Friday, January 30, 2009

Self Stimulation

I don't have time to read much anymore, what with running a business, taking care of my family, and washing 12-18 loads of laundry each week. Not to mention that, with the internet, I don't have to pick up a newspaper to get the latest news, classifieds or movie reviews. I do, however, like to peruse the East Bay Monthly magazine/newspaper that gets delivered to GROVE STREET kids, especially since the editor (at that time) is a customer at our store, and did us the lovely favor of sending one of her staff writers over to do a little article about us in their Shop Talk section. (10/07)

This month's issue has a letter from the publisher, Karen Klaber, on the back. It's entitled "Buy Local • Stay Local • Be East Bay" and is all about the benefits of shopping locally. Now, I don't think I've ever claimed to be particularly savvy when it comes to running and/or owning a business. My background is in Design, after all. When I opened GROVE STREET kids, I didn't have a business plan with lots of data or figures to tell me why it would be a good business venture. I couldn't begin to tell you what percentage of my gross (or is it my net?) profit should be reinvested in the infrastructure. Nor did I compare the quarterly forecasts for the children's retail industry to determine the net (or is it the gross?) profit and loss statements... what the??? I, basically, just believed in my gut that it was a good move to make. Just like in my mind, I just know it's a good idea to support and patronize our local community's small businesses. And today, in Ms. Klaber's letter, I read some facts and figures as to why it's such a good idea.

There's a lot of talk these days of an "economic stimulus." As the Buy Local Berkeley campaign explains, where you spend your money determines just how stimulating it is. For every $100 you spend, $68 of it stays in our local community. That means 58% more of your money gets spent again right here in our region. Now you are helping your friends and neighbors keep their jobs. You're helping the environment by conserving fuel. You are conserving tax dollars because local sales taxes are reinvested into the community. You are a walking, talking stimulus package! You are self-stimulating.

For more detailed information on how to"self-stimulate" and why it's good for you and our local community, visit

Friday, January 9, 2009

U-S-C-P-S-C Spells Relief...

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission declared yesterday that resellers and consignment store owners are not required to certify that used products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards. That IS good news, in that we will not be committing a felony if we continue to operate GROVE STREET kids.

Now having written that statement, which sounds a bit disheartening - as if we don't care about the safety of children's products - we want to assure our customers that we absolutely care and all the toys and gifts that we purchase directly from manufacturers have been tested and certified. Used clothing and shoes, of course, are a different story, and we cannot absolutely guarantee that all textiles and components of these items are 100% lead-free. From a business standpoint it just doesn't make sense to be required to test used garments - the cost of testing and certification far exceeds the cost of the garment itself! Which is why there was such a concern that resale and consignment stores across the nation would be forced to close their doors. Not to mention the loss of revenue from children's items sold at bigger companies like Salvation Army or The Good Will.

I think we have set a good precedent for the quality of merchandise we will accept for resale here at GROVE STREET kids. But, rest assured, we are conscious of the new law taking effect in February and would never want to sell anything, be it clothing, shoes or toys that would put any child at risk or in danger.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Out with the Old, Out with it All?

On January 1st, I had started a post entitled..."Out with Old, In with the New-to-You!" excited at the prospect of a New Year in Resale Children's clothing. Then, last night, I received an email from a good friend simply stating... "Is this for real?? What are you going to do?" She had sent me a link to a blog that basically states that due to a new law, the Consumer Product Safety Act, the possibility is very real that consignment and resale shops, like GROVE STREET kids could be forced to shut their doors.

This law, while well-intentioned, is fatally flawed. This law requires that all products (including clothing) sold for children ages 12 and under, be tested for lead and other toxic chemicals. Anything that hasn't been tested will be considered hazardous (even if they don't contain the chemicals) and cannot be sold. Not on eBay, not in a garage sale, not at GROVE STREET kids.

In addition, this law requires expensive testing and certification for every handmade item for children. Small crafters, handmade items (even made out of certified organic materials) will have to be tested in order to be sold legally. The phthalates testing is only required on products manufactured after the act goes into effect on February 10, 2009, but the lead testing is required on all children's products already made, and therefore would force us to throw out our entire inventory, because as resale store owners, it's certainly not worth the cost of testing each garment or product we sell.

That's not all. This law will require testing on EVERYTHING that comes into contact with your child that is 12 years or under. This includes clothing, of course, shoes, bedding, backpacks, sippy cups, car seats. I don't think I need to go on with the list, for you to understand the impact of such a poorly written piece of legislature.

So what can be done? We need to get the word out to our Legislators. There are two links you can go to to petition this law.
The first is where you can vote to petition this law. The second is the American Apparel and Footwear Association where you can write directly to your Representative, Congressperson or Senator.

On a final note, I have no plans to shut my doors on February 10th. I think something must change regarding this legislation if for no other reason than it goes against every platform President-Elect Obama stands on. So, until I'm told differently, at GROVE STREET kids, it's out with the old, and in with the new-to-you!