Lists of unsafe toys are a staple of the holiday season, but do they have any effect on what goes on the shelves?
Apparently not at the Searcy Wal-Mart, where Buddy Childress of Des Arc took matters into his own hands after recognizing a Dora the Explorer lamp from a report of the Ten Worst Toys of 2007. The list, put out by W.A.T.C.H., a consumer advocacy group, says the lamp carries the potential for electric shock and burn injuries.
According to the Huffington Post, Childress complained to a store manager about the lamp, but the manager said only Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters could pull items. Childress bought one of the store's two remaining lamps with the intention of showing it to local newspaper editors, but then he got a better idea:
"I couldn't keep people from buying the lamp from the Searcy Wal-Mart -- let alone from all the other Wal-Marts in Arkansas and all across the country," Childress figured. "I felt I had to do something that would make a statement and focus attention on this extremely dangerous toy."
Childress dialed 911 on his cell phone, and was connected with the Searcy Police Department. He told the officer who answered the phone where he was, what had happened in the toy department, and that he intended to take the lamp outside the store and destroy it. "He tried to get me not to do it," Childress admits, "but I told him I was going to, and that I'd be waiting outside the store for the police to arrive. I expected to be arrested there, and taken to the police station."
Childress says he took The Dora Explorer Lamp outside the store to the sidewalk. "I destroyed it," he says, "I stomped on it, and then waited for the police to arrive."
Childress was charged with shoplifting, a Class A misdemeanor. A court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13. In the meantime the Dora lamps remain at large — an employee at the Little Rock Wal-Mart on Bowman confirmed that some are still available. That’s just $12.68 for one of the season’s most electrifying items.
We sought a comment from Wal-Mart HQ. No response so far.