In the 1960’s, many products were still made in the USA. I remember, as a kid, looking at toys and quickly discarding anything that said “Made in Japan.” At the time, that phrase was a synonym for shoddy merchandise. The Japanese were smart, though — and industrious. Just a couple of decades later, Japanese electronics were elevated to superstar status.
Then along came China
While products once competed on the basis of quality, the advent of Walmart-style merchandising alerted consumers to the possibility of deep discounts on everyday items. Volume was in, low prices were in, and quality on the way out. In an attempt to stay competitive, businesses moved en masse to the low-price leader’s breeding ground: China. And the American economy began to sway.
I am no economist, but it sure doesn’t look good
Last week, I was privileged to represent one of the few iconic brands left in the USA: Vitamix. For 77 years now, Vitamix has been manufacturing their best-in-the-world blending machines in the same Ohio town. It is family-owned company, and today’s president is the great-granddaughter of the founder.
In short … Vitamix is an American classic.
Vitamix makes the best blending machines in the world. Inquire at any great restaurant or ask your favorite chef about Vitamix, and you will find that Vitamix machines are indispensable in the working kitchen.
There used to be a ton of USA-made brands the world adored. Not so much anymore. Even Boy Scout uniforms and American flags sport labels saying “Made in China.” It’s a sad situation.
Anybody want a Ninja?
Right across the isle from my Vitamix booth was the Ninja display. Sometimes people would ask me why Vitamix costs several hundred dollars and Ninjas are much cheaper.
“Because they ARE much cheaper,” I would say. “Vitamix is made in the USA, sports a 7-year solid warranty, and does what the Ninja only claims to do.”
Some would see the light and get the Vitamix. Others would go for the cheaper option. Some would get terribly upset at my assertions. How dare I point out that the shiny Ninja package with big letters saying “Professional” is all hype. If a professional chef took a Ninja into a real kitchen, he or she would get laughed out of the building and back to China.
We don’t care anymore
I’m not pointing fingers. I’m as drawn to low prices as anyone else. But I’m sick of it. From agribusiness “food” sponsored by Monsanto to cheap tools that break the first time you use them, I’ve been known to pass up the best product for the cheapest product … many times.
If American consumers would wake up and begin voting with their wallets, things would change. Businesses would get revived, overall health would climb, and we would bolster our sometimes sagging American pride. That’s a really big “If,” though. And it doesn’t seem imminent.
We are suckers. Yes, we are.
Happy 238th birthday, USA
God bless us all.