Thursday, November 8, 2007

IN THE NEWS: Chinese Toys

I am sure none of you have missed the articles in the news lately about the dangers of some Chinese toys. It looks like appreciation of handmade &/or natural toys are finally seeing their time in the spotlight!

However, in the chaos that has emerged from this I want to remind people not to make their choices based on fear. Information and research are the best way to shop. I know of some wonderful fair trade products that come out of China, as well as some products that are sub-standard made by crafters or made in the USA. So before you buy anything make sure you have all the information you can on the person who made the product and how they made it. Even though the newspapers are finally "on our side" we don't want to make the mistake of blindly following what we are told to do. Keep doing your own research and following your own intuition. That said...

There was one article, however, that stood out for me because it was so shocking. Here is a quote from that article:"You might be surprised to hear Chinese suppliers complaining that the prices at Wal-Mart are too low, but that is just what this translated article appears to be saying. The complaint is related to the retailer's classic fallback position of slashing prices across the board in order to boost sales whenever revenue performance is lagging.

Although Wal-Mart has tried to increase profits by recruiting a different kind of customer -- one who is interested in more fashionable clothes and name-brand products and has the money to buy them -- its classic price chops continue to serve as an old, reliable crutch. In other words, it will likely never recover from the "always low prices" mantra it has built for itself.

So it's interesting that many of the retailer's largest Chinese suppliers are now saying they can't continue to supply Wal-Mart with the "low prices" it requires of them. It's quite a retail epiphany when a Chinese supplier says that it can't supply products as cheaply as retail requires. Only Wal-Mart has this kind of power, and if these vendor and supplier feelings are true, then signs of desperation are probably starting to swirl in the hallways of Bentonville right now.

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