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If you've ever purchased kids' clothing at a consignment shop or garage sale, you won't be able to do it after Feb. 10, 2009. In this tough economy, that's going to hurt a lot of working families. And why? Because Congress passed a new regulation under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in response to widespread recalls of products that posed a threat to children, including toys made with lead or lead-based paint. Totally understandable, but how will this affect struggling families now?

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times:
"'Lead can also be found in buttons or charms on clothing and on appliques that have been added to fabric,' said Charles Margulis, communications director for the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland. 'A child in Minnesota died a few years ago after swallowing a lead charm on his sneaker,' he said."
"But others say the measure was written too broadly. Among the most vocal critics to emerge in recent weeks are U.S.-based makers of handcrafted toys and handmade clothes, as well as thrift and consignment shops that sell children's clothing."
This situation was brought to my attention on the MarketingProfs Knowledge Exchange by Cynthia Broockman, who owns two consignment stores and a thrift shop in Virginia. Yes, this is about her livelihood but it also affects nonprofit agencies (like Goodwill) that sell used clothing to generate fundraising revenue. Not to mention the millions of lower and middle-income families that rely on second-hand clothing for their kids.
Protecting our kids from lead-based toys and items is a sound thing to do, but some exceptions should be made. Got any ideas?

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Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

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Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel