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Out of Our Minds
Thursday, December 29, 2005 1:19 PM
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.


Kevin - 12/29/2005 7:03:33 PM
I've had luck finding 'gym shorts' at the discount store (Target, WM) that would fit (or duck under) your expected price range. I'm not sure that a sporting goods store is the place to shop for value (at least in an absolute sense).

Now if the cheap shorts rub you 'wrong' or make you look like Poindexter from 7th grade gym class, the sporting goods store may be your salvation.

P'raps the higher price is an additional inducement to get to the gym. I know that my $8.50 shorts sit on the bench far too often.
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 12/29/2005 5:57:28 PM
Eric, That old American dream...supply and demand fetch the prices. The good news is that you will be able to work out in style.....Unless and until we make an issue of things like this nothing will change....And I just had a thought that would revolutionize the concept of expensive work out clothes....Dress like the emperor in the story 'The Emperor's New Clothes' and tell everybody you paid a lot of money for this great outfit! Someone will probably buy you a pair of shorts....Hey here's another question...why do they get called a pair of shorts anyway? On another note, don't know if this is pertinent in your life, but...women's bathing suits average more than $100. per suit. The skimpier the more expensive they are. Go figure.... Living la vida fearless, Jan


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