Okabashi Made in USA Sandals (Take That, You Chinese Crocs!)

I recently ran across Okabashi sandals for being a made in USA sandal.  I remember that Crocs were originally made in USA then quickly got converted to made in China, once they became popular.  It’s not as if Crocs went down in price when that happened, though.  They’re actually more expensive than Okabashis.  Anyway, I was excited to try out these sandals as they seemed very comfortable, stylish and emphasized their recycling and waste-minimization programs.

I was not disappointed.  I tried out the Okabashi Eurosport model.  I loved the soft squishy feel, but at the same time they gave great support and had small massaging nubs on the insole.  They’re very comfortable.  I’ve worn them in the back yard and around town.  And they’re only $15!!! That’s way less than Crocs.

Here’s a pic:

Here is a photo of a women’s sandal that I saw on their website:

So I really liked the product and I really like the company as well.  As their literature itself said, at a time when only 2% of shoes sold here are made in USA, Okabashi has chosen to buck the trend.  Their shoes not only employ more Americans per shoe produced, but they also use less imported oil to get to you.  The average Okabashi shoe travels 700 miles, while the average imported shoe travels a whopping 11,600 miles!!  Okabashi accepts all of their shoes for recycling into new shoes and 25% of Okabashi are made from recycled materials.  The 2% of Okabashi recycled materials that can’t be made into shoes are even sent to other manufacturers, such as to make industrial floormats!  Unbelievable!  Can Obama please give these guys a medal?  Stop giving money to banks and promote Okabashi!

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7 Responses to Okabashi Made in USA Sandals (Take That, You Chinese Crocs!)

  1. Mary says:

    I’m glad you discovered Okabashi sandals. I’ve worn them for years and I’m a very satisfied customer. I wear them out, at home and at the beach. They wash easily should they get dirty and you”ll discover that they wear for years. Okabashi now has sizes and styles for children so I’m delighted to see them again expand their line.

    They are another example of a domestic product that is less expensive than their foreign made competition. I proved that again recently when I purchased an Oral-B toothbrush that was $1.20 less than the made in China competitive brand.

    It’s simply a marketing pitch that imported goods are cheaper than Made in USA.

  2. Zach says:

    I emailed this comment to Alex and he said I made good points and asked me to post it on here.

    Alex,
    I appreciate what you are trying to do here. I really do. I work in the manufacturing industry so I understand. What I would like to do is try to provide a different point of view. Our company makes products in the US and sells them all over the world. As a matter of fact, we are a nearly 9 billion dollar in sales a year company, mind you that is sales. Profits are closer to a few hundred million dollars. (which is a lot of money)

    The breakdown of our business is actually 97% of our revenues coming from outside of the US and only 3% coming from the US. That is a lot of money coming back to the US to pay the high wages, healthcare costs, property taxes, SS taxes, corporate income taxes, etc.

    If we were to have the US government get into a trade war with other countries, our sales would drop dramatically as the cost of our goods around the world would rise drastically and not be competitive. The US consumer would not step in to buy our products to make up for the fall in worldwide revenue. Our company would then lay many of us off, local taxes would suffer as operations are shut down and land is sold off, the federal government would not get as many taxes paid into their coffers since our profit would be down plus the lost income taxes from the people laid off, etc, etc.

    This same story can be said for Caterpiller, John Deere, General Electric, Pfizer, 3M, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, P&G, and on down the line.

    The American consumer market can not make up for the lost worldwide revenues if we get into a trade war. All that will do is cause layoffs for many companies while helping only a few others.

    There are 300 million people to be consumers in the US. The world has billions of consumers. Japan is 127 million, Europe is over 500 million, China has 1.3 billion, India has over a billion and so on.

    We can’t make up the shortfall for all of those people around the world buying US goods just with American consumers. The numbers don’t add up. Also, even those companies who make goods abroad and sell them here and around the world, that money comes back to the US to pay the engineers, scientists, accountants, salesman, marketers, retail jobs, janitorial crew, and on down the line. Not to mention the taxes they pay to the government.

    This open trade has caused jobs to leave the US but it has also caused jobs to be created in the US as well. Someone will always have a competitive advantage over someone else and those things do change with time. These things go in cycles. Eventually things won’t be so cheap to make in China and those jobs will leave that country.

    To give you a glimpse of the future, what you will see is company’s creating regional hubs around the globe to make their products for specific geographical markets. We are just now starting to do it. That means Asian companies will set up operations in the US. South American companies will set up companies in the US and on down the line. This will be because of two things. Transportation costs are increasing majorly and also there is alot of value in being local and knowing how to modify your product for different markets to suit their consumers different needs.

    This means jobs being created around the world by foreign companies in every continent.

    Believe me, I wish it weren’t so painful and I wish there were an easy transition to get to that point, but it is complicated.

    History tends to repeat itself or at least manifest itself in similar form. Google how protectionism worsened the Great Depression worldwide.

    • Alex K says:

      Very articulate points, Zach. Thank you for your comment.
      I would like to rebut the basic underpinnings of your argument, although I am not saying that I support tariffs as the first means to improving our economy nor am I itching for a trade war.
      Your argument assumes that our imports would stay the same while our exports would decrease, producing a net loss to our country. What this fails to take into account, however, is the fact that most of those things that we currently import, used to be produced here. From transistors, to wires, to electronics, these days, the benefit of cheap imported products has been borne on the backs of lost industries and jobs. Now, if we were to get into a trade war, we would be hurt in the short-term. Whole industrial sectors no longer exist in the US and would take time to pick up the slack. However, they would rebuild if there were a favorable environment for them and if American consumers had no other choice.
      Furthermore, your argument that we create jobs through exports fails to take into account the fact that our trade deficit implies that it is a net losing exchange. It is the same as buying on credit when you don’t have enough cash to buy what you would like. You go further into debt and have to liquidate your assets, until you have nothing and have become a pauper. That is the losing equation that the US is currently in. So the way that trade is working right now for the US is impoverishing us, not enriching us, and it can’t remain in this state for much longer.
      However, I realize that tariffs per se create more problems than they solve in the short term. I do think that we should match tariff for tariff for all industrial sectors against all countries that have such tariffs against us. That is only fair and the threat to do so may undo the existing foreign tariffs. There is much more that we as a nation can do to promote consumption of domestically produced products over foreign ones that does not include tariffs. These are things that countries like China, Japan, and India are experts in. We could require that government and municipal contracts be awarded to American or American-partnered firms with greater than 75% of the value of the contract derived from American production. We could have government-sponsored ad campaigns and marketing to promote the patriotism and other benefits of buying American. More detailed and uniform labeling, both on products and online should be required. Special benefits for domestic job creation and penalties for offshoring should also be considered. There could be low-tax, free-enterprise zones that promote investment in American industry from abroad and at home. Distribution networks that emphasize domestic products are another idea.
      So there are multiple methods, short of tariffs that can be used to re-balance foreign trade, benefit our economy and not get us into a trade war. Simply sitting back and saying, “But we can’t afford to hurt exports!” is an insufficient response to our current trade deficit disaster.

  3. Zach says:

    Interesting replies Alex.

    I think that designating special economic zones would be a wise move. China has done that and it has worked wonderfully.

    In regard to the trade imbalance each month, a MASSIVE part of that trade deficit is because the US dollar has weakened by nearly 40% over the last 15 years. Our purchasing power as a nation has steadily declined, therefore we have to put out more dollars to get the same amount of goods. Also, because things like TV’s and computers are made much cheaper overseas, more people are able to purchase them today than 5 or 10 years ago. This also adds to the trade deficit. Don’t forget about oil…we import over 60% of our oil….

    I agree that there are plenty of things we could do to make US businesses more competitive again, but there will be some things that we just won’t be able to do cheaper or better than other countries. Every country has their strengths. It has been that way since the beginning of time and it will always be that way.

    Also, the World Trade Organization would not allow us to get into tarrif wars or else we will be kicked out. China was able to get away with this for awhile, but that is changing. The WTO is now putting pressure on them as well the IMF and other countries. They will soon allow people to start trading their currency in the ForEx markets so that their currency will rise.

    Ultimately it boils down to cost and competitiveness.

    Consumers demand value at a low price because they are debt ridden and have to meet their budgets. Companies have to make sure they stay competitive on price and the single largest expense of a company is the wages and benefits or their workers.

    US workers in many parts of the country are simply too expensive. That is in part because the cost of living in the US is too high. A housing bubble, inflation in commodities due to a weak dollar, expensive health care, and high taxes means workers demand high pay and companies lose their ability to make a profit. They will then be either bought by a competitor or go out of business. It is just the truth.
    Why do you think that Auto Manufacturing companies thrive in the SouthEastern US and the ones up in Detroit are absolutely crippled? Workers cost half as much in the SouthEast US.

    If it were me, I would do the following:

    -I would take away the tax incentives that cause housing prices to appreciate (the $500,000 tax exempt profit you can make on selling a home and the interest deduction). This would lower the cost of US workers.
    -I would also create the special tax zones you mentioned so businesses can have lower costs as well as the encouragement it would give foreign companies to come and open up North American HQ’s here in the US.
    -I would open up Health care insurance to a nationwide market creating just one single set of laws governing them so that insurance costs can go down because of a national pool of people paying in.
    -And then I would reduce the amount of spending in government and focus on paying down debt to strengthen the US dollar so that commodiities become cheaper again and the trade deficit would start to shrink.

  4. Alex K says:

    Some excellent points, Zach. I agree with most of what you say, especially your suggestions. Do you have economics training?

  5. Zach says:

    I’d like to mention one more thing.

    What about technological advances that replace the need for manual labor? Has anyone thought about how machines can replace things that humans do? Those jobs are simply eliminated, not moved overseas.

    We could do that in our plant right now and eliminate 4 jobs on each line for a total of 48 jobs eliminated per shift.

    Our workers cost us roughly $30 an hour when you include wages, benefits, SS taxes, payroll taxes, workmans comp, etc.
    $30 X 40hrs/week X 52weeks = $62,400 dollars per worker. Remember they probably are making only $40,000 but all of those other costs are still there for the company.

    Eliminating 48 workers per shift by 2 shifts would be 96 people.
    96 people X $62,400 a year = $5,990,400 a year less in costs.

    We could easily buy the machines for those lines and have made our money back in savings after 2 or 3 years.

    We haven’t done that because we are a privately owned company and the owners don’t want to lay people off. That is just their policy. We are also lucky because we have high margins and make enough profit.
    However, if we were in tough competition and fighting against another company, we would absolutely buy the machines….

    At the raw, basic level, businesses are created to make money not to provide jobs. Jobs are a byproduct of a business making money.

    That sounds harsh, but it is the truth. That is why it is important to make sure you are educated and skilled enough that you can’t be replaced…

  6. Zach says:

    Alex,

    Thanks for your replies. I don’t have economics training persay. I do read a lot. Read articles on Bloomberg.com for very good unbiased reporting. There is some great stuff there. Also, books like Freakonomics and Why Does Popcorn Cost So Much At The Movies are great too.

    I am currently getting my MBA, so that helps too. It has really given me a glimpse into what the owner of a company has to consider. There are so many variables in running a business that it can be mind boggling. The margin for error is very small.

    Ultimately trying to understand every side of the story and trying to dig a level deeper to see the unintended consequences of things is the best way to go. Trying to see what causes each domino to fall so to speak.

    For every action there is an equal or opposite reaction, right? Some reactions are positive, some are negative.

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