Made In The USA: Shinola x General Electric

“Can’t believe that you, of all people, buy into the Shinola hype.” That’s what a commenter wrote on my Instagram page yesterday. I think that’s a compliment. And while my opinion on Shinola is, I hope, reasonably hype-free, I also can’t say that I’m immune to the brand’s charms.

I stopped by their Ann Arbor store late last night. This is, it has to be said, a profoundly satisfying place. The ground floor is designed around a selection of natural materials and carefully spot-lit to cast a flattering glow on everything from their boxes of traditional wooden pencils (that I bought for my son) to the handsome Runwell, Bixby, and Detroit Arrow bicycles.

The basement, reached down a set of wrought-iron-and-rough-wood stairs, is an authentic marvel. Brick-lined, with a fourteen-foot ceiling and that same careful accent lightning. A gloss-red bicycle sits between small, private alcoves for conversation. There’s a bar, tended during my visit by a painfully earnest and ruggedly handsome beard-and-suspenders fellow who cleaned glasses with the precise amount of vintage, authentic effort displayed by the android bartender in Passengers, where you can buy soda and baked goods. Beneath another soft spotlight, there’s a pair of bookshelf speakers and a selection of usual-suspect records (What’s Going On, Rubber Soul, Physical Graffiti, that sort of thing) for you to play on their stunning new Shinola (by VPI) turntable. A great place to write a novel, meet your future wife, or just relax with a made-in-Detroit Shinola soda. At only $1.00, the twelve-ounce glass-bottled cola is probably the only genuine deal the brand offers.

Everywhere you look, you are gently confronted by the deft touch of people who are genuine masters of the visual language. I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of self-consciously upscale boutiques and locations — Loro Piana off the Miracle Mile, anyone? The pocket-sized, 170-room Ritz-Carlton Wolsfburg? Solage, in Calistoga? — but Shinola has them all whipped for love at first sight. And if the brand’s message isn’t always crystal-clear and completely supported by the facts, surely it is a thousand times better than the utterly facile and insincere site design of a Ruehl or any of the other fake-ass luxury brands that peddle sweatshop goods marked up by nine hundred percent to profoundly ignorant stay-at-home ladies-who-lunch.

As educated, aware adults, of course we have to be able to look beyond the veneer of things into the reality. I’ve written in the past that the Shinola brand offers an outstanding path to production and sales for American craftsmen and small businesses. The “Shinola x General Electric” stuff is an excellent example of this. Who would spend $175 for an American-made extension cord, besides an utter idiot? Well, I did, last night, and I try not to be an utter idiot. In fact, I can easily make the case for it. This is something that you will use a lot, something that needs to last forever and be dependable. And in the open-plan, low-mass interior design of $THE_CURRENT_YEAR, your extension cords might actually be visible to visitors. Why not have something nice, and something that promotes employment and dignity for American workers?

This extension cord that has two brands on it — Shinola and General Electric — is the actual product of neither. It’s made by Byrne Electrical, an existing Michigan-based electric-equipment manufacturer. Byrne opened a thirty-person satellite factory to make these plugs. There’s no detailed catalogue of parts sources to be had on this plug, but after researching Byrne a bit I’ve concluded that they have the capability to make everything but the USB ports in-house. I worked with a supplier like this when I did my first stint at Honda in 2006; they can be remarkably ingenious people.

I like the “lean and agile” manner in which this effort was put together. There’s a bit of genius to it:

  • Bryne hires people who did this sort of work for the automakers pre-NAFTA;
  • They use some cheap space abandoned by those same automakers;
  • Shinola licenses the General Electric brand for extra vintage-Americana mojo, probably for pennies per product;
  • And they use the existing Shinola boutiques and web space to sell them to people who are already sold on the idea of paying more for an American-made item.

At no point does anybody invest $100 million or list an IPO or start an independent marketing campaign. Yet the product is selling pretty well.

As you’d expect for $175, everything about the extension cord is first-rate. I particularly like the combination of 120v plugs for my three laptops and the USB plug for my phone. Only one problem: I bought the wrong one. I thought I was getting the orange five-plug model, to match the orange Natuzzi recliner I use to write in the evenings, but I accidentally grabbed the black one. So I’m going to buy the orange one as well and move the black one to my music room.

There’s something more than faintly risible about the idea of a hyper-expensive extension cord, but the truth is that the market has already accepted the idea of monstrously-expensive versions of everyday items. It’s just that most of them are still made by sweatshops in China, with the markup going to somebody’s social-media team and somebody else’s NetJet share. I’d like to live in a world where this extension cord is in Home Depots with Byrne branding and a $49 price tag, but as I said before, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

And if you want a free generic extension “octopus plug” with a flickering power light and a bad fifth port, I’ve got one to give away!

76 Replies to “Made In The USA: Shinola x General Electric”

  1. TheMook

    Another great read! Thanks.

    If your still in town tonight, Laith Al Saadi is playing a 7pm show at the Blind Pig.

    He’s quite possibly the best guitar based musician Michigan has to offer at the moment.

    Hope to see there!

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Unfortunately, I was just there long enough to make a couple of pitches to R&T management. But you might see Ronnie there…

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          Not to destroy your carefully-curated image of Reb Schreiber, but he’s out every Friday and Saturday night until 2am or later. The Detroit blues community has a lot of love for the man. You might laugh at his harmonica project but he’s developed and patented a unique music instrument that will be made right here in the United States using engineering blueprints that he conceived from scratch.

          Last time I saw him, he had real money in his pocket and two different dates lined up for the weekend. With the various connections he’s made and cultivated up there over the past half-decade, I’m starting to get the feeling that he could have somebody killed in Detroit if it amused him to do it. You might want to hold off on the ruin-porn tourist trip, y’know?

          His children and grandchildren are successful. He follows the Law and is secure in his existence. You might find his old-school Jewish appearance and conduct worthy of contempt or derision but you’d be a fool to feel superior to him just because you’ve had better luck in your life than he’d had in his.

          • VoGo

            OK OK OK, Jack,
            Easy felluh. I was just surprised that someone who claims to be such a devout Jew would violate the Sabbath by going out on a Friday night. It’s nice to see you stick up for a friend.

            For whatever reason, Ronnie has had a hard-on for me for the last few years. I have certainly returned fire. And while I have little interest reading his Israeli politics, I do enjoy what he writes about cars, and have been consistently complementary of that work.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            He’s not Orthodox… doesn’t have to be in by sundown.

            Ronnie takes things seriously. It’s a blessing and a curse. On one hand, very few people in the business have his capacity for original research. But on the other hand, he approaches arguments with online anonymities they way he’d approach an argument in a university class. It’s a burden to him.

          • VoGo

            That is helpful. I really have no beef with Ronnie.

            Your brother on the other hand… should I apologize for getting him canned yesterday? I feel bad.

          • Bark M

            I’m sure you’re just trolling for a response, because you’re a sad, pathetic man with nothing better to do than get a little tingle up your leg every time that you see I’ve replied to you.

            Allow me to be crystal clear. Neither you, nor anybody else, got me “canned.” You are nobody. You create nothing. You are the critic in the arena. You’re a grown man who comes to my personal blog to read things you don’t like. How sad an existence that must be.

            Therefore, the only apologies here should be the opposite direction. I’m sorry that you are so obsessed with me and such a poor student of life that you think your first-year graduate student level trolling would have anything at all to do with my decision to walk away from an online publication where I was, by far, the most highly read author. I’m sorry to disappoint you and return you to the reality of your existence where nobody even notices you.

          • rwb


            VoGo’s persona on the internet is a caricature of a neo-liberal. If his claims about himself are close to accurate, he just likes watching you work yourself up. Personally, I’ve always compared people who enjoy making other people angry to those who torture small animals. It’s a problem.

            But, you directly insult vast swaths of people while painting with a very broad brush, and you either are pretending to not know that you are doing so, or you are not aware that you’re declaring your enemies. Personally, I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the former.

            To not expect those who hold opinions you declare worthless to respond in kind is naive; to not recognize and understand why they’re angry at you is delusional.

          • Ronnie Schreiber

            A few corrections for accuracy:

            I’m nowhere near an 100% observant Jew and I’ve never claimed to be devout. I’m certainly no Torah scholar. At the most I’d say that I’m serious about Judaism. I’d like to fight with God less, and I will have much to account for. Still, I don’t generally go out on Friday nights. FWIW, while going to a concert might not be in the spirit of the day of rest, it’s quite possible to attend a musical performance on Friday night or Saturday without violating any halacha (Jewish law).

            VoGo is a typical liberal American Jew who thinks he knows everything there is to know about Judaism. In reality, about 75% of American Jewish adults have a second grade level appreciation of their own heritage. They go to part-time, afternoon or Sunday Hebrew schools, maybe 2 or 3 hours a week, and quit when they’re 13. In classroom hours, that’s the middle of second grade.

            With free open jams hosted by talented people almost every night of the week around Detroit I can hear plenty of live music without “rolling on Shabbos”. Also, I may be an insomniac night owl but I’m usually home by 1AM. The last time I was at the Blind Pig was decades ago with my ex, to see Mitch Ryder. He did a version of The Doors’ Soul Kitchen that Jim Morrison couldn’t have touched. A guy I went to high school with, Ricky Schein, was his guitar player.

            Many folks in the blues community here have been very gracious to me and have made me feel accepted, and when I show up at a club with my tweed Fender harmonica case I have to beg off when people think I’m there to play (Leo Fender couldn’t play guitar). However, in general I piss off enough people that I’m sure some folks aren’t my friends, but I try to be cordial to everyone.

            I will say that local harmonica players have been generous with their time and true constructive criticism, as have some world-class players like Peter Ruth, Jason Ricci, and Brendan Power (who is also a fellow inventor – he was the one who suggested that I get a laser cutter for my gaskets).

            The Harmonicaster electric harmonica is patent pending, not yet patented. I’m hoping to have things in place in time to rent a small booth at the summer NAMM show in Nashville in July and also do something at the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of Harmonica (SPAH) convention in August. I haven’t yet decided if I want to go the IndieGoGo route or the traditional means of financing a business startup with my credit cards.

            I’ll make the first production models in my dining room but if I can sell the 20-50 a week that I’m hoping for, I’ll rent some space south of Eight Mile Rd and hire some employees to do assembly so I can say that it’s Made in Detroit. To ramp up production with printed parts (it’s a very slow process) you just add more machines. Jo Prusa, the guy whose open source printer design is the most popular 3D printer in the world, has a printer farm with 200 of his own machines, making parts for his own machines. Even at ~$800 (plus shipping and customs) a machine it’s cheaper than having to buy injection molds – besides, I can print lighter weight parts that are effectively as strong as molded parts, and 3D printing is a modern process with some cachet.

            My Prusa 3D printer arrived from Prague early in the month and I’ve been spending time learning how to use the machine and slicing software. It took me a while to find an ABS filament that would successfully print with my biggest, most complicated part, but at this point I know that I can print everything that needs to be printed. I have a cheap Chinese laser engraver/cutter kit ordered that should arrive any day now, and bought some software from an American hobbyist who’s figured out how to make the hardware actually work reliably.

            Higher level management at Seydel, the oldest harmonica company in the world, and at Lace Music, the folks who make Eric Clapton’s guitar pickups, are working with me and enthusiastic about the project.

            My children and grandchildren are, thanks God, healthy. Everything else is gravy.

          • VoGo

            Thanks for the frank update. I wish you the best with the instrument, ladies and other endeavors. I wish you would stop making incorrect assumptions about my religious outlook, but I respect your right to do so.

            And I call you Mark because I think it’s time you started branding consistently with your own name. I also wish you the best. You often have interesting insights about the business, and I have enjoyed much of what you’ve written. It appears I’ve angered you; I hope that is because we’ve disagreed, and not because I’ve insulted. But if I have insulted you, I am sorry.

            I remain amused that TTAC lists you on its masthead as an ‘advice columnist.’

          • Mike

            Vogo – a couple of corrections before you try and alter the past. You have not been complimentary of Ronnie’s car work, you have called his 3D site a joke, or words to that effect. Second you say to Mark sorry if I have insulted you, I never meant to when you have personally attacked him (even if it was in response to him starting it, which isn’t a given) on this site on the past few days and on TTAC.
            Please stop lying.

          • Mike

            Vogo – I have looked back on your comments on both sites – you have made fun of his embroidery business and his 3D car website.
            I note you didn`t respond to the second comment about Mark – you like to dodge and only partially respond to comments when you know you are not supported by the facts.

            You make some good comments, but a lot of the time you are trolling and as others have mentioned you do seem to like to follow Mark (and others) and make snippy comments. I am really surprised you come onto this site.

          • Cdotson


            Good luck with your manufacturing venture. I know 3d printing may have cachet in some circles, but even the best prints from a home level machine can’t hold a candle to the finish quality available from prototype level injection molds. As you ramp up look into epoxy molds. They survive a few hundred to a few thousand parts but cost a fraction of even aluminum tools and still don’t require post processing like 3d prints.

          • Ronnie Schreiber


            “I know 3d printing may have cachet in some circles, but even the best prints from a home level machine can’t hold a candle to the finish quality available from prototype level injection molds.”

            Thanks for the advice. I’m a babe in the woods on so many aspects of this project I can use all the advice I can get.

            While the Prusa may not be a Stratasys, it’s a professional quality printer, with resolution down to 50 microns. I realize that surface quality will always be an issue but in one important criterium the printed parts are better parts. Weight is an issue since I don’t want to be significantly heavier than a Hohner Special 20 harp with a Shure Green Bullet microphone. Injection molded parts will be solid all the way through, and heavy whereas printed parts can be mostly hollow. There is solid plastic where I need bosses and such, but I print my parts with 7 layers on the top & bottom, 3 perimeter layers and a 20% infill. The infill is some kind of honeycomb or lattice so with the exterior shell it ends up being rigid and strong. I can’t think of any engineering plastic that would end up weighing less when molded – maybe structural foam but that also has surface finish issues.

            Also, I think that with the production figures I’m hoping for even prototype molds would be more expensive than setting up a small print farm.

  2. mcarr

    Well, I’ll say it, $175 for an extension cord is ridiculous when you can get a similar product for $15. I’m all for American made, but it has to be a reasonable premium over an existing product, and/or provide similar/better quality or functionality or *gasp* authenticity. This is the Hublot of extension cords.

    I’ll happily buy Shinola watches, though.

  3. AoLetsGo

    That is a sweet store and they also pay top dollar for a prime location in downtown AA.
    You are probably way ahead of me on this but have you checked out Silca products? Since your getting back into biking and your penchant for supporting superior USA products it would be good fit. I would love this bike pump but the $500 price tag has held me back, funny that the $1,200 versions are sold out!

    • fvfvsix

      I have an older verson of the Silca Superpista. I bought it a few years ago, and I’m certain that I didn’t pay $235 for it. It is a really nice pump, but has a really simple construction. It’s supposed to be rebuild-able, but I haven’t had to maintain it thus far. If I had to do it again, I’d buy a Lezyne Floor drive.

  4. Watchseeker

    I don’t understand all the hate heaped upon Shinola.
    Do they make a great watch for the money? nope. But they are assembling the watch here, providing jobs that pay a living wage, and if the owners make some money, then good for them.
    If I had the extra money, I would pick one up. I particularly like the looks of the Runwell and the Guardian.
    I’ve never felt that the misrepresent their product. I know the difference be manufactured and assembled.
    Who are they hurting? Nobody. Who are they helping? Quite a few.
    So, why the hate?

  5. Mason

    I’ll stick with my army of Tripp Lite Isobars but I’m also not opposed to buying for something that (should) last forever.

  6. Eric H

    You know what it’s missing? UL certification.
    From the pictures I can find no UL mark or mention.
    Good luck with your insurance if your house burns down.

      • dumas

        I’m glad to see that information, too. I’ve been reading “Poorly Made in China”, and have begun to become a bit suspicious of the various power cables floating around my house as a result- certification notwithstanding.

      • Deadweight

        It’s one thing to want to see and buy high quality, extremely well-made, U.S. produced goods/products.

        It’s another thing to throw all rationality and intellect out the window and pretend that a $150 extension cord is “going to make America great again,” no matter how well-made it is.

        This is a fashion statement more so that an actual, useful product with great utility.

        It might as well be lacquered in red, white and blue, striped & starred, and mounted on a conservative plaque, to be hung conspicuously above the fireplace, with the number of production run branded on it with hickory-scented ink and the quality control inspector signing their name to it in gold flake.

        If one extrapolated from this and had to to furnish their home, office, garage, toolshed, and wardrobe with Shinola -branded/marketed goods, it would require an annual income of $888,888 to sustain a remotely middle class lifestyle.

        Shinola is so lame. It’s turned into an over-hyped, nauseating marketing/branding company.

        Sorry if the truth hurts some delicate sensitivities of those on the right, left or in the center; if the U.S. Economy actually followed the Shinola pricing model, we’d have essentially no exports, and all but the extremely wealthy would beg in the streets.

        I’m off to buy some excellent quality, UL Certified, $18 extension cord now, regardless as to country of origin.

        I may even pick up metal hardware/brackets for some interior shelving, too.

        Does Shinola make those, and if so, are they also 8x the price of high quality competitors’ products?

        (But what’s the point? No one can see the Shinola name on the inside of the cabinets)

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          “If one extrapolated from this and had to to furnish their home, office, garage, toolshed, and wardrobe with Shinola -branded/marketed goods, it would require an annual income of $888,888 to sustain a remotely middle class lifestyle.”

          Obviously Shinola doesn’t make all that stuff, but I do make a conscious effort to buy American everywhere, and I don’t earn anything like $888,888 a year. Would be nice though.

          • Deadweight

            You should obviously be able to tell I’m not knocking you, Jack.

            I can appreciate and even share your desire to purchase American p-made foods/products as a means to sustain and create new American jobs, particularly for the increasingly pressured class formerly known as “middle.”

            It is my opinion that Shinola is symbolic over substance, towards this end, however, and even worse, their entire marketing and retail model is actually set up to capture the hipster and sentimental $$$, and it’s a fake, not real, company.

            I would bet quite a bit of shinola that the extension cord you purchased cost Shinola no more than $10 to make, package, ship and otherwise distribute, and $15 extension cords available at Home Depot are every bit as reliable.

            Thus, I say Shinola really is fashion over substance.

            They almost dare people to criticize their “American Pride” image.

          • Deadweight

            My first comment above should read:

            “…mounted on a commemorative plaque…” NOT “…..conservative one…”

            That was a pure typo from this libertarian-leaning individual.

  7. Kevin Jaeger

    I stopped at the Shinola store in midtown on Monday and enjoyed an espresso for about $2, so there’s maybe more than one deal to be found there. And I’ll certainly agree that they’ve done a fabulous job at making the retail experience a fabulous place for the upscale shopper.

    But the prices? Sorry, I ain’t paying $175 for a branded extension cord. Just no.

    I crossed the street for a few pints at the Motor City brewing works, though. Great quality and excellent value can be found there.

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      I stopped in at the Shinola store in midtown Detroit on my way home one day during the NAIAS to check out their turntable. While I was there I decided to check out Jack White’s store just down the street (they sell turntables too). Can you imagine opening up a store that’s essentially a tribute to yourself? Well, I guess a lot of businesses are that but 3rd Man Records is kinda blatant about it. On my way back to the car I stopped in at another store on Canfield, Pilson’s, some kind of Pacific northwest based outdoorsy retailer that I guess is trying to serve the market that Eddie Bauer and L.L. Bean abandoned for fashion. Either way, I’m not spending $500 on a parka.

      I’m a big Detroit booster and midtown is certainly part of the city’s revival, but I don’t feel particularly comfortable there.

      Also, Shinola should source their varsity jackets from Reed Sportwear, located in Detroit about 20 minutes from there headquarters in the Argonaut Bldg, not from California.

      • Kevin Jaeger

        I like the idea of Shinola and if they can actually get people to pay those prices then more power to them. But as a rule I’m willing to pay for quality but not ridiculous prices for what seems to be mostly a branding exercise. Yes, I’m very happy to see them creating employment in Detroit but for the moment I don’t see the value in their products.

        But I’ll stop in again for an espresso occasionally to see if that changes. And of course to enjoy the fine products found across the street.

  8. dumas

    Thank-you for your “Made in America” series. It has helped me out in finding a lot of useful products. It may be expensive, but this is the sort of basic, “bread and butter” item that I like to see made in USA. I’m not American, but it still helps (well, maybe Canada will come along and play sometime in the future).

    It’s one thing to see “Made in USA” on something hand-crafted/rare/of limited general use, but another entirely to see it on a power bar, or a washer-dryer, or a faucet.

  9. Bozi

    While I don’t ever see myself buying a $175 extension cord, I can understand the mindset as I’ve bought many tools that are made in USA or Germany that were 5-10x the cost of stuff you might find at Harbor Freight.

    • Ken

      This. I’d rather pay a reasonable premium for durability, especially tools. Same here, I’ll pay 5-10x when it comes to that. Recently purchased an American made (or mostly American made, hard to tell entirely) flood light after going through several $30 – $100 home depot china specials. Had to order online from RAB lighting, but its top notch.

      Unfortunate not to see more of the higher quality goods (American, German, or otherwise) available in consumer outlets.

      As for Shinola, particularly their watches, I too don’t understand the dislike. Yes they are primarily a marketing brand, but what watch company isn’t? Watches are like cars. Yes, people are concerned about reliability, durability, and maintenance – but the real reason one brand is bought over another is the way you feel about it. Its not an analog comparison of quantifiable features that are bereft of emotion; like the differences between a China flood light and an American one.

      Its how the watch makes you feel. If you feel better about where the watch is made, the image that watch portrays, or the good the company does – then that’s just as marketable.

      I geek out more about movement types and materials. Is that any more rationale?

  10. Rambo Furum

    I was looking at Japanese stamped metal pencil cases today. They were about the size of the presumably bakelite case above and five bucks. I saw them as remarkably cheap. I get the author’s fetishism here, but even under some consumerist euphoria, I can’t see breaking much over a c-note for this. But then I don’t have an acquisition disorder.
    The kindest that I can be is to say that they did overproduce and did not undercharge. I’d like to believe that some marketer crunched numbers and found that it was less profitable to sell ten times as many at half the cost or whatever it is.
    Really I think at least a third of the MSRP is going to packaging, the fancy store, and other things utterly unimportant to the product. When I choose to pay a bit more for sturdy old school American products, I want the bucks going to quality materials and skilled labor, not frippery and hoopla.
    I am still peeved about this surge suppressor that I have which some liar on eBay claimed was Made in USA.

    • Eric H

      I guess you didn’t even make it through the first sentence on the product page.
      This thing has a die-cast (probably zinc) metal case.
      I agree that it is hilariously overpriced, $50 is more in line with what you’re getting.

      • rambo furum

        Gee, you’re right. I’m even less enthused about a painted (or enamel or powdercoat, whatever) metal box. Phenolic, er Bakelite, has more character.

        Oops, above should say they do NOT overproduce. They seem resistant to make these items at levels where the price point would be more credible. This is probably because there is no mid market left. It is luxury or discount nowadays.

  11. -Nate

    America used to lead the world in plastics so I’da thought making electrical wire products would be inexpensive .
    Shows how little I know, right ? .
    I’d prolly pony up $25 for an American made surge protector even if it looked ugly but that’s about it .
    I always like American made things even if I have to buy them used to be able to afford them .

  12. 98horn

    I’d rather pay a significant amount of money once for a thing that will last than many small payments for disposable products. We used to call it “quality” and it is vanishingly rare in any good currently available on the market. Bonus points for buying American.

    • Dirty Dingus McGee

      And that is why anything I buy at Harbor Freight, and almost anything at Northern Tool, falls into the category of “novelty” (electric flyswatter) or “emergency” (no American made one readily available and I need something NOW). I have items, tools, small appliances, household goods, etc, that are between 20 and 40 years old. Initial price was high, but not replacing every 2-5 years? Priceless

  13. MichaelPhelps

    Jack I’m down with the buy american. I’ll drop 275 on shoe bank allen edmonds and 150 on a brooks bros made in USA dress shirt. But this 175 dollar extension cord is a bridge too far.

    • Will

      Make your feet happier and go buy some Alden’s. SO much better than Allen Edmonds. Brooks brothers stuff is made in Italy I think now. There’s Oxxford, Hickey Freeman & Hart Schaefer Marx that is made in the USA.

      • Jack Baruth Post author

        I feel compelled to state that, in my opinion, the difference between Alden is solely that of last design, not workmanship or quality. I’ve done point-by-point comparisons between my Aldens and my A-Es to confirm this.

        Now, Alden has one thing A-E does not: the Indy boot!

        • Will

          Have 2 pairs of Indy boots. There’s a difference in leather, stitching and lasts. Though I must say, you always go with what’s the most comfortable. I still would like a pair of George Cleverly Churchill’s.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            I’d like to have a set of Greens or Lobbs. I’m going to London this year and I might make the time to have some Lobbs done.

        • rambo furum

          Doesn’t Alden still have a steel shank, valuing durability over airport convenience? Mine are old stock so the vast superiority of the leather may no longer be relevant.
          Alden may not have designed a completely new shoe since the Kennedy presidency, as best I can tell.

          • Will

            So? Goodyear welting was designed in the 19th century and still used today on most quality men’s shoes. All bolt actions use the Mauser action designed in the 19th century. All modern pistols are based off the John Browning designed 1911. There’s something to be said about things are designed well that still work well.

            I think they still use the steel (or metal shank).

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            Yes, Alden are steel shank… if you’re TSA Pre that makes a big difference in a bad way. I don’t think it helps durability all that much in an era where typically we send dress shoes back for recrafting instead of having a cobbler whip on a new sole.

            As for the superiority of leather, Alden and A-E use the same grade of leather for their high-end dress shoes and that’s been the case for maybe 20 years. If you buy the $199 A-E casuals, you’re not getting Alden-quality leather, obviously. But a modern A-E Park Avenue is of equal quality to an Alden captoe. I know this because they’re sitting next to each other in my shoe rack.

            For cordovan shoes, the horsehide is EXACTLY the same. As in, Horween supplies A-E and Alden the same grade material to the same specifications.

            I own well over 100 pairs of American-made dress shoes and a dozen or so from Grenson, Crockett&Jones, et al. I’ve never seen this Alden/A-E quality gap but I sure have heard a lot about it. I always put it down to East Coast snobbishness.

  14. David Schaffnit

    Would I be wrong to assume that the plastic parts of the cord are actually “Bakelite”? Not sure if it would make any difference but my experience with Bakelite is that it does provide a very good “feel” and some solidarity.

    Not sure if I would pay the premium but it is something I would value having around.

    • -Nate

      Bakelite is really nice stuff but, it shatters fairly easily unless it’s really thick .
      I have lots of old Bakelite tools and telephones but I’ve also had to discard many more that had chips, cracks and broken beyond repair parts =8-( .

  15. VoGo

    Serious question. I am often accused of ‘virtue signalling’ at TTAC when I post various political thoughts. OK. It’s a new concept for me, and I’m just learning the lingo here.

    But isn’t Jack also virtue signalling with his Buy America campaign? Or is it only liberal cucks who virtue signal?

    • everybodyhatesscott

      Virtue signalling is saying one thing while doing another. Saying ‘diversity is our strength’ while living in a 99% white enclave is virtue signalling. If Jack said ‘buy american’ while running a cheap chinese factory, that would be virtue signalling. He’s saying buy american and doing his best to buy american. He’s backing it up.

      • Jack Baruth Post author

        Beyond that, I would say that “virtue signaling” is an attempt to show group solidarity or affiliation at minimal cost.

        Slacktivism, Twitter rants, Facebook posts about Trump… all designed to show how much you agree with the group at no personal cost.

        Going to Africa to help kids get clean water is actual virtue. “Checking in” at Standing Rock on Facebook is virtue signaling.

      • VoGo

        OK, so according to Scott and Jack, Kevin is NOT virtue signalling here, because he posts things that make him look like a dick, and he really is a dick.

        Good illustration to make the point. Again, thank you.

      • Kevin Jaeger

        Yep. Not hard at all. I don’t believe I’ve ever responded to a Vogo post on any site before as I usually live my life ignoring that type of pathetic loser. But since he asked a serious question I thought I would provide him one and only one serious answer.

        Now back to ignore mode.

  16. Airquotes

    I personally wouldn’t pay $175 for a power bar, but to each their own.

    I think you’re also into audio stuff. Have you seen Schiit?

    All made in the USA. The founder wrote a book length account of the founding of the company and has lots to say about starting a US business, marketing, and how to run a business in general

    It’s interesting stuff.

  17. -Nate

    “I own well over 100 pairs of American-made dress shoes “.
    Jesus fucking CHRIST ! .

  18. DirtRoads

    Yeah Nate I think we can now confirm that Jack is a show whore. Or whoarder lol πŸ™‚

    When I wrote that it somehow triggered memories of a phrase from Billy the Mountain, by FZ and the MOI

    ah the goodle days

    (damn, THAT reminded me of Johnny Hartford!)

  19. Pey-droh

    If you’re looking for an American made clock that’s a little kitschy – there’s always the Kit-Kat Clock:

    Granted, you need to have a house and a style that will allow you to successfully pull it off. But take it from me, it gets noticed by your friends.


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