Saturday, December 29, 2012

Is it Local? Some Thoughts on Origin and Pricing

First, have a look at this -

If the image doesn't load - use this link:

Video is courtesy of IFC - the series is PORTLANDIA.

So now hopefully you're all feeling light-hearted and enjoyed a good laugh.

But I also suspect that many of us (yes me included) have had the same feelings about watches.  Where are they made?  Are they REALLY all SWISS, GERMAN, etc.?  By now it is known to anyone who really takes the time to do their homework that the notion of 100% SWISS made is becoming a very challenging notion.  The "SWISS MADE" parameters allow plenty of room to maneuver, and considering that we live in a global economy - fair enough.

We tend to vote with our wallets.  I don't get the sense that VW loses too many sales because a Jetta is NOT assembled in Germany.

But what I find fascinating is that when a company goes out of their way to source locally wherever possible, to be transparent about origin - and to charge accordingly - not outrageously - we cry foul.   We criticize, we complain, we try to find fault.  We say "there's no way it should cost that much!  I'm going to go buy a ____.    It's much better value!  These people are crooks, they're just out to make money!"  And it's that last line that always has me shaking my head.  Because we are fans, because we love watches, we feel that the people making our watches should be in it for love - apparently not for money.

So if we all went by that notion, we would agree to a 30% (standard expectation for discount when buying a watch here in North America) wage reduction because, in fact, that's what our time is considered to be worth by someone else.  I don't know about all of you out there who read this, but I for one am not prepared to accept 30% less for my daily work - why should we expect - and in some instances demand that people creating, producing, selling and servicing our watches accept 30% less?

This is not to say that I feel that all watches are RATIONALLY priced.  RATIONAL and FAIR are two different things.  FAIR is only an issue when we talk about essentials.  We can live without a nice watch, but we can't live without clean drinking water, or heat in the winter.

I for one am glad that there are high level artisans like Roger Smith and Stepan Sarpaneva out there.  I don't think we really question their work or their prices.  But I am also glad that there are brands out there that are truly making sure that "Yes, it's local" as much as they possibly can.  There is a reason why a 100% certified organic chicken costs more than what you pay for a "factory bird" at Walmart when they "roll back" the prices.  And there's a reason why a well made, small production watch costs more than something mass produced.  

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