How To Burn A (Beta)Brand

Nine years and nine months ago, after a surprise fuel pump failure in Turn Six dropped me out of second place and kept me from getting the authentic Grand-Am podium at Laguna Seca about which I would no doubt still be talking on approximately am hourly basis to this very day, I didn’t go to Disney World: I went to Betabrand. An unassuming door on San Francisco’s Cesar Chavez Street opened after five minutes of knocking to a whirlwind of activity: people running back and forth with patterns, fabrics, random sheets of paper. The floor was covered in scraps of every clothing material one could imagine. I’d expected a retail store but in fact my girlfriend of the time and I had landed in the beating heart of what was then a relatively fledgling operation.

Somehow, after another ten minutes’ worth of conversation with random passers-by, we got assigned a pair of very stereotypical-looking hipsters to help us find some new clothing. The fellow working with me came up with a set of “Japants” in an olive herringbone cloth that I still wear to this day. No two pairs of Japants ever fit alike, because they were cut and sewn individually in another San Francisco warehouse; these were, and are, the best pair I ever got. My girlfriend, who wore an improbable 32FF bra courtesy of modern medical science, wanted to find a “San Francisco dress”. There were no fitting rooms, so she stripped and stood in the middle of the floor while her new companion attempted to tug various seersuckers and florals around her upper body. At one point, while actively molesting her client to at least second base in the course of a fitting, the impromptu salesgirl yelled to me, “I… just… love… her breasts.”

In the years that followed, I wore Betabrand clothes more often that I didn’t. There was the infamous “Golden Disco Hoodie”, a half-dozen “Sons Of Britches” pants in every fabric from plain denim to salmon canvas, the “Sea Monster Cordarounds” I was sporting in 2014 when I managed to fracture nine bones using one simple trick! I adored the company’s inventiveness, their avant-garde designs, and their small-batch efforts. All made in San Francisco. For a while, anyway. In 2014 they used an overseas supplier for shoes, and by the middle of 2018 some new clothing lines were sourced from China. By and large, however, the important stuff was still sewn and stitched in those chaotic Bay Area offices.

Last week I visited the Betabrand website and was shocked (shocked!) to see that the company as I knew it was dead. In its place was a yoga-pants reseller wearing the Betabrand name like, as they say, a skinsuit. How did this happen? Who was the cretin skulking in the shadows, working secretly to destroy one of my favorite clothes companies? What faceless venture capitalist dragged the Betabrand name through the mud?

Duh! It’s 2021. Evil no longer skulks. It brags.

The article is titled VP of Operations Jim Wilson is steering the crowdfunded apparel pioneer to new manufacturing models.

Manufacturing is a handled by contractors. Initially, Lindland relied on small cut-and-sew operations in the Bay Area. “He became very well-connected in the apparel world in San Francisco,” says Wilson. “For a very long time, all of the manufacturing was done domestically.” Production runs were typically 300 units or fewer.
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In 2014, the company started moving manufacturing offshore to facilities in China, Cambodia, and Indonesia. “We started to outgrow our production facilities in San Francisco,” says Wilson. “It was largely based on necessity.”
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At the end of 2017, Betabrand migrated from working directly with factories to contracting a pair of trading companies in Hong Kong, Li & Fung and CFL, to manage the entire supply chain. “We were doing everything on our own,” says Wilson. “We were sourcing fabrics on our own, we were sourcing cutters on our own, we were sourcing sew shops on our own. As a result, we weren’t really important to anybody.”

…except the customers, of course, but who cares about them?

Challenges: “Specifically from a manufacturing standpoint, one of the big ones is around the tariff conversation and how it will affect us,” says Wilson. One solution: Betabrand is increasingly shipping directly to consumers from Hong Kong. Individuals can buy $800 duty-free per day, so the strategy avoids the tariffs that could be applied to containers. “We’ve ramped it up substantially,” says Wilson. “I’m moderately to highly confident, the minimum won’t go away.”
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Opportunities: As sales are currently 97 percent domestic, “Internationalization is something Betabrand is looking at,” says Wilson. “Now that the majority of our inventory is warehoused in Hong Kong, it opens up shipping lanes dramatically.” The goal? “I could see us operating a business that’s 70 percent domestic and 30 percent international in a relatively short period of time. . . . A lot of time it’s just clicking a button that says target South Africa instead of the United States.”

What’s fascinating to me about this is that it represents a rare opportunity to see the decline of a company in real time, accompanied by fawning press. Guitar collectors like your humble author are well-acquainted with the various “comeback stories” of Gibson (the Henry J buyout, opening the custom shop, and so on) and Fender (leaving CBS, returning production to an all-new American factory), but the original-sin decline and fall of those companies is buried in the mists of time and rumor. With Betabrand, I can actually watch it happen. I’ve been around for almost all of it, from SF cut-and-sew operation to moronic cloaca for Chinese yoga pants. And unlike, say, Mary Barra’s well-intentioned but breathtakingly stupid evisceration of General Motors as part of the electic-toy craze, there’s zero idealism here to muddy the waters. This is pure greed and “growth mindset” at work.

Not that there isn’t the usual lack of self-awareness to go with the big dreams. To begin with, why would anyone in other countries be interested in having a Betabrand logo on their Chinese yoga pants, when they can have the same pants with no logo, or with a regionally popular one, for less? Do you think people in the UK, for instance, will skip the “fast fashion” stores to buy Betabrand? Would a Muscovite ignore the new Lululemon store because she can get Betabrand on the Internet? Of course not. When you sell the same trash as everyone else, you need either killer marketing or killer discounts. Betabrand had killer marketing, because they had unique products. Their new marketing? To use the infamous words of the former Mrs. Lange, that don’t impress me much.

Oh, and Jim Wilson has also managed to convince himself that Betabrand is still a San Francisco company:

Needs: “Space is certainly a big one,” says Wilson. “We are virtually at capacity in our office.” A secondary space near the headquarters houses the customer service team; consolidating customer service and other functions in the East Bay might be in the cards.
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“I can’t imagine a scenario where we’d leave the Bay Area,” he adds. “It’s something we’ll need to start thinking about.”

Son, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you already left the Bay Area. The real heart of any company is, very simply, where the product is made. Are there exceptions? Sure. Those factories assembling “CKD” (completely-knocked-down) car kits in the Third World doesn’t exactly represent the heart of Toyota or Mercedes-Benz. Most of the time, however, you can figure out where the company really is by asking the question:

Which parts of the company could you not shut down tomorrow for, say, a year, while still making money?

You could close the Betabrand offices in San Francisco, fulfill the orders directly from Hong Kong per Jim Wilson’s wishes, and nobody would notice for quite some time. Should “Li & Fung” turn off the sewing machines, however, Betabrand would effectively cease to exist. Therefore, Betabrand is nothing more than a branch office for Li & Fung.

(Anecdote: Twenty years ago, Borders Bookstores was given the chance to buy Ingram, which was the big dog in the book-warehouse game. It was also the primary supplier to Amazon. A fellow who wrote for PC Magazine suggested that Borders make that purchase and immediately turn Amazon’s business off. Can you imagine how different, and how much better, the world would be now had the people at Borders possessed the guts to do that? Because at that point Amazon was nothing but a front end.)

The Jim Wilsons of the world think that it doesn’t matter where you make something. They believe that all the value-add, all the mojo, is in the marketing and “leadership”. History has proven them wrong again and again, both in a negative sense — have you looked at the brands of televisions lately? — and in the positive sense — Honda’s decision to make United States manufacturing a priority would eventually see them overtake Nissan on the world stage. Oh, and sometimes the consequences verge on the horrifying; as Cisco has turned into a skinsuit shop run by Indian H1-Bs, it has sought to support bringing the caste discrimination practiced in India to our shores. And why not? Why should a company staffed by Indians and owned by a rootless global elite have to pay attention to something as parochial as American discrimination law?

Well, I’m proud to announce that Riverside Green is not only made in Ohio, it’s been hosted in Ohio for the better part of a year after a six-year stretch in a San Antonio datacenter. No, we don’t have Sea Monster Cordarounds — but we continue to provide the sharpest insight I can manage while continuing to pay my mortgage and feed my pre-teen son. Come on back whenever you like! We aren’t going to change!

69 Replies to “How To Burn A (Beta)Brand”

  1. Widgetsltd

    The Fender custom shop is still in Corona, California. I’ve never been inside the building – I don’t know precisely what they make there – but they are apparently hiring. They have an ad on an electronic billboard in Corona looking for people with various skills and offering a $1000 hiring bonus. You know you wanna build guitars!

    Reply
  2. John Van Stry

    Look at Rickenbacker. They sell EVERY guitar and bass that they make. They could offshore and do the same thing that so many others have done. But last I checked they’re still making them here, and they’re not having any trouble making money.
    I don’t know what it is with these people who think moving to China is going to make them so much richer than they were before. So far I’ve only see it have the opposite effect.
    Honestly, at times I wish Trump had embargoed all chinese products. We’d be better today for it.

    Reply
  3. Ryan

    It’s unfortunate to see what happened to Betabrand. I liked their gimmick, but unfortunately their sizing didn’t cater well to a “midwesterner” such as myself. In ~2015 I bought a silver disco hoodie. At the time, I was wearing an XL “athletic” tee. For the hoodie, nothing less than a 3X would fit in the shoulders/arms.

    Buck Mason pulled the same stunt a few years ago. They started out selling “basics” like pima tees, oxfords in solid colors, and selvedge denim. Over time thei line expanded and they started sourcing everything from overseas.

    When that happened, they lost me as a customer. I’ve since found equivalent shirts from a company here in Detroit called Gettees. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a replacement black oxford to replace those from Buck Mason. They were almost like a USA-made Brooks Brothers shirt but in solid black.

    Reply
  4. stingray65

    The California model: Step 1: import/hire cheap workers from Asia, India, Central America to do all the dirty/physical work in California and pay some of the them California/US mandated wages and benefits (thank goodness we live in a sanctuary state and we don’t need to worry about ICE raids). Step 2: Build up the brand as “California Cool/Hip/Tech” and attract customers from around the world. Step 3: Visibility from all that brand building attracts attention from Investment Bankers, Private Equity players, and Venture Capitalists looking for opportunities who offer help in offshoring various peripheral functions such as design, manufacturing, logistics, and HR to low cost countries to bump up earnings and offer a fabulous growth trajectory to make a big killing in the markets. Step 4: The remaining California based management realizes all the California environmental mandates, diversity mandates, never-ending Covid lockdowns, and ever increasing taxes are sucking away over half their newly increased profits and income, and they announce a move of corporate headquarters to Austin TX or Nashville, TN or Miami FL, with only the founder staying behind (part-time to avoid the taxes) because he can’t bear being away from the nice coastal California weather and vibrant California culture. Step 5: all the unemployed/displaced former workers at the company, and their former boss and all the VC/PE specialists who made billions from the offshoring will vote for Democrats who promise to tax the rich until perfect equity is achieved, increase the minimum wage to $30 per hour plus mandated “free” health insurance, implement more renewable energy mandates that will provide clean electricity for your Tesla up to 15 hours per day 5 days per week, provide free legal services and defense to all illegals, let all criminals out of prison but not lay off any prison guards, give free tents and needles to the homeless and addicted, and provide free gender reassignment surgeries to any child or young adult who feels uncomfortable with their birth gender.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      I was talking to a vendor of mine in California. We’re friendly personally and I know he definitely not a leftist. When I asked him why he continues to operate a business in such a business-unfriendly climate, he said, “The weather is real nice here. This morning I took a bike ride by the ocean.” Understand, this is a man who told me, concerning the left’s lunatic destruction of the country, “If it wasn’t so tragic and sad, it would be absurdly funny.”

      Reply
      • stingray65

        I am going to go out on a limb and guess your vendor friend who thinks the Left’s lunatic policies are destroying the country has never voted to anyone to the political right of Nancy Pelosi.

        Reply
        • Ronnie Schreiber

          I’m pretty sure he voted for Trump. It’s a 2nd generation family business some of whose products are industrial and defense related.

          As crazy as one-party California is today, my guess is that at least 40% of the state is culturally or politically conservative. A lot of folks have family businesses that they can’t just pick up and move to Texas.

          The same situation exists in New York. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Louis Rossmann or not. He runs a successful computer and phone repair shop in Manhattan, specializing in Apple products because of Apple’s poor engineering and poor customer service. He has a YouTube channel with over a million subscribers. He absolutely hates New York City but he has a staff of about a dozen people that he’s vetted and do very good work. He can’t expect them to move with him to a different state, and starting over from scratch and finding talent in that new state is going to be timeconsuming.

          Reply
  5. JMcG

    I’m too deep in mourning over what’s become of Filson the last ten or fifteen years to spare any grief for Betabrand.
    See also the indignation with which Triumph motorcycles receives any criticism of the fact that most of their bikes are produced in Thailand and Brazil.

    Reply
    • Panzer

      In fairness, they still have a factory in Hinckley in the UK, where they make Shortblocks and paint panels as well as make low volume stuff. But yeah, it is true a bast majority of production is outside the UK.

      Reply
  6. hank chinaski

    “….the problem with Capitalism, is capitalists.”

    Require a 300% ‘environmental’ tax stamp on every barrel of Bunker C, each one with Greta Thunberg’s face on it, and this problem may largely go away, on the goods side anyway. They will still import the scabs of course.

    Reply
    • CJinSD

      There’s a difference between rent-seekers in a fascist system and capitalists. Capitalism is just a word for freedom used by people who seek to convince you to forfeit it.

      Reply
    • yossarian

      i’d be all for taxing the crap out of bunker c. not only would it bring back american manufacturing jobs but it would do more to eliminate pollution than any form of carbon tax.

      Reply
  7. Nicholas

    Jack,

    Any suggestions for USA-made underwear? Preferably boxer briefs.

    Thanks for recommending Gustin a few years ago, I’ve replaced a good bit of my wardrobe with their stuff.

    Reply
  8. Tom Klockau

    “We decided to F over our employees and customers and are now basically flipping garbage to suckers! Buy our slave-labor schlock! Quick, before we croak in eighteen months!”

    As Dr. Evil would say, pretty standard, really…

    Reply
  9. dejal

    I go to their web page. One of the images from the waist down is Plus Sizes. See a black arm. POC, yo!!!

    The only non-chinese thing probably on their web pages are the models. There’s no guarantee all of them are from the US either. Might be cheaper to ship stuff to the Ukraine and use locals for many of the photos.

    One page has some women yapping about animals. A Brit. As far as “HK”, everyone knows that a dodge. HK is nothing but CCP China Light these days. And “Light” is getting darker every day.

    Reply
  10. MD Streeter

    Small unique companies always lose their neatness when they expand, and Betabrand seems to be just more evidence of it. I wonder if there are any small companies that kept their uniqueness when they got bigger. Chasing volume always makes them less than what they were.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      See BMW as a case study. Every new model since the 2002 was replaced in 1976 has been criticized as too soft, too heavy, too luxurious, and too expensive compared to the previous generation, and clearly targeting yuppie badge snobs who don’t even know how to shift a manual transmission rather than the 10,000 true believers who bought the spartan little sport sedans back in the early 70s.

      Reply
      • MD Streeter

        I was thinking about BMW, although I only really have any experience with the brand as a dealership porter circa 2000. I remember the last of the 90s models being replaced by the Bangle models of the 2000s and all the electronics they came ladened with. Of course, they made a lot more money from those, the hideous E65 sold in numbers the classically good-looking E38 could never match. It’s interesting to stretch the idea all the way back to the 2002.

        Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        I was at an auction and there was a 2002 sitting right next to a 356 and I wrote a piece wondering if today’s BMW or Porsche owners would be happy with those cars.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Most modern BMW and Porsche owners wouldn’t know what that 3rd pedal and wiggly stick between the seats do or how to use them. They would also be wondering why their iPhone doesn’t connect wirelessly to the also missing infotainment system. And if they managed to figure out how to start the 2002/356 by turning a real key they would wonder how to release the parking brake that was obviously dragging because the acceleration was so slow.

          Reply
  11. jwinks6500

    I just bought a Made in Canada Godin hollowbody because the price was in my allotted budget and it not Made in China. It’s high quality, beautiful, and superior to the Chinese stuff for not much more. If you can’t afford American it’s a great alternative.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I’ve been playing Godins for over a decade and currently have three of their Synth Access guitars. In years past I’ve given Seagulls as gifts.

      Reply
      • jwinks6500

        Cool! They weren’t on my radar until very recently. I will definitely get another one, I’m very impressed with them.

        Reply
  12. Sigivald

    “In 2014, the company started moving manufacturing offshore to facilities in China, Cambodia, and Indonesia. “We started to outgrow our production facilities in San Francisco,” says Wilson. “It was largely based on necessity.”

    Nobody bothered to tell him that you can manufacture things in America without doing it in San Francisco, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country?

    Yeah, no. They didn’t “have to” move to China and SE Asia for production because they “outgrew SF”.

    They wanted to because it was – in the short term – far more profitable than, say, running it themselves in some Icky Unpleasant Flyover Place like Oklahoma City or Salt Lake or Plano or whatever.

    Even if the HQ remained in Glorious SF, muckety-mucks would have to VISIT red-state places, after all, and ewwww.

    Obviously outsourcing to China and Indonesia is better – you get to do travel junkets!

    Reply
    • Keith

      The Chinese make this sort of ultra easy to setup. And hands off I’m sure. A very inviting open for business mentality.

      We should definitely work on recreating that as much as possible.

      Reply
      • JFCT

        These trading firms like Li&Fung make it beyond easy – all you need is basically a design up front and a sales channel to sell the finished product, and they can provide everything in between.

        Unfortunately the talent/knowledge base in this country for making clothing at scale is slowly being strangled by these firms and decisions to contract out overseas versus scaling up your own operation here. The reason why a lot of these small brands can startup in a New York or San Francisco is that there’s still a large chunk of the skilled labor base that can sew the goods since “sample rooms” for a lot of the bigger names still exist in these cities.

        Mass production on the other hand becomes a bigger headache because the infrastructure is not all there and the company would need to take a risk owning it, building up a supply chain and workforce and that’s not something that looks good to a PE firm who just cares about the “brand” and what they can pump out of it with some more advertising/marketing dollars.

        Reply
    • Will

      They don’t have the factories in Oklahoma to do it. You have to have the capability first and secondly, they have to be able to make it to your standards. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find capable manufacturers’ that are capable for a variety of goods.

      Reply
      • Jack Baruth Post author

        As far as I can tell, not a single one of the primary petitioners has ever accomplished anything worthwhile for Free Software.

        Reply
          • dejal

            My bet is take it over, change the licensing maybe for just new entities going forward to include restrictions based on what they are bitching about. Then play “Gotcha” when a license holder isn’t socially correct.

  13. hank chinaski

    Even more OT:
    Ronnie, skipping ‘Candy-O’ in your listicle?!? There’s a Ferrari under that redhead….somewhere, I think.
    .
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    I’ll be in my bunk.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      I was trying to keep the list short. If I had my druthers, I would have included Hot Tuna’s Burgers, Little Feat’s Feats Don’t Fail Me Know, and Detroit w/ Mitch Ryder.

      Reply
  14. hank chinaski

    I was thinking Stingray as well, but (caveat) Wiki states ‘365 GTC’, and based on a real dealership photoshoot. Also interesting, said model (Candy Moore, natch) played the on screen daughter in ‘I Love Lucy’.

    Reply
  15. Wi Tu Lo, Co-Pilot

    Muchos gracias for the Union House tip.

    Won a bar bet or two with an “hooray for the USA” blowhard drunk, with “bet ya I’m only the only person with shoes made in America in this dump” with Red Wing Postman’s Oxfords, my work shoe.

    Is that a typo Sir? “electic-toy” ?

    Reply
  16. JKC

    Hey Jack,

    FWIW, I’m probably at the opposite end of the political spectrum from you on most subjects, but I want to tell you that on this subject you and I are 100% in agreement.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Well thank you for reading and participating despite our opposition. That’s the most American thing we can do!

      Reply
      • JKC

        You’ve always been civil to those who’ve extended you the same courtesy. Plus you’re a damned fine writer, and I’ve been reading you since your TTAC days.

        I’m as fashionable as a rock, but I’m sorry to hear that yet another American apparel company has crossed over to the dark side. The hollowing out of American manufacturing is one of the great tragedies of the 20th century.

        Reply
  17. Burgersandbeer

    I worry about Allen Edmonds heading in a similar direction.

    It looks like they’ve abandoned QA, run sales so often you would be a moron (or really need shoes NOW) to pay msrp, and an increasing number of shoes are imported. Even with shoes they claim come from Wisconsin, it sounds like they are just attaching the soles to imported uppers.

    They are still better than most of the industry when it comes to domestic manufacturing, but they are moving in the wrong direction.

    Reply
    • JMcG

      I had just read their wiki entry today. They’ve become a football for venture capitalists. All their uppers are sewn in the Dominican, then shipped to Wisconsin for assembly. The Filson playbook all over again.
      I guess I’ll have to find another dress shoe brand.

      Reply
      • JFCT

        I’ve been moving to Rancourt (based in Maine) for all my pseudo dress casual shoes (boat shoes, camp Mocs, etc), and my next round of dress shoes will likely come from them seeing what the new Allen Edmunds stuff is looking like.

        They have infrequent coupons (10-15%) for regular customers, and will do “pre-order” rounds at a small discount for different models.

        Reply
  18. CliffG

    If you want to make foreign trade a lot more interesting cancel the US Navy. When it gets more exciting to send a freighter over the open seas it gets a tad bit more expensive. The Chinese Navy might protect Chinese ships but Vietnam is on their own. A while back I was talking to a local furniture manufacturer and he related a story about a recent furniture expo at which a Chinese gentleman suggested he fire all of his workers and shut down his factory because they would make the furniture for him and he could just stamp his brand on it. Very profitable in the short term, but he told them to essentially FOAD. Luckily for his workers he had not attended a name brand MBA factory…..

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Given that the current US Navy has trouble not running into fishing vessels, I cannot imagine it will be too long before the Chinese call the shots in the Pacific.

      Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        From the current woke effort to root out “extremism” in the ranks, it’s clear that the ship collisions and fires are emblematic of systemic rot in the armed forces. To get to be a colonel you have to be able to suck up to your superiors and if you’re a flag officer you’re sensitive to the winds of political changes in Washington. I just saw a clip with an Air Force general saying that in pilot training they will no longer give weight to recruits with private pilots’ licenses as that is a socio-economic factor and hinders diversity.

        Meanwhile, we had another episode of the Emperor’s New Clothes on Thursday afternoon in Washington. How anyone who has any experience with a cognitively impaired senior can deny that Joe Biden’s deck is missing a few face cards is beyond me. Cognitive dissonance in action.

        Simply put, we’re fucked.

        Reply
  19. ScottS

    The idea of a skin suite applies to companies like this https://wesn.com/ that wear the “Detroit” skin suit. Guile, hubris, and that special contempt for the customer are common attributes of these con artists playing on the idea of making goods in the once great American industrial cities while while doing everything possible to conceal the fact that their products are actually made in China. This one is called Billy Chester. Like John Paul once said to me, “_uck them with a rusty knife”.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      They say they are “Detroit-based” but I can’t find a mailing address anywhere so who knows what that means? I was born in Detroit, so is anything I create ultimately Detroit-based, whether or not I do it within the city limits of Detroit?

      Hell, I don’t even say that the Harmonicaster is “made in Detroit.” I say it’s “*Made in the Motor City” because I’m about 2.5 miles north of the city limits.

      *With American and imported components.

      Reply
      • ScottS

        Although I would like to be, it is difficult to be a Made in America purist. I’m embarrassed to say I got sucked into the WESN Henry knife Kick Starter project by a friend who’s judgement I trusted. The promotion of this knife played heavily on the Detriot theme and American materials. Use of term “Cherry Wood” should have need a clue. Why does one need to identify the cherry as wood in the context of describing a knife? This is common error of marketing people who have no real connection to the products they are hyping.

        Way too many businesses today make it very difficult to contact them and to know the physical location of the operation. This is a strategy and is usually a good indicator of how the customer support experience will go should you be in the unfortunate position to need it.

        You certainly have more right to the “Made in Detroit” claim than WESN. Regarding the imported components in the Harmonicaster, is this a case of not having reasonable/suitable components that are made in the U.S.? I’m not a musician by any stretch of the imagination, but that is a pretty cool product.

        Reply
        • Ronnie Schreiber

          I emailed WESN and asked where their headquarters are and they told me Detroit and Sweden. My guess is at most they’re renting a small office somewhere in the city but management is located in Europe.

          It’s almost impossible to make something 100% in the U.S. unless you’re talking about something simple like my hardwood walking stick. I try to avoid buying Chinese goods when possible.

          The harmonica components I use are made in Klingenthal, Germany by Seydel, the oldest harmonica company in the world, since 1847. Seydel is the only major harmonica maker that uses steel reeds and the Harmonicaster is based on magnetic pickups so they’re pretty much my only choice. They’ve been very accommodating.

          The pickup blanks are laser cut from aluminum by SendCutSend.com, in Reno, Nevada. I don’t know where they source their aluminum. The magnets come from Adams Magnetic in suburban Chicago and I believe they’re produced domestically. The pickup secondary coils are made in California by Lace, who also add them.

          The printed circuit board for the volume/tone controls comes from China because that’s where the engineer that I hired to design them ordered the prototypes. The individual electronic components come from wherever they’re made. I believe the potentiometers come from Taiwan and the capacitors and resistors are Japanese.

          I do use Chinese made filament in my 3D printers as the eSun brand prints very well, however I may switch some parts to some Canadian made filament which seems to print even better.

          I use a lot of small hardware, like 0-80 and 2mm machine screws, and while I generally try to buy my hardware locally at Motor City Fastener, some gets bought online and undoubtedly comes from Asia.

          Reply
  20. Jim

    Yep, offshoring sucks, but it’s nice to see footage of that cargo ship stuck in the Suez canal right now.

    32FF???? What was that like? What are the practical implications? Even though I’m a dude, my back hurts just thinking about it.

    Reply
  21. Ronnie Schreiber

    A few years back I spoke to Ken Haas, who runs Reverend guitars. It was right around the time they were switching guitar production to Korea and he insisted that at the price point of their guitars ($700-$1,200 at the time) and the volume they were doing, it was hard to compete making the guitars in the U.S.

    A lot of consumers simply don’t care where things are made and companies have realized this, so they’re starting to stop discounting the prices of things made in China. A little more than 20 years ago Steve Ridinger revived the Danelectro brand by being the first company to make guitar pedals in China. They practically invented the concept of inexpensive pedals, and still sell some of those for $30. Their most recent pedals, though, retail for $150-$200, the same as you’d pay for a pedal made in the U.S., Japan, or Europe.

    Reply
    • JMcG

      I was getting fitted for a pair of RedWing lineman’s boots around twenty years ago. The store manager was on his knees, scraping the Made in USA sticker from the window with a razor blade. I asked him why he was doing that. He replied that they no longer had exclusively American-made content and that corporate had mandated removal of the stickers.
      At that time, a pair of lineman’s boots that was made in the USA cost 249.00. The chinesium pair? 229.00. I can only imagine the profit margin on those.

      Reply
  22. Jeff Weimer

    TBH, I don’t recommend right-leaning folks to leave blue states or jurisdictions. I think right-leaning folks should move *to* those areas in order to change them politically into what they want much like the left has done. Their tactic is every much as valid for anyone.

    It will take a long time, but once you get cultural and political power, there’s a lot of good that can be accomplished. (Which, I know is *exactly* the justification the left uses. They’re not wrong there, it’s just the idea of “good” is different.)

    Reply
    • Panzer

      There aren’t enough of us bro. For every conservative who subjects themselves to the misery of living in a blue state for the cause, the democrats can import two latinos to keep on the plantation for votes.
      It’s a rigged game.
      Best not to play.
      Better to for conservatives to go to red states to consolidate republican power there, to make it impossible for the left to take over anymore states and gain anymore power than what they already have.
      And when the time comes, we will thus have our bases and sanctuaries.

      Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      Perhaps it would do the most good to get involved in your local school district so you can fight the inclusion of Critical Race Theory and Social Justice in the schools’ curricula.

      Reply
      • Jeff Weimer

        That would be where the rubber meets the road; politics is downstream from culture, and the school board is where those two meet.

        Reply

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