Thursday, October 27, 2005

Perspectives from Pumpkin Creek Clothing

Outside the small town of Pinehurst, North Carolina, the family-owned Pumpkin Creek Clothing Company manufactures and sells knit clothing. In addition to a "brick and mortar" store, their great products are available on-line at Pumpkin Creek Clothing and Red H'Attitudes. I love their turtlenecks, which come in lots of colors and are totally soft, 100% cotton. The prices are almost unbelievably low because they have cut out the retail middlemen. In addition to great products at great prices, owners Darrell and Susan Marks care about keeping production in the USA. But, some days they wonder. . .

Does Anyone Really Care About the ”Made In The USA” Label?
by Darrell Marks, Pumpkin Creek Clothing Co.

In addition to our two web-sites, where all of the clothing featured is made in our own factory, we sell directly to the public from our 10,000 square foot outlet store. We are visited by hundreds of shoppers each week who come not only for the things which we make, but those selections Susan has gathered from the markets she attends. Although the customers may be too many to count, the number who are concerned about the country of origin of their purchases is not. It is very small, almost non-existent. The majority look at the styling first, the price second, and to their companions for their approval third. Where something is made is no longer a concern to almost anyone.

Is this a good or bad thing?

For someone like myself, who has been in garment maunfacturing since 1969, it is a bad thing. I have seen the once great American manufacturing system succumb to the demand of the Giant Walk-Marts, to whom price is everything. Thousands of good manufacturing plants, and all of their workers, have fallen prey to cheap foreign imports. Those that could not compete have gone the way of the horse drawn carraige, the telegraph, and free TV.

Being a ”the glass is half full” kind of guy though, I see the other side. Garment prices to the public are cheaper now than they were 10 years ago. Sure, people have been forced into jobs which they may have not preferred, but others have been able to afford a better life style because they are spending less on clothing and other commodities.

And we have survived, in an industry that is dying. How have we done it? By working long and hard, by being innovative and creative, and by refocusing our market. We quit making clothing for others to mark up and profit from, choosing to sell directly to the public at factory prices. The price I now receive is the same stores paid me years ago, but the customer pays no mark-up, thus my prices compete quite well with ”cheaper” imports. We both win. And for those of you who still feel ”Made In The USA” is important, the best of both worlds.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To me this is really sad. And because my granfathers all died in world was 2 I want to employ the americans who need the work. Any ideas on who I can use to make clothes for me here in the USA????