There has been a lot of discussion about the merits of trade lately. I’m not going to comment. This is not the place and I am not an economist – but it got me thinking about The Strap Saver (like I think of much else…), how we produce our product and our business partners. We do our best to consider location and work with other regional, small businesses. What does this do for us? Does it matter to the customer?
The stainless steel shape is cut in Michigan. One place near Philly and another in Florida help us put on that beautiful black and tan coating. Our website developer is located at the Jersey Shore. Of course, all of the packaging, accounting and marketing is done at our HQ in Englishtown, NJ and satellite office in Hackensack, NJ.
We’ve had several people comment about making the product elsewhere. Wouldn’t it be cheaper? Possibly, but right now I can’t see the benefit. I like being able to call my vendors at any point, without worrying about time zones or expensive phone bills. They are experts in their fields, just as I am an expert at shortening straps and being sarcastic on this blog. It’s great to be able to collaborate. If I have a problem, it is easy to resolve quickly. We’ve been lucky (or smart) enough to find vendors that are invested in our product as well.
Our digital partners have all been local as well. In the past two years, we’ve done a lot of remodeling on our site. Many suggested that we go through freelancing websites to find cheap developers. I’m sure that many people have had great success with those sites, but it wasn’t for us. Our web developer is just a quick phone call away or, if need be, about 45 minutes by car for a face to face meeting. The poor guy, he hears from me at least once a week. “Hey, can we do this? Or this? Or this?” I’m sure he’d prefer a little distance from time to time! (Hi Robert! We’ll have to grab pizza again soon!)
For the record, I am not judging those that use manufacture/web development bidding websites to find the lowest price or that choose to manufacture elsewhere. For some, it may be the difference between getting ahead and going under. Nobody wins when a company goes bankrupt. We’re not opposed to working with someone we haven’t met face to face. Quality is always the deciding factor, not price.
Now that we’ve walked through WHY I prefer to work with small businesses, I’m back to wondering if it matters. Do customers care? Is there an assumption of quality with small businesses/local vendors? Does that influence how you shop?