I wrote about our struggles in 2007 (click here for the article). That posting got me in trouble when our vendor admitted that one of the products I believed was “American-made” included key components from China.
I wrote about it again last year. By that time, we had hammered out a formal policy (which we still follow today) that says, in part, “We believe in offering products made in the United States wherever possible. When we offer imported items, we choose the best quality we can find.â€ (Click here to read the article.)
Now I’m calling on you again to help us figure out what we should do.
Recently, we found some oil lamps that were far cheaper than anything we had seen elsewhere. Of course, they were made in China. But, on the other hand, the sad truth is that most oil lamps are made in China.
Our struggle came from the fact that they were, well, cheap. Awesomely, stunningly, amazingly “cheap”. Our regular price was only $5.95 each…right now, they’re on sale for only $2!
$2 for an oil lamp. That is a jaw-dropping bargain! How could we not carry them?? But, let’s be clear. At that price, the quality is pretty low.
In this economy, we think price matters. Our first choice is always to carry top-quality, American-made product. But, we have to acknowledge that sometimes price matters more than anything else.
So, we swallowed hard and put them in the catalog and on the website. Believing that honesty matters, we described them with brutal frankness. We said, “The workmanship is crude: edges and seams may be rough.” Check them out for yourself:
These lamps are 7 1/2 inches tall. They come in two colors, as you can see, and are fully functional. $2 each, while they last. (Click on the photo or click here to see them on our website.)
This one is also 8 1/2 inches tall. It has a more traditional footed base. It comes only with a clear glass base. You can click on the photo or click here to see it on our site.
At less than a foot tall, each of these lamps is more suited for mood lighting than serious lighting needs. I’m guessing they are about two to three times brighter than a candle.
We’ve got a great deal on the Fenton lamp. They’re made by American craftsmen in an American factory less than two hours from our store. There are no rough edges or crooked seams on this lamp! And, they’re half price! Click on the photo or click here see them on our website.
So there are choices. The problem is, that even though we have a great deal on Fenton Glass Lamps, they are still a lot more money than our Chinese version.
Which would you buy? I’d love to hear your comments. Please help us understand what you want us to do in situations like this!
PS – Even our American-made Fenton lamps have a Chinese-made burner. There are no USA-made burners available. But, the burner comes from a factory in China that makes MUCH higher quality burners. So, the Fenton lamp not only has a higher quality American-made base, but is functionally better as well. We could have put a cheap burner on the lamp and saved a dollar or so. But, we stuck with the better burner because “When we offer imported items, we choose the best quality we can find.”