Wednesday, October 05, 2011
They're All Around
No one likes liars, but I have been assured that everyone lies a little bit some of the time. Fine. But I prefer not to do business with someone whose factory is a shrine to lies and deception. I was attempting to "keep it at home" and design and manufacture carrying bags for my product line right here in the United States. Specifically, New Jersey. The company I targeted looked very promising. Their webpage showed bags with the logos of many well-known companies. Certainly if it was good enough for the Wall Street Journal, Revlon, and Ferrari, it would be good enough for us. Or so I thought.
Phone calls over weeks and months were always met with "the samples are going out today." Finally, in frustration, I sewed my own samples and decided to pay a personal visit. With my prototypes and product samples in hand, I arrived at their factory. I was pleased to see a real factory. However, on entering the enormous premises, which were completely devoid of workers less one sample maker, I was a bit disheartened.
I was eager to discuss the matter of an empty facility, but I decided to take care of the business at hand first - examine samples, discuss construction and fabric, silkscreening, etc. At one juncture, I finally decided to broach the subject of workers. The owner had already made mention of pieceworkers who came daily and took work home. Using a network of local home sewers is not a mortal sin, but he had made representations on the phone, as did their website: "Our sample makers provide the actual sample for your customer’s approval. All of this is accomplished in house as is the actual manufacturing and imprinting."
I questioned the owner about the in-house production. Gesturing in a very large nonspecific circular hand movement in the air, he said, "They're all around." I looked all around the massive, empty room. It was not lunch time and it was not a holiday. Was I blind?
Vagaries like this can be outright lies or can sometimes be used to deflect lack of specific knowledge. When I recently visited Riverdale and I enquired from a resident about the location of the palatial homes which I knew the area was famous for, I got another "they're around" type of response.
Riverdale is an affluent residential neighborhood in the Bronx. Fueled by the rise of rail commuting, the enclave was established in the 19th century by wealthy businessman who built country estates. Although smaller homes and apartment buildings have been added, the character of a secluded enclave still largely exists. The area fronts the Hudson River, affording magnificent views. There are many things of interest for the visitor, such as Wave Hill (a combination botanical garden and outdoor art gallery), the bell tower, the great wall of Riverdale, and the historic district of Fieldston. You can read more about the neighborhood here.
I did not prepare for this excursion to Riverdale, and I missed many of the sights. And although I did discover a few nice homes, I know that I did not dig deep enough and uncover the many historic mansions of a bygone era. But here in Riverdale, it's not an empty promise. You just need to look a little harder because They're All Around :)
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