by Robert Smith
After one of the happiest periods I can recall, it must be reported: The dream is no more. The amazingly beautiful art piece/clock/ceramic wonder that I purchased at Family Dollar for $3.88 a couple of months back no longer works (please check our archives for the three articles by both myself and Jon Pine). As I look at my watch, it’s 1:55 pm; as I look at the clock, it’s 2:33 whatever. The sweep second hand goes round and round, taunting me like a strip club dancer wanting a fiver; my happiness gets thwarted by the second.
How could this be? How could, after that moment of pure joy upon purchasing this gorgeous and rare quasi-heirloom, could something of such obvious quality and beauty simply cease working so quickly? I still hear the whap, whap, whap of its sweep hand, sounding as if it is intentionally spanking me for being so, well, crazy about it. As I write these words, my hand is leaving my penny pen to take the AA Walgreens battery out of the frickin’ thing before I dump it in the waste bin.
We surely hope you realized the satire during this series of articles, but allow us to vent our true feelings here: Nobody should be caught dead with one of these monstrosities. During the continued Walmartization of our country, people continue to buy what’s cheap instead of what’s safe, trustworthy, and effective, and that’s a troubling thing. The influx of crappy imported goods isn’t the problem. What’s so incredibly sad is that people actually buy this stuff, and as the proliferation of dollar and discount stores proves, people are consuming poor quality Chinese merchandise by the pallet load.
Enough is enough. As a community, we have to think about what we buy and who we buy from, and the ripple effect it causes on our neighbors and our economy.
Recently, there was a television financial news report on D’Addario Guitar Strings, based in Long Island, New York. Many other companies in its field have long sourced out the work on such products to other countries; D’Addario refuses to. The products are of exceptionally high quality, and continue to be amongst the best-selling guitar and bass strings in the world as no higher a cost than any other brand.
David Mermelstein, the CEO of Croton, a New Jersey-based company that’s been selling timepieces for more than 130 years, recently wrote this about his employees on the WatchGeeks.net website following a holiday sale at his workplace: “I know it was Thanksgiving weekend and they would have loved to spend time with their families, but loyal as they are, they were here to put on a great show. I am blessed to have a staff as I have.” Even cursory glances at the website, where watch aficionados gather to discuss new products, have proven that Mermelstein’s company consistently does all it can to rectify customer problems even as other, more highly publicized watch companies fail to do so time and again.
According to many sources, from 90 to 97 percent of all clothing and shoes are now manufactured outside the United States, even though the brand names are highly recognized U.S. companies. However, New Balance athletic shoes continue to produce a line of high quality sneakers and footwear, all either made or assembled in this country (though the company, forced by competition, also offers imported footwear as well).
Red Wing shoes – durable and tough boots and footwear – continue to be made in Red Wing, Minnesota, where they have been in business for only about 150 years.
These companies, and others like them, continue to prove the old adage: Produce something of quality and earn a customer for life. It’s high time that, as a nation, we protect our personal incomes and buoy our economy by trading with each other, and all the while insist on the best from each other. Americans have never shown a limited capacity for innovation and hard work – or for caring about one another.
However, since the late 1950s, we’ve been lulled by advertising into a “do what’s easy” complacency, and we’ve fallen for every line of guff that’s been spewed in our direction. Instead of eating home baked cakes and pies, we choke down Twinkies and Uncrustables frozen peanut butter sandwiches. Instead of consuming healthy, real bread, we scarf down commercially made loaves with as many as 47 ingredients and preservatives on the label – on bread. We buy cheap, pressboard furniture in dollar and liquidation stores. We eat frozen, reheated meat in fast food restaurants. We just do what’s quick and easy, because, you know, “I got a wife and kids to support.”
So, to whoever out there has that attitude, I deliver this holiday greeting: Go to blazes. Instead of joining the line at the dollar store to save four cents on a pair of Chinese-made socks, think before you buy, guy. And remember that for every such purchase, there’s likely one more schmoe on the unemployment line during the supposed most wonderful time of the year.
Robert Smith recently made a huge mistake in his personal life, and he’s hell bent on getting it out of his system, probably at your expense. We say let him sit at the end of the bar by himself.