Thrift Stores Exempt From New Lead-Testing Law

Children's consignment shops welcome news

Federal regulators said Thursday that sellers of used children's products will not be required to certify the items meet new lead limits mandated by Congress.

The law, which goes into effect next month, requires domestic manufacturers and importers to test children's products for lead and phthalates. Products that exceed federally mandated limits are banned.

The law was initially interpreted to also apply to thrift stores and other resale shops, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday that resellers are not required to test products.

However, regulators also said resellers cannot sell items that exceed the lead limits mandated in the new law and should "therefore avoid products that are likely to have lead content" unless they have information indicating the products meet the limits. Resellers who sell products in violation of the new limits can face civil and/or criminal penalties.

Pam Willingham, who is getting ready for the largest children's consignment sale in Texas, the Just Between Friends semiannual sale in March, said she was relieved by the agency's move.

"Well, I thought, 'Oh, my goodness, we may have to close," she said.

She said it wasn't feasible for resales shops to conduct testing.

"When you're the manufacturer, you do lead testing on one of these for all 500," Willingham said. "Well, when you only have one of these, you'd have to test it individually, and that's not going to work for resale items."

Willingham said she expects more than 5,000 shoppers to attend the Just Between Friends sale at the Will Rogers Center in Fort Worth in March.

Individual lead testing kits will be available at the sale for shoppers who want to test any products themselves.

The huge sale will feature 750 consignors spread over 50,000 square feet, selling everything from new and gently used clothing and shoes to furniture and toys.

"If it's for kids, we have it," Willingham said.

For more information on the Just Between Friends sale, visit:

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