Monday, June 21, 2010

Handmade Toy Alliance Blog Week: Spotlight on Camden Rose

All this week, thirty blogs across the country will be profiling the member businesses of the Handmade Toy Alliance. We're happy to participate and would like to start off the week with Camden Rose, one of our favorites.

Camden Rose began in 2003 as an effort to produce in the USA the same kind of high quality wooden playthings as are made in Germany. We stock their rattles, wooden eggs, child-size mops, little wooden cars, and stacking blocks. All are heirloom quality and will last for years.

A couple of years ago, we visited Camden Rose owners Judy Alexander and Jason Gold at their shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We got an incredibly warm reception and were impressed by their vibrant business.

Their signature piece is their Cherry Rattle, which many of our customers will recognize. We love it for its organic shape and smooth feel. When you hold one in your hand, you know that it wasn't made by a machine on an assembly line but by human hands.

Back in the fall of 2008, when the toy safety law known as the CPSIA was passed, we called Jason and asked him how the law's new third party testing requirements were affecting his business. He told us that he had already contacted a lab and got a quote for nearly $4,000 to test his wooden rattle for lead and phthalates, a plastic additive, neither of which have ever been found in wood.

We've been working with Jason and a collection of several hundred other businesses ever since through the Handmade Toy Alliance. One of our early victories was when the CPSC declared in 2009 that fabric and natural materials like wood will not need to be tested for lead. Hopefully we can make more progress in easing the burden of the CPSIA on small manufacturers so that we can continue to offer wonderful toys from great businesses like Camden Rose for many years to come.
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