By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
Actions in China set in motion a series of recalls that affected children, their parents and the merchants they deal with across the United States.
A series of toy recalls, mostly due to lead content in paint, shook consumer confidence across the nation, but had varying effects for Clovis and Portales businesses.
Big Lots and Wal-Mart are the primary toy-sellers in the area, and managers at both said their companies’ standard procedures require them to take care of recalls quickly.
“The first thing is we get a team to go to that area of that department, then we go through that entire department,” said David Mendoza, an associate manager at Big Lots. From there, recalled toys are sent to a regional Big Lots warehouse in Durant, Okla., where they are destroyed.
Bill Marlin, the store manager at Wal-Mart in Portales, said any item that is recalled immediately goes to the store’s claims department. The items are either held until they are checked for the flaws or they are destroyed outright.
Toy giants Mattel and Fisher-Price have each issued recalls this year, with Barbie dolls and Dora the Explorer toys getting the most attention.
Both stores had a few toys that were recalled, and they made information available for customers on the store shelves and the Internet.
“We didn’t have as many as I thought we would,” Marlin said.
The stores gave varied responses on whether the recalls shook consumer confidence in their toy departments.
“I don’t think that it really did,” Mendoza said. “Our toys are a pretty good seller in this store, and it just kept going. We have to restock toys all the time.
“The customers know that it was the (fault of) name-brand companies. It wasn’t our store that was at fault. As a business, we order it, but we didn’t know (the toys) were going to be defective.”
Marlin said following the recalls, customers were much more attentive to labels.
“People were looking to see if it was made in China or Japan a lot more,” Marlin said.
A Clovis day-care center manager said staff did an inventory just to be safe, but said recalls haven’t been a problem.
“We don’t have a lot of Mattel Toys,” Barbara Ann’s manager Essie Means said. “We’ve got Legos. We don’t have the Dora toys that are popular.”
Usually, the day care doesn’t have toys of popular cartoon characters because their popularity dies down quicker than other toys, Means said. If those toys are at the center, it’s probably because a parent donated them, which probably means the toys aren’t fresh off the shelves.
“It’s mostly those popular toys you really would be concerned about,” Means said.