Fidget spinners burst on the scene this spring and we saw them everywhere–in classes, at restaurants, you name it. We figured they would start showing up in consignments our customers bring to us. But you won’t see them sold here.
Fidget Spinners and Choking Hazards
We decided early on that we won’t sell spinners. To us, they look a lot like a choking hazard, and that’s one of our biggest concerns. Sadly, it turns out that this has already happened and not to a toddler, but to an older child.
According to Good Housekeeping, a ten-year-old who was “cleaning” her spinner toy in her mouth accidentally ingested one of the ball bearings that make them spin. She was able to communicate what happened to her mother, who took her to an ER. She had emergency surgery to remove it from her esophagus.
Later, the mom posted about the episode on Facebook.
Should a ten-year-old know better? Well, kids are impulsive. Some spinners are marketed to help kids with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) maintain their focus, a group that’s already at-risk for injury. (There’s no evidence that they help with ADD—more on that below.)
Good Housekeeping examined several fidget spinners. They found many broke apart quite easily into pieces small enough to be classified as a choking hazard for young children.
Some Fidget Spinners Contain High Amounts of Hazardous Materials
It caught my eye when I came across a few articles that mentioned many of these fidget spinners are made in China.
Considering how quickly they flooded the market, I wasn’t surprised to read. Then I began to wonder about lead hazards. I closely follow recalls on kids’ items and I can tell you many recalls are for Chinese-manufactured products with excessive amounts of lead. In the past, Chinese manufacturers have also exported contaminated dog food and children’s medicine.
I found news reports about high levels of lead and mercury in fidget spinners. Probably the most reliable one comes from Tamara Rubin, an environmentalist and lead abatement crusader. Rubin recently ran tests on several spinners and learned they come apart quite easily (as Good Housekeeping found) and contain high amounts of lead. plus mercury in their paint.
Worse, the ones with batteries to make them light up are powered by tiny, button batteries that can fall out if they aren’t secured with the right size screw and nut. Button batteries can be deadly if swallowed.
At AZ Kidz n More, we take extra care inspecting toys and books that run on batteries, particularly small batteries. We check to make sure they still work, aren’t leaking, and are held securely in place. If we spot a problem, we return the item to the consigner and let them know about the hazard.
No Evidence that Fidget Spinners Help Kids with ADD
As I mentioned above, some spinners are marketed for kids with ADD with claims that they can improve focus. Unfortunately, there’s no actual research to back this up. Making a claim without any evidence amounts to lying—to kids with ADD and their parents.
Scott Kollins, Ph.D., of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, told NPR that spinners are basically the latest toy that says it can help people with ADD. “There’s basically no scientific evidence that those things work across the board,” he says.
Schools that are still in session are considering banning them, and you can bet that more will come the fall. Teachers and students complain that the whizzing sound is distracting to non-spinners, and some schools have reported that they become just another toy with hard parts kids will throw at one another.
What can parents with ADD kids do to help them? I like the ADDitude Magazine website. It discusses assistive technologies and strategies rather than cheaply-made and possibly dangerous toys.
Do you have a kid with ADD? What has been your experience with fidget spanners? Email me with your thoughts.
There have been car seat recalls in recent months.
AZKidznMore researched our files to see if we had sold any of these recalled carseats. We did not. Our policy is to reach out to customers whose contact information we have (usually, those who consign with us) if they have purchased items that were later recalled.
These recalls were voluntary measures taken by the manufacturers themselves, who are cooperating with NHTSA and child safety organizations.
To check on your car seat, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s page on car seat recalls.
Mention a car seat, and you have our attention. We are firm believers that car seats and restraints should always be used for kids who need them.
In Arizona, this includes kids who are:
Under eight years old, and
4 feet, nine inches tall or under
You can also use approved car booster seats for kids between five and seven years old and under 4’9″.
You can find information about car seat laws in different states at the website DMV.org.
What About Used Car Seats?
Many people will choose to buy a brand-new car seat and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, don’t dismiss all used car seats as unsafe, because this is not the case.
AZ Kidz n More sells used car seats but we certainly do not accept all that come through our door.
Any item brought in for consignment is checked for damage such as rips, tears, holes, cracks, stains, and defects.
We make sure all the parts are present and work properly, including straps and buckles.
We reject anything that’s dirty or smells.
As we’ve said before, if we wouldn’t use it, we wouldn’t let it go to your home (or in this case, your vehicle).
Our consigners are thoughtful people. They know we won’t accept items that don’t look gently-used or aren’t clean. They wouldn’t dream of offering us shoddy products. Many have saved instruction pamphlets and registration information with car seats, furniture, strollers, and other durable items they consign with us. These documents include information about proper installation, which can also be found on manufacturer websites.
We check the UPC code and other identification against recalls, using the USCPSC website. We do this with furniture, strollers, and toys as well.
Who Buys Used Car Seats Anyway?
Many of our customers who buy car seats are grandparents or other relatives expecting visitors who include a young child. Some parents also buy a car seat from us to have an extra one on hand for emergencies or to transport other children.
If a customer seems uncertain about buying a used car seat, we encourage him or her to buy a new one. We will never do a “hard sell” on a customer for any item in our store. We don’t want any customer to be anything less than 100% satisfied with a purchase from AZ Kidz N More.
Recently, a customer brought in an infant/toddler car seat from a top manufacturer. We rejected it because there was a part missing from the carry handle. This part has nothing to do with securing the seat, but everything to do with getting a baby in and out of the car while strapped in. Still, two customers asked about its availability before the owner came to collect it.
Make Sure Your Car Seat is Properly Installed
Regardless of where your car seat originates, you must make sure it is properly installed.
Too many people don’t understand how to install a car seat. It isn’t always easy or obvious. A 2015 study by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found almost 60% of car seats and 20% of booster seats were installed incorrectly. Obviously, incorrectly installed carseats are less effective in protecting children during crashes.
You can get professional installation, though, preferably from a CPS (Child Passenger Safety) technician who has had special training. Use this link from Safe Kids Worldwide to find one in your area. We searched for Scottsdale, AZ (where our store is located) and discovered there are CPS technicians throughout Scottsdale, including at one of the city’s fire houses, and at fire stations on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community.
And before you know it, those kids will be in line at the DMV to get a driver’s learning permit!
My son, who’s an important part of this business, is in his senior year of high school. Financial aid for his post-secondary education is on our minds.
It’s never too soon to think about college costs. Take a look at the financial aid worksheet below to get an idea of the expenses you can expect. It’s from the college tuition information night recently held at Saguaro High School.
Before I continue, take note that the whole FAFSA process is brand-new this year. Whatever you’ve done for your older kids, or you’ve heard about from friends, neighbors, family, etc., just forget it. It’s a new game out there.
It’s the Free Application for Financial Student Aid. It’s on the web, as FAFSA.gov and FAFSA.com. They’re the same site. And it’s very important for your high school senior to open a FAFSA account because all student financial aid that comes from a college, state, or Federal government goes through FAFSA.
Many private financial aid sources, like grants from employers and community organizations also ask to see FAFSA information before deciding on an award.
The accounts are free. Do not use any service that claims to handle your FAFSA account for you. They aren’t all that difficult to set up and you’re walked through the whole process. Sit down with your kid and open an account together.
FAFSA stores documents you upload to the site that help college financial aid offices and other organizations decide how much funding they will give your student. It also calculates how much a family is expected to contribute to pay for college expenses. These decisions are based on information from your income, taxes investments like the 529 college savings plan, and other financial information.
FAFSA stores student and family financial information online.
In the old days, you had to send all this information by email or US Mail. But for the past several years, this has been done online.
Yes, this means storing sensitive information in the cloud. If you don’t want to do this, then you’re giving up the opportunity to get financial help most kids need for college. Don’t get angry with me: I’m just the messenger! And for what it’s worth, online storage services are harder to hack than email accounts. It’s also a lot easier to make corrections and update information when it’s stored online.
FAFSA will begin accepting information for the 2016 – 2017 college year on October 1. That’s the first day high school seniors can open accounts and start filling out information. The deadline to apply for popular Federal financial aid like Pell grants is June 30, so there is plenty of time.
Keep in mind that students don’t have to open a FAFSA account to apply to a college. Colleges can wait until later in the spring to settle details about how tuition, room and board, and other expenses will be paid.
Beginning this year, FAFSA will be able to tell students as early as January how much financial aid they can get for the upcoming college year. In the past, this information wasn’t available until March. Many competitive colleges need to know as early as May if students will be attending in the fall. This didn’t give families a lot of time to consider options. Now, they have several months instead of several weeks to make these decisions.
What Kind of Financial Aid is Out There?
Once your student gets a FAFSA account started, he or she will begin to receive information about financial aid available. Some aid comes through grants, which do not have to be repaid, while others are loans, which generally do have to be repaid. Some loans are forgiven (in other words, cancelled) later on in exchange for working certain jobs in certain regions.
Students must prove they are eligible to get financial aid from the government. This doesn’t pose huge obstacles for most high school students.
They need to be US citizens or US Nationals
They must have a social security number
Boys over 18 must be enrolled in the Selective Service (i.e., register for the draft) at age 18. Right now, women are not required to register.
There are some exceptions to these rules. Here’s a link to eligibility requirements—which you will see also requires a FAFSA account.
Many Arizona students who enroll in full-time undergraduate (associate or bachelor) degree programs apply for these federal grants:
Pell Grants, which are awarded by the federal government based on financial need. The maximum Pell award for the 2016 – 2017 college year is $5815.
Federal Supplemental Equal Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are given to students whose Pell application shows the greatest need for assistance. They provide up to $4000 per year.
The Federal Work-Study Program arranges part-time jobs on campus or with public interest organizations to students who show additional financial need. Students can work for up to 20 hours per week.
Remember, grants do not have to be repaid, ever.
Most grants can be renewed each year. Virtually all require students to maintain a strong GPA. College admissions offices often steer students, particularly freshmen, for counseling to make sure they aren’t, frankly, blowing away the money or their grades.
There are also college loans to think about.
Most parents and students will want a loan backed by the Federal government because the interest rate (currently 3.7%) is fixed and repayment doesn’t start until after graduation. (These loans used to be called Stafford Loans.) In many cases, payment can be deferred (postponed) until a graduate is settled into a job and earning enough to start paying back the loan.
Subsidized loans are granted to students with financial need (according to their FAFSA documents) and don’t charge an interest rate while the student is enrolled at least half-time and for six months after graduation. Deferred loans usually stay interest-free.
Unsubsidized loans are open to anyone regardless of financial need but usually carry interest from the moment they’re signed. Keep in mind that colleges determine the amount of a federal loan a student can receive.
Some loans can be completely forgiven if the graduate works in public interest jobs in underserved areas, and/or they maintain an excellent payment record for 10 years. Here’s more information about government-backed college loans. Note that Perkins Loans are no longer available.
Private loans are what get people in trouble. People (meaning parents) with good credit can usually get a stable bank loan with pretty good interest rates. Some institutional loans (loans offered by the college or university) might carry higher interest rates. Those are the ones you’ve heard about, that leave students (particularly independent young adults) with debts up to $100,ooo or more. Reputable colleges won’t let students go down that road.
Staying in Arizona? You’ll Get Pretty Generous College Financial Aid
Arizona residents get a pretty good deal from the three major public universities. Each of these schools maintain close contact with high school guidance counselors, who are excellent sources for information about applying for financial aid. Here are links to Arizona universities’ financial aid offices:
Our three public universities offer a variety of grants and loans. Their staff work with high school students applying for financial aid and current college students who need to renew theirs. They also help students with less pressing financial need find campus and off-campus jobs.
All three universities participate in the Earn to Learn savings program that encourage students from lower-income families to save for college in exchange for very generous financial help. (Here’s the eligibility chart.) Students who save $500 can qualify for $4500 in college tuition credits: an 8 – 1 return! The program also provides personal financial training to students and boasts an 87% retention rate, higher than the schools’ average freshman return rate. About 10,000 students will be helped by this program through 2020.
We were so excited to find that the popular local magazine Raising Arizona Kids put our resale shop front and center in their article about shopping for kids’ clothes (n’ more!).
Even better, we are the first shop featured in the article, in the category for Best for Babies, Kids, and Tweens.
Our Resale Shop Features Items for Teens, Too
Although our resale shop does carry a lot of clothes, books, and toys for infants, toddlers, and tweens, we do have items for teenagers, including clothes, games, caps, and other fun stuff.
We maintain a healthy inventory of boys’ jeans, which some teen girls may be able to wear as well. (It all depends on her shape.) Similarly, teens of either sex can wear many of the shorts and virtually all of the t-shirts we keep on hand year-round as well.
Then there are shoes.
A lot of our customers have been with us since their kids were small. They keep bringing us their teens’ clothes and especially their shoes.
If you have teenagers, you know their feet grow quickly. A lot of our customers can only wear their shoes and sneakers for a year or less and bring them to us for resale. So if your tween or teen needs, say, dress shoes for Band or Orchestra, give us a call because we just might have a pair that fits him or her.
And of course, we have sneakers in all sizes. More than a couple of parents have picked up a pair for himself or herself.
Is Your Teen or Tween a Movie Buff?
We were a little sad to read in PC Worlda couple of weeks ago that the last VCR/VHS player would be made in July and then no more. Japan’s Funai Corporation was the holdout.
We used to buy dual DVD/VHS players but they always broke. Then we picked up a tiny TV with a built-in VCR at a yard sale. It plays our old Springsteen concert videos, a Saturday Night Live 20th Anniversary tape, and miscellaneous old movies like The Jerk and Spartacus.
Our back area, which houses books, textbooks, and movies, includes almost as many VHS tapes and DVDs. If your future Bill Goodykuntz or Michael Bay is asking for old classics (by their standards), come here first to see what we have. Our selection is a lot less expensive than anything they’ll find online.
We also occasionally get games for Wii, GameBoy, and other gadgetry. Call us for titles and we can put out an alert if one comes in that you want.
We check out each media item we receive to make sure it works and that nothing is missing. We do the same for toys, books, and puzzles. If we receive an incomplete game, we hold on to the spare parts! So call us if you need the funny bone from Operation, a red piece from Sorry! or someone dealt you and incomplete deck of cards.