CPSC rules could make holding a yard sale a lot less fun


Holding a yard sale is about cleaning out your house, providing people with cool stuff at great prices, and raising a little bit of cash in the process, right? Perhaps, but apparently it's also a dangerous way for tainted products to re-enter the marketplace.

The Wall Street Journalreports (subscription required) that "A consumer-product safety law signed last year makes it illegal to sell recalled products -- and that applies to goods sold at yard sales, as well as flea markets and Internet sites like Craigslist. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is charged with enforcing the law, is urging consumers who buy and sell products at garage sales to research the goods and make sure they are safe."

What the heck? So now you're supposed to go online and Google around for product recalls on every 15-year old crock pot or home fitness fad you're planning to sell for $2? The good news is that the CPSC readily admits that it lacks the resources to police yard sales and make sure that no one is selling dangerous ozone-producing Ionic Breezes, but still: The fact that the commission would suggest that people actually research product recalls before they sell their castoffs at garage sales is indicative of some serious common sense problems in Washington.

But for parents who shop at yard sales for toys, there are some important takeaways from these guidelines: If you have a young child who tends to put things in his mouth, it's a good idea not to buy any older toys or foreign-made toys from companies you've never heard of, as there's always the chance that they'll be contaminated with lead.

And if you're thinking about buying a piece of exercise equipment, don't fret too much about product safety. If the last owner's experience is any indication, you probably won't end up using it anyway.