Business Week blogger John Tozzi wrote last week about the impending implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in February, and we wanted to get to it before he posts the fruits of his inquiry to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, which he said we should expect sometime this week. Basically, the law requires increased vendor testing of products (for lead, for harmful chemicals) intended for children. Seems like an unalloyed good (no pun intended), but in fact, it could see small business owners--including those hand-crafting their own goods--subjected to regulations designed for bigger businesses with more cash lying around for testing.
It's a tough question. On the one hand, the testing regime should in theory be good for business, as their existence makes it more likely that customers will assume your products are safe and therefore will be more likely to buy them; meanwhile the fact that they are subject to everyone will not give one company an advantage over another.
On the other hand, there is an advantage--if you're bigger, and therefore can save money on testing due to economies of scale. Additionally, you could argue that requiring testing actually saps some of the appeal of products sold by, and specifically products made by, small vendors: their aura of homemade-ness and organicness, which the testing requirements mess with.
So stay tuned. Hopefully we'll be able to relay what the CPSC--and perhaps the Small Business Administration--have to say about all of this.
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