Thursday, September 27, 2012

Made in America but Sold in China

There was an interesting article last week in the New York Times about a small plumbing company in Brooklyn that manufacturers high end plumbing fixtures and sells them to places like China. It's called "A Manufacturing About-Face: Made in America but sold in China."

This is something I really think we need more of. To me multi-national companies are more like sovereign nations than people. They stretch across vast areas of the globe, have their own rules, and ruling bodies. They belong to themselves only. And because they have a global back office to feed, they can only think in terms of immense sales. Nothing else would make sense for them.

This means there are opportunities for small local companies and I really wish people in the U.S. would take more advantage of this.
Speaking as a housewife, I'm constantly disheartened by trying to buy clothing made in China that is inexpensive, but doesn't wear or wash well. And is constantly in sizes that don't fit people of larger stature. I'm not a short or dainty woman. And I spend a lot of time in the rural Adirondacks sawing down tree saplings and hiking through deep snow or damp grass in my yard while walking my dogs. I need clothing that can take dirt and hot water. And I need shoes in a larger size that are able to stand up to the weather.

I get that big companies are interested in selling to the biggest markets. They're thinking of Europe, Asia, and big cities. They're not thinking about the rural U.S. in the north or the south, or women with size 10 EE feet. But there's a market here that's going begging. I don't know what it would take, but a small company in the U.S. could make good money off rural America because they wouldn't have a big global office to feed. And they'd sure have a ready-made customer in women like me.

That's a lesson that some indie publishers and Etsy store owners are learning. But it can be done on a larger scale too. I'm glad to see some are learning it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Remembrances of 9/11 & The World Trade Center

The tragedy of 9/11 seems like a long time ago in a lot of ways.

Still, I remember the smell of acrid smoke that stubbornly stayed with us for a long time and got stuck in the closets even in Queens.

And I remember friends and relatives contacting each other to see if everyone was all right.

And the miraculous situations where some people were stopped from going down to the area that day.

I remember the anger. And the fear. And the lines of New Yorkers that went around the block ready to give blood for the survivors that weren't found.

And the fearlessness of NYC firefighters who trooped in to face they knew not what in an effort to save people from the doomed buildings.

And I remember the immediate outpouring of help that came in the form of volunteers from outlying states.

And the way my husband and I started making our goodbyes in the morning more heartfelt, because we had learned well that you never really knew what the day might bring. Or if you might see each other again.

But I also remember the lighter side of the World Trade Center.

Like the giant King Kong that laid at the foot seemingly forever while they finished up the 1976 movie.

And the guy known as the Human Fly who climbed the South Tower in 1977.

And everyone always asking while I was working there if I'd seen the 1974 movie "The Towering Inferno." I made a point of missing it.

I also remember how proud I felt as I watched the Tall Ships sail the Hudson River from one of the upper floors of the Trade Center during the Bicentennial celebrations. I was young and hopeful and the world seemed full of promise.

I found the creaking of the buildings creepy as they swung in high winds and I hated the way your ears popped when you took one of the "express" elevators. And before they got the window cleaning machines, it was kind of weird having window washers hanging outside the building on the high floors.

But I loved the shops in the lower levels, and the busy beehive feeling to it, the dramatic sunsets and the way the tops floors sat above the clouds on certain days, making it appear as if the rest of the world had disappeared.

I can't bring myself to go to the Memorial. I think it would be too painful.

But I remember...