Archive - Nov 12, 2007
SARAH ROSCOE WORKS on wooden airplane toys at Maple Landmark in Middlebury last Thursday morning. The local toy company has been the unexpected beneficiary of a surge in business as consumers respond to recent recalls of toys manufactured in China.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
November 12, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — A recent spate of toy recalls has turned many consumers away from major manufacturers and foreign markets and prompted them to seek out smaller, more environmentally friendly companies — like Middlebury-based Maple Landmark Woodcraft.
“We’re seeing a huge increase in the demand,” said Michael Rainville, founder and president of Maple Landmark. “We are the beneficiaries of the problem that has been going on. And there are not too many U.S. manufacturers (of wooden toys).”
Rainville said that incoming orders in early October were about 70 percent ahead of where they were at the same time last year. Shipments last month were up 37 percent.
“Almost all of this change we’re seeing is related to people being afraid of what they’re buying,” Rainville said. “There is a segment of people that is not willing to trust anything that says ‘Made in China’ on the back right now. So they are coming to us.”
That sentiment has come through loud and clear through client input Maple Landmark has received through its Web site.
“They’ll write all sorts of things in the comment box, like ‘We threw out all our toys and we’re starting over,’” Rainville said. “Some dealers are realizing they have too many ‘Made in China’ toys on their shelves and are looking for a better balance.”
They are looking to Maple Landmark to help achieve that balance, and orders for the company’s more than 1,000 different products have been flying in.
November 12, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Community Action Group (ACCAG) officials are concerned there may be fewer holiday gifts for area needy children this year because eligible families are not getting enough information about a key program that offers free presents.
At issue is ACCAG’s “Giving Tree Program,” through which income-eligible families can fill out wish-list applications for children under 18 years old. The application is then condensed into an tree-shaped tag that is forwarded to participating businesses. Customers and employees of those businesses can pick up one of the tags and buy a present, which is then picked up by ACCAG and given to the family. The recipients’ names are kept confidential.
Last year ACCAG received 760 Giving Tree applications and has previously taken in more than 900 in one year. But ACCAG Executive Director Jeanne Montross on Thursday noted that she had received only 300 applications thus far, a very low number compared to previous years.
Montross theorized a big reason for the drop has been because some Addison County schools have now declined to send Giving Tree Program application forms home with students. In the past, all students had been given the forms and eligible families would then return them to ACCAG. But Montross said some schools don’t want to run the risk of having students bringing confidential family information at school.
“It’s been significant,” Montross said of the impact on the schools’ decision on the Giving Tree program. She said Middlebury schools have continued to send the forms home with kids, but Vergennes and Bristol-area schools have not participated this year.
November 12, 2007
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
ADDISON COUNTY — Kathy Ciociola of Vergennes had tried to stop smoking more than once, but never managed to stay away completely until she found out about the “Ready, Set… Stop!” program of the Addison County Tobacco Control Roundtable. Ciociola found the atmosphere of that program more helpful than trying to quit on her own, and she has now been smoke-free since June 15, 2002.
To Ciociola, the difference was the program’s message. “It’s not one of those ‘smoking is bad’ things. It’s more of a positive, ‘How can we help you’ thing,” Ciociola said. “Smokers know it’s bad for them … (Quitting) doesn’t have to be that bad.”
Those looking for a reason to stop smoking could look for help this Thursday, when the Addison County Tobacco Control Roundtable will join with the rest of the nation in recognizing the Great American Smokeout, a day when smokers take a day away from their cigarettes, cigars and pipes.
Ciociola, 52, decided to quit when she began thinking about her son starting a family of his own.
“I didn’t want to be a smoking grandmother,” she said. When she Melanie Clark, program coordinator of the Addison County Tobacco Control Roundtable (and now Ciociola’s daughter-in-law) asked her for advice about the program, she decided to sign up.
She said the program was successful for her partly because it had an intentionally positive message rather than focusing on the many problems caused by smoking. The health effects of smoking are well documented and the messages right on cigarette packages warn that “smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and may complicate pregnancy.
“Smokers know it’s bad for them,” Ciociola said. “Quitting doesn’t have to be that bad.”