It’s time to encourage manufacturers to bring the production of their collectible dolls and teddy bears back to the USA. For the past two decades, and especially in the past 10 years, manufacturers have been closing down U.S. manufacturing plants and producing their collectible teddy bears and dolls in China as a cost-savings measure, allowing them to cope with the declining interest in new-issue collectibles. This short-term savings is now producing long-term problems, which can be resolved by bringing the manufacturing process back home.
This overseas production has resulted in the following pitfalls:
1. Loss of quality control. While there are certainly quality pieces produced throughout the world, the overall mass production has resulted in a loss of the high quality finishing that collectors have come to expect. Steiff, the premier collector teddy bear company, has recently pulled all its manufacturing out of China and back to Germany because of this issue. Astute collectors know quality, demand quality, expect quality and are willing to pay for it.
2. Loss of American jobs. When dolls and bears are manufactured outside of the U.S., jobs that would normally be filled by Americans are being performed by others and while there may be a cost savings in the short run, it is Americans in general who are the losers in the long run. Today nearly two-thirds of those manufacturing jobs have been lost to China in the past decade.
3. Loss of collectible appeal. American collectors prefer American-made products and new-issue material produced in China does not attract the same enthusiasm that the U.S.-made products will produce.
4. Loss of the ability to generate new collectors. When a company employs a large staff, those working in the plant create collector interest just by their pass-along comments. Each American touches hundreds of other lives, and nearly all their contacts are aware of their job status. So, by working in a doll or Teddy Bear factory, the word spreads and new collectors are created.
In addition, the cost-savings factor, which drove these manufacturers overseas originally, has dwindled so that it’s no longer a major factor for survival in today’s economy. Yes, there may be some savings, but the problems created from this move (as listed above) clearly trump the decision to continue overseas manufacturing.
The doll and teddy bear collector market is a market with a future. It’s time the U.S. doll companies consider returning to manufacturing their products at home. It’s a better future for everyone.