I just stopped into a delightful little shop in my community that was overflowing with retro, cowboy, antique reproductions all being sold at what the shop proclaims as ‘warehouse prices.” And there were a large number of shoppers visiting the store.
As I wandered through the cute little displays and looked at the prices, I was impressed. And THEN I turned over a piece that looked interesting and saw the label “MADE IN CHINA’ on the back. Interesting, I thought to myself as I turned over piece after piece and saw the same label. This was a shop filled with what had to be a container load of reproductions of early American arts and crafts — all MADE IN CHINA. The prices weren’t warehouse prices at all. They were outsourced products using cheap Chinese labor to resell in the USA as reproductions.
What’s wrong with that? you may be wondering. And you’re right. We’ve become so accustomed to our large corporations closing down US factories and sending the jobs to countries where people will work for pennies that it’s commonplace. We would be upset if we had to pay the prices required to support American workers.
WalMart started the trend back in the ’80s when they ripped off new designs made by American crafters and had them copied in China to be sold at prices less than what the American crafter made for materials. They were no longer the “Made in the USA” store that they had advertised earlier. I’m not sure why but within the past year or so they have tried to put the “Made in China” reputation behind them and become a carbon copy of Target stores. But I will always think of Walmart as the company that tried to put American crafters out of business.
And now we have in my community, and in many other communities as well, a whole store that is “Made in China” pretending to be retro America. Is this fraud? Of course not. There’s nothing hidden. There’s no deceit. The labels, showing the country of origin, are on all the products that I looked at. And it’s up to each of us to decide whether we want to support American or Chinese labor with our dollars.
I admit to buying stuff that is not made in the US–probably a lot of stuff. After all, we do live in a global economy and hopefully a few of the Chinese and Indonesian labors occasionally buy something made in the US. But a whole store — filled with nothing but Chinese knock-offs was too much for my stomach today. I walked out, came home and went online, and actually found some legitimate MADE IN THE USA HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS on Etsy and Artfire.