A.G. Schneiderman Seeks To End Illegal Sales Of Dangerous Children's Drawstring Clothing By Thrift Stores

A.G. Survey Of Thrift Shops Across New York Found That 90% Were Selling Children’s Clothing With Drawstrings; Dozens Sent Cease And Desist Letters

Schneiderman: State Law Forbids The Sale Of Clothing With Drawstrings, Which Pose Threat To Children’s Health And Safety

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that 46 thrift shops across New York have been sent cease and desist letters ordering them to stop selling children’s clothing with drawstrings. The letters were sent after a survey by the Attorney General’s 13 Regional Offices found that despite state and federal prohibitions against the sale of children’s drawstring clothing, many thrift shops continue to offer these dangerous items for sale.

“The sale of children’s clothing with drawstrings has been illegal in New York for more than a decade – and that includes the sale of these items by thrift stores,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “No child should be put at risk simply because of the clothing that he or she is wearing. With these warning letters, we are sending a clear signal that thrift shops, like all retailers, must comply with the law – that they cannot sell clothing that puts children at risk of injury, strangulation and death. Beyond that, my office also hopes to also raise parents’ awareness of the serious dangers posed by children’s drawstring clothing.”

As part of the Attorney General's effort to curb the resale of banned consumer products at hundreds of thrift stores across New York State, inspectors from the office visited 51 thrift shops in regions across the state in late July. Of these, 46 shops -- including 13 operated by The Salvation Army and 10 operated by Goodwill Industries -- were found to be selling one or more items of illegal children’s drawstring clothing. The items included shirts, sweatshirts, pants, shorts and skirts, all of which had drawstrings that exceeded the permitted length. In response to the cease and desist letters, sent earlier this month, the thrift stores have acted quickly to remove the offending products from their shelves.

Drawstrings on children’s garments at the neck and waist are considered a safety hazard. The drawstrings can catch on cribs, playground equipment and vehicle doors-- including school bus doors-- and have caused injuries and death by strangulation. From January 1985 through April 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission received reports of 26 deaths and 58 non-fatal incidents involving drawstrings on children’s clothing. New York has banned the sale of children’s drawstring clothing since 2003, and federal rules also ban their sale. 

The thrift shops that received letters were ordered to immediately stop selling illegal drawstring clothing, and to immediately remove all offending items from their shops. The Attorney General’s office will continue to monitor thrift shops, and take enforcement action as appropriate, to ensure compliance going forward. 

Under New York law, it is illegal to sell any item of children’s clothing, up to and including size 12, with a drawstring at the neck. Drawstrings are permissible at the top of a bottom garment (i.e., at the waist of sweatpants), or at the bottom of an upper garment (i.e., at the waist of a jacket) in children’s clothing sized from 2T to 16, if the following conditions are met:

  • The drawstring is attached to the garment at its midpoint, so it cannot be fully pulled to one side, thus making it a hazard.
  • The ends of the drawstring measure no more than three inches from the point where the drawstring exits the garment to the tip of the drawstring, measured while the garment is expanded to its fullest width.
  • No toggles, knots, or attachments can be placed at the ends of the drawstrings other than a standard metal or plastic sheath covering on the end to prevent fraying.

The following is a list of the thrift shops in New York that were found to be selling children’s clothing with hazardous, illegal drawstrings:

Broome County:
Ladies of Charity Nearly New Shop, Binghamton
Salvation Army Thrift Store, Binghamton
The Urban Star, Johnson City

Clinton County: 
St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, Peru
Our Lady of Victory Thrift Shop, Plattsburgh
Salvation Army, Plattsburgh

Dutchess County: 
Goodwill Industries, Wappingers Falls

Erie County:
A King’s Ransom Thrift Shop, Blasdell
Once Upon A Child, Blasdell
Savers Thrift Store, Hamburg
Finders Keepers, Williamsville
Goodwill Store, Williamsville

Jefferson County: 
The Thrift Shop, Inc., Fort Drum
Classy Kids, Watertown
Impossible Dream Thrift Store, Watertown

Long Island: 
Salvation Army, Babylon 
Glory Beez, Baldwin
Goodwill Industries, Bellmore
Salvation Army, Hempstead
Savers, Holbrook
Marshmellow Kids Fashion, Mineola

Monroe County: 
ABVI-Clinton Goodwill, Rochester
Matthew’s Closet, Rochester
Salvation Army, Rochester (East Ridge Road)
Salvation Army, Rochester (Elmridge Center Drive)
Volunteers of America, Rochester

New York City: 
Goodwill Industries, Bronx
Salvation Army, Bronx
Thrift Land USA, Inc., Bronx
Yankee Wiping Cloth Corp., Bronx
Goodwill Industries, Brooklyn (Livingston Street)
Goodwill Retail Store, Brooklyn (Fulton Street)
Goodwill Industries, Manhattan (Fifth Avenue)
Salvation Army, Manhattan (West 96th St.)
Salvation Army, Queens (Steinway Street)

Niagara County: 
Kids Corner Clothing, Niagara Falls
Salvation Army Family Thrift Store, Niagara Falls

Onondaga County:
Liverpool Thrifty Shopper, Liverpool
East Syracuse Thrifty Shopper, East Syracuse
Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, Syracuse
Salvation Army, Syracuse

Orange County: 
Goodwill Industries, Vails Gate

Ulster County: 
Salvation Army, New Paltz

Westchester County: 
Elmsford Goodwill Store, Elmsford
Salvation Army Thrift Store, Mount Vernon
Thrift Store of White Plains, White Plains

The initiative is being coordinated by Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge Gary Brown of the Westchester Regional Office. The Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs is Marty Mack. 

A link to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Final Rule report can be found here.

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