the commission approves component testing and that the CPSC’s commissioners get off their duffs and make some firm policy decisions. Having the general counsel issue non-binding statements with words like “may” when it comes to certain types of testing isn’t helping anyone comply with the law.

No one really wants exemptions and component testing is a good happy medium for many smaller vendors, but there are plenty of other decisions to be made, both by the CPSC and by Congress. Once Tuesday’s lovefest ends, it’ll be time to get down to real business – like fixing this law or temporarily rescinding it until it can be fixed so that it provides the safety needed without crushing small business. 

As Kathleen Fasanella suggests, “small business”  is in the eye of the beholder. That 500 employee small business designation by the Small Business Administration has long been a joke.

What I wouldn’t suggest is that this letter is an all-clear after the tornado. The pressure on Congress and the CPSC must remain if they are to take action that is of use to kids’ safety AND to small business.

Categories
CPSIA Regulation

Have any of you ever endured an inspection by the CPSC police?

Behind bars
Creative Commons License photo credit: jglsongs

Someone posted this on the site today as a comment but I think it’s worthy of a post of its own.

This comment came from Charlotte Reppy, of Grammies Attic in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Enforcement is a joke. Have any of you ever endured an inspection by the CPSC police? I was paid two visits by their kind folks when one of my friendly competititors turned me in for selling custom made cotton nightgowns that were primarily sold to little girls who were dancing the part of Clara in the Nutcracker Suite ballet. (Others were sold to parents for their children to ride Polar Express trains and for Christmas Card portraits. (http://www.grammies-attic.com/new-nannys-touch-white-cotton-nightgown-with-white-eyelet-trim.html) None were sold as sleepwear.) CPSC hauled away $1000 of beautiful gowns, not mass made in some lead-laden China sweatshop, but each individually sewn by a US seamstress sitting at her sewing machine using a vintage pattern. Three years later, the case has never been resolved, so I am still subject to product recall, fines, and imprisonment for violating flammability standards.

Now Iâ??m sitting on $150,000 of uncertified inventory, most of which is cotton and linen christening apparel. By the way, Iâ??m 5 miles away from CPSC headquarters. Guess who is going to be the first one visited on February 10? Anyone know where I can get some yellow Police Hazard tape to mark off all the â??Hazardous Wasteâ? that I canâ??t sell in my store?

Simply stunning.

Categories
Competition CPSIA Creativity customer retention Homemade products Ideas Improvement Management market research planning Positioning Retail service Small Business Strategy

4 more ways get ideas for new products/services

[audio:https://www.rescuemarketing.com/podcast/FourWaysToGetIdeasForProducts.mp3]

Part 2 in our series, “What else can you use to generate ideas for new products and services?” hits the streets today. Slide over here if you need to see part 1.

Last time, we talked about listening to feedback from your customers (rather obvious, but if everyone did it, I wouldn’t have to say it), and we talked about ways to learn about new trends / methods / products / services in your niche as well as how to borrow ideas from other niches.

Today, I’d like to give you four ways to come up with even more ideas. It’s especially timely for the CPSIA-impacted businesses who might be losing a revenue stream (such as 12-under kids clothing).

You might think that these are oriented solely toward service businesses, but they really apply to both products and services.

Think about your ideal customer’s day. 

Walk through it in your mind, step by step. If you aren’t sure about their day, do you really know enough about your customer’s business? 

Look back at each step. What can you do to smooth their day, take away the roadblocks and annoyances? How can you turn that into not only a one sale, but a repetitive one? 

Think about how your business can help them improve their efficiency, safety and profitability

For example, if your products/services involve safety risks to the employees who use them, how can you help them reduce or eliminate accidents and injuries? Training? Improved products? Their insurance firm might reduce their premium if they see documented steps to reduce risk. 

Direct marketing expert Dan Kennedy has a saying: “If I wake up at 2 am thinking about you, you’re in trouble.”

What has the customers in your market tossing and turning at night in today’s economy?

Is that different than what costs them sleep in a middle of the road economy? Maybe so, maybe not â?? but that’s the sort of thing you need to consider when coming up with ideas. 

If something is keeping your customers awake at night, it would be in your interest to find out what it is and do something about it. 

What are the top three things that frustrate your customers every single day?

How can you take those things off the table? If you can’t do that for some reason, keep going down the list of frustrations until you can. 

Take at least 5 minutes today (preferably more than that) to mull over at least one of these things. Do a different one tomorrow. Keep a list. DON’T DISCARD ANY IDEA. Prioritize them, perhaps, but don’t discard them. You never know when the seed planted by a “bad” idea grows into something spectacular.

Jim Rohn talks about harvesting in the fall because you planted in the spring and cultivated in the summer. It’s time to start planting, even though there’s snow on the ground (at least up here, anyhow).

Categories
CPSIA Media Retail Small Business

WSJ speaks out on the CPSIA

shoes and pipe
Creative Commons License photo credit: carboila

The Wall Street Journal opinion page finally sounded off on the CPSIA yesterday. Pretty good discussion, though they didn’t really get into the ripple effect of the CPSIA. 

That’s the part that concerns me long-term.

Categories
Marketing

Two More Real Businesses. Profitable. Dead due to CPSIA.

Road Closed
Creative Commons License photo credit: MobilFunk7

Today, baby clothier Whimsical Walney announced that they will be closing at the end of business on February 9, 2009 as a result of the impact of compliance with the CPSIA.

Later in the day, the owner of Bella-Bambini, maker of elaborate but reasonably priced girls dresses, emailed to say they were also closing because of CPSIA.

These aren’t businesses that want to poison kids. They aren’t businesses that use lead. They make baby clothes from organic fabric and other natural materials.

Again…how many businesses have to fail before you pick up the phone? See the picture above. Is that what you want your downtown to look like?

Appalling. Simply appalling.

Categories
CPSIA Homemade products Manufacturing Media Regulation Retail Small Business Social Media Video Web 2.0

CPSC’s Vallese interview review re: CPSIA

Tonight I managed to get around to looking at the raw footage of CPSC spokesperson Vallese’s interview with KBAL (Baltimore) regarding the CPSIA.

The reporter did a nice job of trying to pin her down on specific issues. It was a shame that the interview ended without a discussion of component testing or homemade products for kids.

The whole interview was more or less about the impact on thrift stores.

A few quotes stuck out in the seven minute video.

“That law is not defined”

The reporter asked Vallese how thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army are supposed to deal with the CPSIA. Vallese replied that testing is not required by thrift stores and resellers, but that  “there is a lead level limit of 600ppm that has to be met”.

When pressed on how a thrift store is supposed to figure out what to do (in the face of that apparent contradiction), her comment was “that law is not defined”.

I felt it was too bad that the reporter didn’t ask her “How do you enforce a law that is not defined?”, but she did continue down a parallel trail, pressing the CPSC spokesperson for a usable strategy for thrift store businesses.

“a level of confidence”

At that point, Vallese indicated that the business owner needed to arrive at a “level of confidence” regarding the lead content of the products they are selling. The reporter clearly wasn’t satisfied with a partial reply and repeated the question a bit differently.

Vallese replied “they simply need to make a business decision at a level of confidence that the products that they are selling meet the law.”

When asked how they could determine if items met the law, the reporter pressed on, asking what Vallese would suggest to arrive at an acceptable “level of confidence”.

Vallese’s response offered three alternatives:

“they can look at it and make an informed decision”, “they can call the manufacturer”, or “they can test”.

Gee, that’s pretty helpful. I’m no lawyer, but I’m guessing that isn’t something I want in my arsenal when I go to court:

Well, I looked at it and made an informed decision. I tried to reach the manufacturer of this 9 year old item (who was in the Philippines) but they didn’t reply. I didn’t have $38,000 for a XRF scanner and I can’t afford to send every piece in my store to Jennifer, so Vallese’s ‘informed decision’ was the only option I had left. Have mercy on me, your honor!

“screening but not a deciding measure”

That opened up the discussion of testing (again, a shame that the issue of the cost of testing did not come up).

When the reporter asked about testing technology, Vallese indicated that the suggested screening technology is XRF.

When pressed about how the CPSC uses XRF, Vallese indicated: “We use XRF technology as a screening tool but not a deciding
measure.”

Wasn’t that useful? You can use it, but we don’t make decisions based on it.

“mommy bloggers spreading misinformation”

Oh yeah, there was also that “mommy bloggers spreading misinformation” comment.

<Captain Kirk voice>Must. Use. Restraint.</>

As I noted a few days ago: Motrin and many others have learned this lesson the hard way. They could have avoided all that simply by asking the nearest married man.

Husbands like myself already know the “DONT TICK OFF THE MOMS” rule. Not only has the CPSC torqued the so-called mommy bloggers AND the moms and others who own businesses affected by the CPSIA, but they’ve called them out by specifically insulting them.

I think there must be a tad too much lead in the paint in the CPSC offices. Maybe that’s why Vallese resigned.