Consumers, beware of toys in circulation

Rick Wagner • Nov 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — This year’s toy recalls are hard enough to track on the primary market.

Imagine the problems of tracking them on the secondary toy market.

Officials at eBay, the international Internet- based auction-style marketplace, recently announced a crackdown on sellers offering known recalled toys.

Meanwhile, customers of the Salvation Army and those who receive toys through the Angel Tree program can be assured those toys are not recalled, said Capt. Iva West, who along with her husband, Brian West, is an administrator and pastor for the Salvation Army in Kingsport.

“It has not been a problem for us that much,” Iva West said.

“If it’s on the recall list our national headquarters sends us, we dispose of it,” she said. “We don’t get that many toys.”

One exception, however, is the annual Angel Tree promotion that collects toys to be distributed to those with limited means.

The Salvation Army nationwide will accept only toys that are unwrapped — although donors are asked to donate wrapping paper.

“They have to leave all the gifts unwrapped this year,” she said.

The Marines’ Toys for Tots program has collected toys unwrapped for years.

Another recipient of donated toys is Goodwill of Tenneva, where Kingsport-based Retail Director James Stutz said employeees and management work to be sure no recalled toys are on store shelves, even if that means pulling some toys not recalled.

“I can’t say that it’s that big of an issue, but it’s an issue because we have toys donated to us,” Stutz said.

He said Goodwill International provides the local Goodwill chain a list of recalled toys, but that in general Goodwill pulls any toys in the general class of those recalled.

“It’s impossible to go to each specific toy and get serial numbers,” Stutz said.

If there’s any question, “We just don’t put them out,” Stutz said. “Everybody’s more sensitized to the recall problem.”

At the Habitat Resale Store on East Sullivan Street, Jim Boushley — who serves on the Habitat board, said volunteers keep close tabs on recalls even though toys are a small part of the store’s business.

“When we see a toy recall, we will come in the store on any day that we are open and see if we have any on the recall list or one similar to those on the recall list. We throw them away,” Boushley said.

Some thrift retailers said they keep an eye out for recalled toys but also warn customers to be vigilant.

“We carry toys, but we also have a sign here at the front that we are not responsible for recalled toys,” said Shearmalean Johnson, manager of Second Time Around Consignment on Broad Street.

Over at Treasures Resale Store on West Sullivan Street, owner Julie McCloud said toy recalls haven’t been much of an issue for the business.

“We haven’t got a lot of toys in that have been recalled. I’m a parent, too, so I try to keep up with the recalls,” McCloud said.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site, www.cpsc.gov, has a list recalled toys.

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