It’s Sunday …

and that means you can Shop for a Cause at Pufferbellies. We will donate 10% of all our sales today, and every Sunday in September, to the Children’s Art Network.

We’ve been busy putting out new dress-ups and cool accessories this week. A chill is in the air. Halloween is coming! Some of my favorite new hats are the Court Jester and Robotman from a cool company called elope. (everybody’s laughing on planet earth)

In other news, you might have seen me (Erin) on Channel 3’s 11:00 news a couple of nights ago. I was asked my opinion on home lead test kits that are commonly sold in hardware stores. Unfortunately, I didn’t give a very informative answer. Here’s some more info based on research I did after the interview. Although I haven’t found documentation about at-home kits being used to test toys, both the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission seem to recommend that consumers do not rely on at-home test kits to determine whether a painted surface contains excess levels of lead. The EPA says that false positive and false negative results are both common, depending on the type of surface being tested. Also, they explain that sensitivity levels of the test kits can vary widely. Based on that, my recommendation would be to have items of particular concern tested by a professional, either at home or (preferably) at a lab.

With all that in mind, the good news is that of the 3 billion toys distributed annually in the US, the vast majority are safe. At Pufferbellies, we’re concerned about the recent toy recalls — and we know that our customers are concerned, too. Our store has been affected by only one recall since we opened our store: the Thomas & Friends items that were recalled in June. We don’t carry Mattel products, which have made up the bulk of the recalled items this summer. Here are some of the steps we’re taking to ensure that the toys we’re selling are safe for the children we serve:

We’ve collected a binder full of safety statements from many of the 230+ vendors we buy from. The binder contains everything from specific test results, to general info about safety measures that vendors take, to contact info for company officials. This info is available for all our customers to peruse.

We monitor the CPSC’s website daily, and receive automated emails whenever any household items (not only toys) are recalled. We’re ready to react quickly if any of our products should happen to be affected by a recall.

We actively seek out products made in places other than China. Do we think that all toys made in China are bad, or potentially hazardous? Definitely not. In fact, more than 80% of toys sold in the US are made in China, and again, the vast majority of them are safe. We stock many toys that are made in China — in some cases, China-made toys are the only ones readily available in certain categories, or the only way to keep particular items affordable for our customers. On the other hand, we know that many of our customers would like to have other options, and we love having those options available. That’s what we’re all about — offering high-quality alternatives to heavily marketed “big box” kinds of toys. We stock toys made in the US, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Sweden, Japan, and other parts of Asia. We’ll be more than happy to show them off to you next time you come in.

We encourage you, our customers, to ask us about this issue. If we don’t have the answers to your questions, we’ll do our best to find them. We’re here to help, and to provide the best toys we can for your kids.



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