Tens Of Thousands Of Cribs Sent To The Woodchipper Last Week

By  | 

This weekend we finally moved our girls into “big girl beds,” as we call them. Our youngest had slept in her (preferred, I promise) Pack N Play until she turned two. Our oldest slept in a crib until last night. She’ll be four in August. I know, it’s crazy. But at some point we removed the drop-down arm and so it was more like the world’s smallest daybed than an actual crib. And she loved it. She’s excited about her big girl bed but did concede last night that she’s sad about how we threw that last crib into the trash.

Now why did we get rid of a perfectly good crib in such a manner? No good reason, actually. It’s just that the federal government forbids their sale or transfer and so we had no option but to send it to the landfill. And why does the federal government forbid their sale? Well, if you do a bad job of putting together a crib with a drop-down rail or fail to maintain its safety, it could in very rare circumstances cause injury to a child. Don’t worry, the cars and ovens and trains that kill far more children each year are still legal. For now.

It’s absolutely no skin off of our backs that we had to take this crib to the landfill. We actually got it for free from a neighbor who was done with it. But this has been a tremendous burden on manufacturers and retailers. And it was made even worse by the way the federal agency handled the recall and banning. Commissioner Anne Northup publicly complained about her agency’s shoddy work in an op-ed a few days ago.

That splintering noise you heard Tuesday was the sound of tens of thousands of safe cribs being thrown into Dumpsters by financially distressed retailers. We arrived here along the all-too-familiar path of congressional mandates and regulatory excess. For anyone who still doubts that our economy is being strangled by executive agencies churning out burdensome and unwarranted regulation, chilling proof can be found in the economic waste caused by the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) handling of the congressional mandate to promulgate retroactive safety standards for cribs.

It’s not just that the law obliterated the second-hand market for these cribs, but it also poorly chose the date by which manufacturers and retailers had to comply with the new law. Namely, they chose the same date, oblivious to how businesses stock and sell inventory. Manufacturers had until June 28 to ship cribs under the old standards. Retailers had until June 28 to ship them. Um, yeah, way to consider how inventories work. Up until June 28, these cribs could be sold for hundreds or thousands of dollars. But as the clock struck midnight on June 28, they were worthless. Even if you accept the idea that this commission’s decision on drop-side cribs was valid, they should have staggered the dates by which manufacturers could make and retailers could sell the cribs.

Northup writes:

Not surprisingly, the poorly considered and ill-conceived decision to set a six-month effective date for both manufacturers and retailers had precisely the expected consequences. Some retailers were able to avoid noncompliant inventory overhang after June 28 by selling their noncompliant cribs at fire sale prices and not replenishing their stock until compliant cribs became available toward the end of the six-month period.

This group, with no return on their prior investment and insufficient new product to sell, struggled to pay their overhead and in some cases went deeply into debt to remain in business. Most retailers were simply unable to unload their stock of noncompliant cribs and those were the cribs destroyed Tuesday.