Jobs, money and kayaks

Posted by Ken Campbell April 3, 2011 0 Comment 661 views

When I first started kayaking, almost all the boats were made in the US or Canada. There were a few British boats on the scene as well, made in Great Britain, and a few others from Mexico, but the lion’s share of the manufacturing took place in North America.
Now, of course, things have changed substantially. My paddleboards were made in Thailand. None of my kayaks is Chinese, but that’s only because I don’t have any newer boats. If I were to replace them with something of their type that is a little more current, the replacements would likely come from the People’s Republic. It’s true for just about anything anymore; everything seems to originate in China.
It’s economics and I don’t claim to understand it. I’m not one of those who automatically pooh-pooh trade and I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with buying something from another country, even a kayak. But I remember when production started moving overseas and the reps all talked about the savings and how much less it cost to produce kayaks in China than it did here. (When you don’t have to pay a fair wage or abide by any environmental or labor guidelines, when dumping your trash in the river is just how business is done, you should see some savings, eh?)
The thing is, if all that is true, if it does cost less to produce a kayak in Asia than here, why aren’t kayaks less expensive? If the companies really are saving money, why aren’t those savings obvious to the consumer? Why do kayaks cost more now than they did then – even when you allow for inflation – and where is all the money going? The prices should have gone down, yes? I’ve never been good at math, but I can run the numbers through in my head and come up with a few realities, and they don’t match what I see for sale these days.
A Chinese kayak shouldn’t cost $3,000, ever, but it does. If there’s a good reason why, I’d like to know what it is.

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