Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Chinese Toys, again

As I'm sure you can all imagine, we're getting lots of questions about Chinese toys right now. Do we sell Chinese toys? Are our Chinese toys safe? What alternatives are there to Chinese toys?

These are questions we've struggled with as a store for many years now, long before the current wave of recalls and safety problems.

Very early on, we decided we did not want to be a "toy boutique." We strive to sell toys at a wide variety of price points, to a wide variety of people. We have lots of really beautiful, fairly expensive European toys. And we have lots of affordable, "everyday" type toys, many of which are made in China.

We have several concerns with Chinese toys: The labor practices of many if not most Chinese factories, the environmental costs of China's industrial revolution, and finally, the questionable quality and sometimes safety of Chinese toys.

But in the end, we have been unwilling to decide not to sell Chinese toys in our store. It would mean having a lot fewer options. And it would fundamentally change the character of our store. We would no longer have pocket-money toys for children to spend their allowances on. We would no longer have a good selection of $15 birthday-party presents. The store would be beautiful and exclusive, which as I said, is just not what we've ever aspired to be.

The best position we've been able to define as a store is we will actively search out options and offer you alternatives. We can tell you where most everything in our store is made, and we try to be very up front with this information both in our store and on our website. We can offer you US, European, and/or non-Chinese options in most categories. (See our website for a clear list of countries of origin. Chinese products are all listed under East Asia.) We actively seek out fair trade and domestically made products wherever good-quality and fairly priced options exist, and we talk to our vendors (a lot) about where their products are made and why it matters to us.

If that seems like a very wishy-washy answer, it's not for lack of thought.

Take care--Millie
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