Why No Red Wing Boots?

I noticed that some online style forum linked to the motorcycle boots collection on my website about a week ago. When I see links from online forums to my website, I track back to the originating site to see what is being said.

The original person posting on that forum noted how helpful…

…my website was when he was considering the purchase of a pair of Wesco boots. Thanks! I’m glad my personal lil’ ol’ hobby site was helpful.

RedwingWhat caught my eye, though, was a comment noting that since I have such a large motorcycle boot collection with well over 25 brands of motorcycle boots, why I do not own any boots made by Red Wing.

Here’s why–

1. Red Wing restricts sales to their own stores. New Red Wing boots are not sold online. There are very few Red Wing stores near where I live. However, a few years ago I was in the area of a Red Wing store and stopped in. That store only carried lace-up work boots and did not have any motorcycle boots in stock. The clerk offered to special order the boots for me, but that would require my having to return to the store to pick them up. It wasn’t worth the hassle of driving 80 miles round trip just for a pair of ordinary boots.

2. Red Wing doesn’t discount their new boots. Retail price of a pair of boots shown with this blog is US$320. Comparable USA-made short engineer boots made by Chippewa (style number 27863) retail price is about US$200. I’m all for buying USA-made products, even if it costs me a bit more, but for a short generic engineer boot, the cost difference between comparable boots is not a value.

RWMiC3. What’s worse is that with declining sales due to the economic recession of 2008 – 2010, the Red Wing Company decided to outsource production of a number of their boot styles to China. I can understand that as a business decision, because most blue-collar workers who wear Red Wing work boots don’t have a lot of money to spend on boots, so in order to keep the price of their boots within reasonable affordability, the company moved production (and jobs) to China. Red Wing isn’t the only boot manufacturer to do that during the economic downturn. Justin is another company that also did that.

4. I do not (knowingly) buy boots made in China. Quality is poor, boot construction is bad, and overall, boots made in China are awful.

5. Even though it costs U.S. boot companies less to make boots in China (a LOT less!), in this case, Red Wing has not lowered the price of their China-made products. So Red Wing is making more profits as a result. Okay, according to an article in Bloomberg News, Red Wing has created more U.S. jobs with the profits, but if the purpose of outsourcing boot manufacturing to China was to make boots more affordable to their usual blue-collar customers, they aren’t doing that. Something is wrong with that.

For all of these reasons — availability, convenience of purchase, poor cost-to-value ratio (high cost, low value of China-made boots) — I choose not to own any Red Wing boots. That’s okay, I have plenty of motorcycle boots and don’t need those just to say I have a pair of boots by that company.

Life is short: know your COOL (Country Of Origin Location).

2 thoughts on “Why No Red Wing Boots?

  1. Thanks for this blog entry, BHD. This is very timely because a few days ago, I received an e-coupon from the Red Wing store near me. I had been intending to go visit their store and look over what they offer, so you’ve given me information to consider even before I walk in. I have been cognizant (who hasn’t?) of the increase in Chinese manufacturing of so much which was once proudly American. In many instances, the quality is simply not as good. I had read that the boots pictured above – the very style I was interested in – weren’t as good as some older, ‘made in USA’ Red Wing boots. Now, I’ll be on my guard anytime I buy something, either in a store, or online. That old saying is so very true, “Forewarned is forearmed.”

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