Friday, January 9, 2009

Our long campaign

From Dan: It's now been about a month and a half since we helped form the Handmade Toy Alliance in an effort to save the dozens of small companies that we buy stuff from. I've learned a lot in that time, most of it incredibly humbling.

First, I've learned that there are a lot more people making toys and children's products in the US than I ever would have dreamed of. I wrote last year in this blog that there is no one making dolls in the USA anymore, and I have learned that this is not true.

We are really at the start of a renaissance of manufacturing in this country, with hundreds of people making stuff in their living rooms and basements and selling it on the internet. It shouldn't surprise me so much, since that's basically how we started our business, but it has. I only hope we can fix this law before all that energy gets squashed.

Second, I've learned that it is true that a small group of dedicated people can make a difference. In early December, all our calls to Congress went unanswered and the CPSC ignored us. But, working from one member to the next, one blog to the next, one reporter to the next, we've finally gotten the attention of Congress and the CPSC, which has begun issuing guidance to make the CPSIA less burdensome to small businesses.

I've been talking to too many media folks, from the LA Times to CNN to Oregon Public Radio, which is way beyond my comfort level. Others in the Alliance have been quoted in the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Wall Street Journal, amoung many others. The story is easy to tell: why should these tiny manufacturers suffer because of the sins of Mattel and Thomas the Tank Engine?

We're not there yet, not by a long shot, but we have found hope in this month and a half. I'm not sure it's audacious hope, but it feels better than despair. The truth is that the reason I'm working so hard on this is that it's the only way for me not to get totally depressed about the situation. We'll know we've succeeded when every one of our suppliers and every member of the Handmade Toy Alliance can say yes, I can comply with the law and I can remain in business.

And, along the way, I've met some really wonderful and talented people that I never would have had a chance to meet otherwise. People like us who believe in sustainable, quality goods for children.

Thanks again to those people and to all of our customers who have expressed their support. Best wishes,
Dan
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