The $35 Question
Eric McNulty on Business
I went to buy a new pair of gym shorts yesterday. Nothing can inspire a fresh commitment to a workout routine in the new year better than some new equipment after all.
I wasn't lookng for anything fancy. No pro or college team logos. No high tech fabrics. Just a pair of shorts.
I went to my local sporting goods store and found a wide selection. Starting at $28 and ranging up to $35 and more. Perhaps I'm getting old but this just seemed crazy to me. The fabrics were mostly basic acrylics though there was a cotton pair or two. Team logos were hard to avoid. All of the labels that I checked showed that the shorts had been manufactured in low wage countries.
So, if the manufacturing is handled by low wage labor and supply chains are getting more and more efficient, why do gym shorts cost $35?
There isn't much 'design' in a pair of gym shorts so I'm not pulling on a lot of high-priced intellectual capital. The workers aren't getting paid much to put them together. They weigh no more than a couple of ounces so they can't cost much to ship. I thought that I'd find shorts that cost from $10 - $20. I wasn't even close.\n\nSo who's making all of the money? It can't all be going to licensing fees for the unavoidable logos.\n\nIf I was confident that I was paying for decent wages and working standards for employees (US or otherwise), environmentally responsible factories, or some breakthrough innovation in shorts, I'd be happy to pay.\n\nBut I'm not that confident. Can someone explain this to me? I just keep coming up short.