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the big box

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Almost every day when I receive articles from the on line publication SGB (Sporting Goods Business) there is an article about another store being opened in some city. I am not against companies making investments in opening more stores in their chains since it provides jobs etc.

I read that Bass Pro/Cabelas have 190 stores in the USA that was a big surprise. Dick’s have maybe 850 so far and recently Camping World purchased Gander Mountain and changed the name to Gander Outdoors. I do not know how many stores they have at this time but I am sure it is more than Gander Mountain had when they went out of business.

Add to that REI and LL Bean who have maybe 200 between them. Then there are the companies like North Face, Columbia, Nike and a bunch more who have
flagship” stores in a number of cities. Then of course all of these companies have their own web site and in many cases they sell Amazon or Amazon is also getting product made for them. What do they all have in common?

They all carry the same merchandise made in China, Vietnam, and who knows what other Asian countries. From what I have read in some of the British on line publications some product is even made in North Korea.

This is going to result in a boom for the consumer. These guys are all competing for the same dollars and the benefit to the consumers are, or will be lower and lower prices. Of course the quality of the merchandise will be reflected in the lower prices.

Of course now the consumer will have a choice between the cheapest quality products available. That is what I call planned obsolescence. The consumer will not pay much for the merchandise so when it disintegrates very quickly they will not care. Now the consumer can buy the same product only in the new vogue color.

We already know the companies peddling this stuff have new and improved versions for the new year; well that is what they say.

These companies are quite large, some privately held and others publicly traded but they function exactly the same; the bean counters look at the bottom line and they want it to always be in the black. All that is done is with the shareholders in mind as a number one priority. I am not against making profits after all if you do not make a profit you eventually close your doors.

Where does the consumer fit into all of this; the consumer is the same as prey in a jungle. The corporate managers are good at what they do but those who actually run the show at lower levels of the companies may or may not have knowledge of the products offered. If they do they have to keep their own thoughts to themselves so they keep their jobs. If they do not have knowledge they are useless to the people who come into the store to make a purchase, because these people are working at the minimum wages paid since they may very well be young people with their first job. So the consumer going into one of these big box stores is prey.

When I first started Wiggy’s I had to respond to many questions about my products via the telephone. Nothing has changed for me over the past now 30th year of business. While I receive many e mails with questions I always ask the writer to call me and I will get many calls regardless from people asking questions. Quite often the caller will tell me of their experience in one of these stores and I advise them that they have been lied too. I am always very matter of fact that they are free to go back to the store and tell them what I have said. The reality is a young person who unfortunately has no knowledge of the product the consumer is interested in purchasing is this young individual. In some instances the sales person may be an older individual who was retired and needs a job to keep busy if not for the added income who is equally unqualified. That is par for the course these days.

Years ago when I first started working in the outdoor industry selling them material I found many young thinking individuals who though in terms of how to make a product and the quality of the product. As an example I still own and use two soft sided luggage bags made by North Face Company that are far better than any similar product you can buy today that is unfortunately not the case with today’s North Face products. My bags were purchased in the late 1970’s.

For the past thirty years I have maintained the same sewing methods and materials that performed very well at the beginning, I never thought of changing what has performed well. Coincidently the following e mail supports my point.

Just received this testimonial, thank you for the testimonial and order.

I’m excited to finally order over-bags for my family's Ultra and Super-light sleeping bags. Our current Wiggy's bags have been wonderful, especially for the relatively mild temperatures we routinely experience in the Southeastern U.S. And while our winter-lows are often comparable to other people’s spring and fall temperatures, we never worry a bit about sleeping well in our Wiggy’s bags. We are planning a late-Fall trip to Minnesota later this year, so this is the perfect opportunity to buy the over-bags I’ve always wanted but never got-around to ordering! I’m sure they will keep us toasty warm this Fall, and for many years beyond!

Rick of Valrico Florida

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