Monday, September 24, 2007

Our Graphic Designer

From Dan: We've been very pleased with our new logo since we introduced it earlier this year. It was designed by my sister, Katrina Hase. (Yep, we're putting the family into the family business!) She's now created her own design firm called mix creative. If you happen to need design work, give her a call--we know from experience that she's really good at working with picky clients!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas

From Dan: We just returned from 3 days in Las Vegas to attend the ABC Kids Expo, which is a trade show for baby products stores. This year, we decided to make it a family trip with Millie's mom Jule and our three kids.

We managed to eke out a few fun times in Vegas, but I have to say that, all the marketing to the contrary, Las Vegas is NOT a family friendly place. This may not be news to some, but we were truly surprised. We've never been anywhere where our children were so unwelcome. Trying to get from one side of our hotel to the other involved dodging cigarette butts and numerous withering glances that said. "Why did you bring those here?" One forty-something man, passing our skipping two year old Duncan, actually said "Ishhhh...." An older woman at the car rental agency just scowled at us. At the FAO Schwartz store in the Forum, we overheard a man with an armful of toys exclaim "What are we doing? I didn't come to Vegas to shop for toys!"

We came to think that kids somehow are antithetical to the Las Vegas mojo. A reminder of the family left at home and why adults are not normally allowed to act like children.

Although we dearly wish the ABC Kids Expo would pick a different city, we did enjoy the show. It was amazing to see so many small companies like Bum Genius, Ergo, Hotslings, and Moby Wrap alongside the likes of Graco and Chicco. Only a few years ago it was hard to find a single cloth diaper or baby sling at a show like this. We also found a few new items that we hope you'll like. More on those later.

One other observation: the trend in smarmy baby t-shirts has officially gone too far. Sure, a onesie that says "Boob Man" or "Party, My Crib, 3am" is cute and funny. But this year we saw one with a picture of two crossed M-16s that said "Booby Hunter". Not cool.

Anyway, we're glad to be home with own overgrown lawn and quiet lives.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Whittle Shortline Featured on "The Story" on Public Radio

We were very pleased to hear a great feature about Made in the USA Whittle Shortline Toys on Public Radio's The Story this evening. Looking for Whittle Shortline Trains? We've got 'em!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Problems at the CPSC

From Dan: The NY Times today published a lengthy expose about the many problems at the CPSC (The Consumer Products Safety Commission) and how they are failing to keep unsafe products off the market. Under the Bush administration, the article reports, testing and enforcement staff have been dramatically cut, the agency has been infiltrated with pro-industry appointees, and regulations have been relaxed. The same story can be told in the last 7 years of the EPA, the FAA, the FDA, and myriad other federal regulatory agencies.

Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturers view the CPSC's voluntary safety standards as optional, and often choose to ignore them.

So, we have an industry that's been outsourcing more and more production to foreign firms and a regulatory agency that's been regulating less and less. This effects not just toys, but everything from cigarette lighters to ATVs.

As a parent, a business owner and a citizen, I expect more from the CPSC. In a time when more and more products are manufactured offshore, we need more diligent oversight, not less. And, we need an agency that stops unsafe products before they reach our homes instead of relying on injury reports to issue ineffective recalls. We need a president that values citizens above corporations.

This summer's wave of toy recalls has made many people question the quality of mass-market Chinese toys. It should also demonstrate that the choices we made at the ballot box in 2000 and 2004 have had tangible results in our everyday lives.