VERA BRADLEY – THE ULTIMATE OUTSOURCER TO CHINA

A big thank you to TDW for a blurb about Vera Bardley and her outsourcing to China. I was absolutely amazed when I read the post. And, not one to believe things without checking them out, I researched and found that others had posted online that they, too, had looked at their labels and found that yes, indeed, the labels say:

MADE IN CHINA

Still incredulous and somewhat skeptical about those statements online, I looked at the two items I had received as gifts. The first was a huge duffel bag I had received a couple of years ago. It said “Made in the USA.” Then I looked at my second, smaller bag – also a gift but received within the last year. The label had been slit with scissors right on the name “China”, but it did, indeed, say:

MADE IN CHINA

I have been so accustomed to thinking of Vera Bradley as a company totally devoted to maintaining jobs for Americans and right here in Fort Wayne, that the thought never crossed my mind that this icon of Fort Wayne fame and charity would make such a blatantly profit-making decision.

Photo Credit: SCORE

Vera Bradley’s president and CEO is former Indiana Department of Commerce Secretary Patricia Miller (left in the above photo), who helped lead a state trade mission to Asia from July 30, 2005 to August 7, 2005. Is it just possible she was making “deals” for herself while she was there? Or were the negotiations already in progress? How does one go about making plans to outsource American jobs?

After all, the duffel bag I received in 2006 still said “Made in the USA” while the handbag I received in 2007, 1 1/2 years later, said “Made in China.” Just about the right amount of time between a visit and a switch to outsourcing.

Photo Credit: ebay

The Vera Bradley website touts locations where its handbags have been spotted. Now the company can not only say “spotted in China” but also “Made in China.”

The website also states:

Located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Vera Bradley continues to remain steadfast in our commitment to excellent quality, exclusive designs and dependable customer service.

 

Committed to many things but not the American worker.

And here is a statement from SCORE:

Today, Vera Bradley Designs’ 75 employees produce over 800 products from a 25,000-square-foot manufacturing center in Ft. Wayne.

I suggest SCORE change its statement to include the locations in China which now make Vera Bradley items. Just to be fair about this, I do not know how many of the Vera Bradley products have been outsourced to China. But with every outsourced product, go American jobs.

Don’t look for the outsourcing of Vera Bradley items to lower product prices either. Visit the website, and it will be quickly apparent that prices have not dropped. The duffel bag in the picture above from eBay has a price tag of $139.95. The one I received as a gift – exactly the same but a different pattern – cost $85.00. Not only are prices not any cheaper at the website, the annual Vera Bradley sale at the Coliseum has simply become a way for women to show up, buy a large quantity of Vera Bradley products, and then proceed to overprice them on eBay.

So all you Vera Bradley obsessives out there, dig out those handbags and check the labels. Maybe you don’t care if Vera Bradley items are made in China instead of here, but, if you do, then you have the power to make a choice and commit to not purchasing any more Vera Bradley products.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Business, China, Economics, Free trade, Globalization, Mitch Daniels, Outsourcing. Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to VERA BRADLEY – THE ULTIMATE OUTSOURCER TO CHINA

  1. Mike says:

    It is true that Vera Bradley has some of its products manufactured overseas. Their growth has outpaced their ability to grow their domestic manufacturing capacity. However, they are devoted to continuing domestic manufacturing. They also continue to add jobs in Fort Wayne and throughout the U.S. as they pursue initiatives like their retail store rollout.

    • Kelly says:

      I am sorry, but “outgrowing” their domestic capabilites? When did we run out of unemployed Americans!!

      • Lynn says:

        Totally agree with Kelly and I can tell you the price of that $78 bag should be $29… as they probably paid $10 for it and it was made by some poor Chinese worker who is grossly under paid and maybe even his kids depending on the factory.

        In the US the cost would probably be 3 times that but again it was worth it to me for the better quality and the “american made” factor. REALLY SNEAKY play by upper management and greed.

    • Jeanne Dodge says:

      The right thing to do is, again, search for company that has American made products. That’s how I found Vera Bradley initially.

      • SUE RAE says:

        Manufactured in Van Wert, Ohio, Stephanie Dawn makes quilted handbags, carry-ons, backpacks, etc. that are beautiful and 100% “Made in USA.” The website is undergoing a renovation, but shoebuy. com carries an extensive line of Stephanie Dawn and is currently running a 20% off sale. Plus, if you sign up to the shoebuy website (free, no obligation), you get another discount. I just bought a Stephanie Dawn handbag for $30.

    • edith says:

      I am new to Vera Bradley but everything I bought from them has a terrible stink!!!!!
      I thought first it was the store I bought it from ( although it has been two different stores) but now I just got my items from the website and it has a horrible smell.
      4 items I had for 3 months and they still stink just as bad.

      I am concerned that it is toxic because it is made in China.

      Any suggestions?

  2. Mike:

    I just don’t buy the excuse of companies that they “outgrow” their domestic manufacturing capacity. How exactly does one outgrow its capacity when there are plenty of opportunities here in Fort Wayne or the United States, for that matter? If they can find “room” in China for production, then they can surely find it here.

    Exactly how many of Vera Bradley’s items are still made here and how many are made in China now?

    The bottom line is the major profit advantage from outsourcing instead of keeping the money here in this country. As I noted, in pricing the items, outsourcing certainly has not benefited American purchasers by lower prices for Vera Bradley products.

    I am not against production in other countries, but when 9 of 10 items carry a tag that says “Made in China” or some other country, we are in deep trouble.

    • Donna says:

      I totally agree with Charlotte. I have been supporting the Vera Bradley company for many years and have just about every pattern made but my husband and I are trying to buy things made locally or in the US only. It has been difficult but it is do-able and whatever we cannot get from the US, we may not NEED anyway! It was interesting that Diane Sawyer (televeison) said in a documentary she did, that if every American spent just $64 more than normal on USA made items this year, it would create something like 200,000 new jobs! THINK ABOUT THIS: If 200 million Americans each refuse to buy just $20 of Chinese goods, that’s a billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favor…fast!! Why would anyone in their right minds argue with these facts? 70% of Americans believe that the trading privileges afforded to the Chinese should be suspended. Why do you need the government to suspend trading privileges? DO IT YOURSELF, AMERICA!!

      I am all done buying from Vera Bradley and am so disappointed in the company for making this choice.

  3. Valerie says:

    Dear Friends,
    Just thought you might want to know that Vera Bradley is
    going to China for manufacturing. It will no longer be made
    in Indiana. Still want to show your support for them? They were
    making a lot of money, but I guess greed has caused them to
    want to make more off the Chinese worker and drop the Indiana
    ones. Pass this on to others, so they can decide if they want to
    purchase any more overpriced bags. I’ll bet they don’t lower the
    price, to reflect the lower cost of production. Plain and simple
    GREED, and UnAmerican. See article from the Rochester, IN
    Sentinal on the loss of jobs due to their decision.
    Valerie

    Superior Sample saying so long to Rochester
    Superior Sample Co. is closing its plant at 1225 N. Indiana 25.

    The last day will be March 10, president and part owner Peggy Daniels said Monday. She said much of the work done at the plant is going to China. That would be the Vera Bradley line of handbags. Other Superior Sample work is being moved to the firm’s plant in Ligonier, where the company was founded 50 years ago by Rex Hagen. Superior Sample has been in Rochester since 1988.

    “It’s been a good 20 years,” Daniels said. Rochester, she said, has “been a good community” with “wonderful employees.” She declined to say what the annual payroll has been but said about 30 workers remain at the plant here after a round of layoffs in November. Peak employment was about 70 workers. Daniels said.

    Superior Sample was the only “nonexclusive” company that did work for Vera Bradley. “They just kind of kept crunching us,” she said.

    Closing the plant is no fun, she said, “But if you take all the emotion out of it, it makes sense.”

    Cathy Fox, a 58-year-old worker who lost her job in November, is having a hard time taking all the emotion out of it.

    “They knew all this was happening, but they didn’t let us know,” she said.

    Fox said the layoff “was kind of cute.” It was on a Thursday.

    “One day our supervisor – I was working on Vera Bradley – she said when the last buzzer rings, come up to her office. She had something to tell us.” They did. She said: “I hate to do this, but I’m going to have to lay you off.”

    Fox was upset. “I said, ‘Thank you. You just caused me to lose my home.’ I wanted to know why I’m being laid off when there are girls who came after me who aren’t. Why me?’

    “She said, ‘I can’t discuss other employees.’ I just started crying.”

    Fox said her wages never reached much more than $6 per hour, but that was lots better than the $146 weekly unemployment check she gets now. She was laid off from Robertson Transformer when that plant closed. She has a little office training, but she also has a hip that makes it difficult for her to stand for long periods of time. She is not pleased, or especially confident that she’ll be able to find a job at her age.

    “It’s so sad,” she said. “The government has done it to us all by letting the work go overseas. What am I going to do now?”

    Fulton Economic Development Corp. chief Shane Blair said he understands there has been interest in the 48,000-square-foot building but declined to elaborate. He said the business of making samples of fabric and wall covering is “a maturing industry,” unlike “emerging industries” such as the blossoming world of bio-tech
    http://www.rochsent.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=3874&SectionID=15&SubSectionID=31&S=1

  4. "Gregg" says:

    Vera Bradley is a wonderful company. They are engaged in a huge growth, and your obvious lack for knowledge in general business shows. This company has seen huge increases in purchase and demand of product and pattern. They physically cannot hire on and train at the speed they need to. They have outsourced the jobs for now, but we will get them back! Theese woman are smart business leaders with 25 years of excellence. I hope you dont have a Coach or a Versace cause they are not made in the U S either. Maybe you should carry a plastic bag, oh wait they arn’t made in Indiana either! LOL @ You
    Poor Indiana woorkers. Maybe we should blame the lack of education most manufacturing workers have. Instead a business that bases itself in Fort Wayne and stimulates our local economy is much easier to call a red headed step child. It sounds to me like your a bitter Betsy and have no real idealistic thought on the Vera Bradley Situation. Maybe you should stop blogging and look for a job! Maybe we should blame Vera for the war, hell lets just vote her in instead of Obama, then we can blame the next 4-8 years on her too. For petes sake lady get a grip! It is a wonderful handbag, designer, and company.

    • Al says:

      If you read correctly you would see that the Lady that lost her job was not blogging. The comments came from a article that the blogger read! Before jumping to conclusions and bashing people because they are not college educated pay attention and get your facts straight.
      “This company has seen huge increases in purchase and demand of product and pattern. They physically cannot hire on and train at the speed they need to. They have outsourced the jobs for now, but we will get them back!” When you wrote this did you actually believe what you were writing? Did the Chinese people already know how to produce Vera Bradley products? They didn’t have to be trained? Don’t fool yourself. If they will take the time to “train” the Chinese they will not need to bring it back just to start all over again.

  5. Gregg:

    Let me answer your statements in order:

    1. “Your obvious lack for knowledge in general business shows”

    And what would that lack be? That I don’t understand that Vera Bradley is just like any other outsourcing company who sees profit as the bottom line? If Vera Bradley is expanding in Fort Wayne to accommodate business growth, then why not wait until the expansion is completed and then bring the production “in-house.” That would have allowed the four businesses impacted to remain open and their workers to transfer “en masse” to Vera Bradley. But that isn’t what is happening. The company will continue to increase outsourcing, and I will bet my cheap vinyl pocketbook on that.

    2. “They physically can’t hire on and train at the speed they need to.”

    So that is why you would spend time and money outsourcing? What a ridiculous statement, and whom are you trying to convince? There are plenty of workers to hire here right in good, old Fort Wayne. And they can be trained. What a lame statement. How is it Vera Bradley could spend considerable time and money setting up outsourced plants in China but couldn’t spend that same time or money here in Fort Wayne?

    3. “They have outsourced jobs for now, but we will get them back.”

    Please pull your head out of the sand. Those jobs are never coming back, and I will wager even more outsourcing will follow. Vera Bradley didn’t invest in Chinese plants and production with all its exploitive methods just to close down in a couple of years. Wake up and smell the coffee. And, as to your comment that they are smart business leaders – they sure are, they couldn’t resist jumping on the outsourcing bandwagon to increase profits through outsourcing.

    4. “I hope you don’t have a Coach or Versace…..”

    Absolutely not. You couldn’t pay me to spend money on these overpriced, non-essential items. People who buy Vera Bradley, Coach, Versace, are trying to impress someone although I can’t figure out whom that would be. Paying hundreds of dollars for a purse/pocketbook/tote/carryall is about as wasteful as American buyers can get.

    As to your last ranting paragraph. I have a full-time job, and I work 50 hours a week at a minimum. I also own my home and do my own work on it. Sounds like you are trying to justify what Vera Bradley is doing by attacking me and deflecting attention from what the company is doing – outsourcing. That is called an “ad hominem” argument, and it doesn’t work.

    As far as being a bitter “Betsy”, you don’t know me. I have never purchased a Vera Bradley product, and I never will. They are overpriced and look like large diaper bags. I love to blog, and I simply call ‘em as I see ‘em. If you can’t take that, then maybe you shouldn’t be reading my blog or any other blog for that matter.

    It really sounds like you might be either a Vera Bradley fanatic or a lucky employee who didn’t lose his or her job in this round of Vera Bradley closings.

    • Susan says:

      Maybe a little education in economics is in order. When businesses close or move operations offshore you can thank the representatives you elected and sent to Washington. The out and out war on the private sector by Congress is directly responsible for the layoffs of the employees that elected them. The draconian taxes and regulations that have been heaped on the private sector by the Government are what is causing the loss of jobs. Companies are not in business for the purpose of providing jobs for the community, they are in business to make a profit on the products they produce. If you want jobs in your community, elect people who make investment in business attractive by lowering taxes. When taxes are high, businesses contract. When taxes are low, businesses have more income left over to reinvest in the company which usually means the business will grow. There is no point in growing your business if the Government is just going to take a larger and larger percentage of your profits. This seems like common sense, but the idiots you are sending to Washington seem unable to grasp the connection.

  6. Where is this stuff made? says:

    Wow I am amazed about Vera Bradley’s stuff being made in China…they are always “praised” for keeping the work here in the US…Well I will get back out and look for another handbag maker that ACTUALLY is produced and designed here in USA!!!

  7. "Gregg" says:

    I am sorry we disagree so much on this. I feel the media exploited this to some extreme. Vera Bradley has a unique line of products, consumers either love the concept or reject any thought of it. Regardless VB has done wonderful things for the city of Fort Wayne.
    I do want to add one small footnote. The cost to outsource, train, and operate 46 jobs in China is comparable to 2 US workers according to the US Dept. Of Labor. You have to agree on some level that americans say they want jobs, but we have higher unemployment rates then any other country. The turnover for new trainees is higher in the midwest, then most other parts of the country. Since Vera Bradley opened retail stores over the last year the business has increased almost 36%. The little old ladies who sewed in shops of 50 could never handle the demand of the product. VB has to be ready to supply its consumer. Realistically this isn’t about being greedy and the almighty dollar this was about suppling for a greater demand on a quality item.

    Everything around us is from other countries now. Is it the best solution? No I agree not, but some things we cannot change. Workers don’t have the same ethic here as many countries. That makes your battle even more uphill. If quality and qauntity of candidates were trainnable and loyal, then maybe we wouldn’t have an outsourcing crisis!

  8. Gregg:

    I agree – although I haven’t checked out the figures – that it may be cheaper to train and operate 46 jobs in China than 2 jobs here. That is because China is not subject to the same human rights labor legislation or the same environmental standards that our companies are required to meet.

    Outsourcing is nothing more than exploitation of China and other countries which have very little or no regulation. This in and of itself should make Vera Bradley – of all companies – think twice about outsourcing. I say “of all companies” because Vera Bradley has traditionally been a company that seemed to care about how it treated its employees. Has it now taken a different view of employees?

    If employees are “out of sight, out of mind” and are farther removed in a foreign country does the company not care about the working standards or environmental standards (or lack thereof) that exist in those countries? Globalization may be a fact of life now, but globalizing should also require good stewardship of our planet and other human beings inhabiting it.

    The only justification for outsourcing is as you said “it is cheaper” thus increasing profits. The corporate bottom line is profit, and I imagine it will also remain so.

  9. "Gregg" says:

    Ps I am glad we both support Hillary! I am ready to make my vote matter!

  10. Matt says:

    It was inevitable that these types of jobs would eventually go somewhere else. But, to imply it is because VB cannot get decent, trained employees is just plain wrong. By closing locations here they put employees already possessing the exact skills they required into unemployment. Maybe they could not meet the increased demand, so the answer to totally close a plant here in N. Indiana and move the production to China where they will be required to hire and train additional people that they would not have needed to locally. Was it inevitable? Yes. Does it make business sense? Yes. But, to pretend VB has no accountability and is totally thinking of the good people of Indiana is madness.

  11. Heather says:

    All of mine say “Made in the Usa”. Even the recent ones. And I love my “overpriced large diaper bags”!! Impress someone? You must have a very sad life! Noone has to justify anything they buy. What are your opinions on alcohol or smoking? I would consider that to be more of a waste, than being a collector!!!

  12. Heather:

    It is my blog, and I am allowed to write about issues that I see. One of those issues is Vera Bradley and her outsourcing. When my brother and sister-in-law went shopping at a store in Columbia City that carries Vera Bradley, they checked out the labels. They also all said “Made in China.” Vera Bradley hasn’t outsourced everthing, so you probably will still find products that carry a “Made in the USA” label.

    You don’t have to justify what you buy – I didn’t ask anyone to do that – and I don’t have to justify what I choose to write about.

    I am somewhat puzzled by your statement that “You must have a very sad life.” How is my blogging equating to a “sad life?” I write about many different things. The fact that you don’t like one of my topics doesn’t give you the right to presuppose that I have a sad life.

    Actually, I think someone who spends ridiculous amounts of money on possessions must have an empty and sad life. Why else pay so much for status and to garner recognition? You know, the “Oh look, she has a Dooney-Bourke” (or insert whatever overpriced item you would like to insert).

    You have the right to buy your overpriced Vera Bradley items, and I have the right to chastise Vera Bradley for outsourcing.

  13. UNEMPLOYED says:

    Thank you Charlotte for telling Gregg how it is!
    What Vera Bradley did was so wrong in so many ways! It makes no difference what my age is, I was a very good worker for them for quite a long time, the pay wasen’t that great, but it helped pay the bills and the insurence was o.k. Now nothing but unemployment to look forward to, that won’t pay much of anything. What hurts so bad is how they did it!
    Sure they had sent things to China before, it came back here all messed up and we had to fix it! I also wonder what else besides V.B. products will come back in those boxes from China!
    It’s all about money for them!
    Thank you, keep up the great work.

  14. UNEMPLOYED STILL says:

    Well no unemployment checks yet from Vera Bradley! oops, I forgot you have to sell your soul or be from another country to get help in the good old U.S.A!! I have to pay a mortgage,utilities and add a few groceries to my house but no one cares!
    I was employed by Vera Bradley for a long time, was never late, missed very few days and before I had gotten hired I tried to get disability, they turned me down, twice! after I started working for V.B. a Burmese man told me his father in law was getting SSI and had never worked a day in th U.S. HELLO! what is wrong with this picture? the man is 10 years younger than me! We have to many non Americans here now and they think they can take over, we are in trouble! Don’t get me wrong, I get along with everyone and people need a chance, but stop riding over Americans! things are getting way outta hand!figure it out!!

  15. Russell says:

    Well I would just like to make a comment to the poster Gregg, it is amazing that you have the gull to tell others how they do not know what they are talking about. Because in your statements, your arguments do not hold water because there in disagreement with each other. In one statement you explain why they are moving to China is because they can’t meet their demand. Then in your very own next statement you explain the cost of training AMERICAN workers compared to the cost of training children in CHINA. But in the same breath your attitude says we the AMERICAN consumer should just agree and support and continue to buy the product. Well since this is America and we have the right to choose to buy or not to buy that should also be considered when making decisions based on bottom line profit, that you so clearly explain in your second statement was the real reason. Well you can make corporate decisions based on profit. But when done the corporation can also be held accountable for their actions by the consumer. The last time I looked the corporation’s consumer is AMERICAN!! But maybe they can sell them items to the Chinese workers they are currently employee but that is a big maybe. I have no feelings for corporations as they may have the same rights as me on paper they have no heart and the tide is changing in this country.

  16. UNEMPLOYED STILL says:

    Well, low and behold the unemployment checks have finally started as of last week and they are only $74.00 less than my pay from V.B. after the taxes are taken out, and I don’t have any insurance for meds or check-ups now, Lord I hope those people can sleep at night! I guess we are suppose to make our mortgage payments, pay our utility bills and buy groceries on this little bit of nothin’ we’re getting! I just don’t understand some people!

  17. Unemployed:

    I am glad to hear you are now receiving your checks. I look for Vera Bradley to move more manufacturing overseas, but I think she will do it slowly so as to not be any more noticeable than possible. After all, once corporations sniff that increasing bottom line of profit, why would they stop outsourcing?

    • Greggory Mankiew says:

      Vera Bradley is a corporation not a person; you should hence not use a the personifier “her.” Vera Bradley, the woman, never had any affiliation with the company aside from being the mother of one of the co-founders.

      Also, Vera Bradley is now a public company and has to appease the shareholders thus cost reductions. Outsourcing is a logical step for any company seeking to reduce costs. While it is sad to see domestic jobs leave, producing domestically would cost the company millions of dollars annually. This is simply the global economy we live in; not everyhting is depedant on the American economy anymore. I do not see many people complaining about the fact Apple’s iphone is made almost entirely abroad, yet it is the hottest phone on the market.

      Vera Bradley is not opening up shops or training Chinese workers. Vera Bradley has found manufacturing plants that were previously in existence. Vera Bradley simply makes a sample and mails it to the Chinese manufacturing firms. Not all outsourcing requires a firm to encounter direct investment in another country. Anybody could go online right now and find a manufacturing firm in China to produce just about anything.

      Furthermore, I do not think Vera Bradley only cares about profit maximization. Look at the amount of money the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer has raised for breast cancer research. The continued support Vera Bradley has on the town of Ft. Wayne is dependant on its continued success providing affordable luxuries. By the purses and handbags because you like them. You should not make the decision to buy Vera Bradley on its manufacturing orgins because everything else you buy is most likely also produced in emerging economies.

      P.S. Vera Bradley still employees thousands of people domestically. Its products also are helping to keep many ma’ and pa’ shops out of the red through its indirect sales partnerships with over 2,000 small businesses. The products produced in China are sold in small towns and big cities across the U.S. Those dollars are all a part of US GDP which are helping the American economy recover from the recession.

  18. UNEMPLOYED says:

    Thank you Charlotte, yes I’m getting the checks now and I used those and my stimulus check to pay my mortgage to keep my house, I guess ya gotta do what ya gotta do with what little ya have! Ha, very little humor there. I’m trying to refinance to lower the payments now. When I got the house good old V.B. had me working overtime so it wasen’t to bad, the they dropped this bomb on us!
    They have been sending their products to China for close to a year (that I know of) because we got back so many messed up stuff that part of the Summit plant had to go to another plant to fix them. They aren’t fooling anyone! all you have to do is look inside the bags to see which ones are made here. I won’t carry the ones I bought when I worked for them anymore. It just hurts me and makes me mad that people can be that way. Well enough boo-hooin’ for now, life goes on….Thanks, you do a great job listening and letting people vent!!

  19. Sian says:

    I don’t know how closely anyone is watching Vera Bradley these days but those jobs ARE indeed coming back to the area. Has anyone seen the massive plant out by GM? They are also getting ready to open a 4th facility in Fort Wayne.

    The plants that closed were where the company had their items sewed. They closed because the VB decided to bring that work in-house instead of outsourcing it to another company. (Almost always a smart business move). That, I know, has been a process.

    As someone in the staffing industry I can tell you that it is VERY difficult to find people who can run an industrial sewing machine and further sew at the standard that Vera Bradley requires. After all, no one would want to pay what they do for a handbag with shotty stitching. Consumers expect this product to be flawless and that requires quite a bit of training on those machines. I know they tried to give jobs to the experienced people who were laid off from the facilities that closed in the area, but many took jobs in other industries. So that leaves a big gap in skilled sewers and therefore a big gap in meeting production demands.

    I don’t claim to know everything (or really anything!)about when and how many bags were sewn in China, but I do know that they have been working diligently to staff skilled industrial sewers in their F.W. facilities. It’s a process and those jobs are, indeed, coming back to this area.

    So I think we should let cooler heads prevail here and remember that Vera Bradley does an enormous amount in this city to not only employ local workers as they go global but also to raise countless dollars for charity while sponsoring countless other events that are charity-driven. No one wants to see jobs go overseas but perhaps it was the only short-term solution. (Consider how much work is done in China, add that they have a population 5 times that of the US) and you can probably safely assume that they have more trained industrial sewers than we do. Without being in their staff meetings, one really doesn’t know what obstacles they were up against.

    I think they are doing their best to employ as many people locally as they can at a rate that allows them to keep up with production demands. Anyone who has followed the success of this company knows that they are expanding by leaps and bounds…and good for them! They are really pushing their west coast exposure right now which is just going to bring higher demand for the products and ideally more jobs to this area. Any business owner can tell you growth is great, but there are growing pains along the way and sometimes less than ideal solutions are required. I hope we can all appreciate that being a business owner is not easy…and being successful enough to employ anyone, especially at their numbers is even harder (nevermind our challenging economy).

    Fort Wayne has been quite blessed with the fruits of two very hardworking and creative ladies. I’d just like to give kudos where they are due. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water and instead celebrate the contribution they have made and continue to make to our community.

    By the way, all my Vera…made in the USA. :)

  20. Sian:

    Oh, where to start!

    Your statement:

    “I can tell you that it is VERY difficult to find people who can run an industrial sewing machine and further sew at the standard that Vera Bradley requires.”

    That statement makes me ask why they closed the suppliers who had been providing products for what – maybe 15 to 20 years? Wouldn’t those workers be experienced in running the industrial sewing machines as compared to opening a factory or factories in China?

    Does China have more “trained” workers? Maybe or maybe not. You know as well as I do that the only reason companies outsource is pure profit. The companies can exploit the low-paid foreign workers and participate in the destruction of environments that are not yet protected.

    I really can’t believe you would support such irresponsible actions by people whom you are lauding as so wonderful. Let me ask you this – do they not care about other countries and exploitation? Nope – their only concern is the bottom line, and that is profit. Or else they wouldn’t be outsourcing.

    I think you are not seeing what is happening. Vera Bradley is consolidating its facilities so that it can further outsource. That makes more sense.

    Your bags so far may be made in the USA, but I just received another one for a gift, and it said “Made in China.” Perhaps you have been lucky or have looked for bags that carry the USA tag so that you can say all your bags are made in the USA.

  21. Cincha Rucker says:

    Hi, Charlotte,
    Keep writing about VB. I started buying the bags last year, partly because I liked them, but partly because I was so happy to find a company that made items in the U.S….I hunted around last night and discovered your column and some other Fort Wayne articles. It makes me sick…I’d be more than happy to pay even more for them and employ out of work Midwesterners. For some women, it’s not a status thing–they just like the VB patterns.
    This company sounds just like Longaberger Baskets, a company out of Dresden, OH (close to where I live); the sisters who ran it got greedy, outsourced nearly all the jobs, and now no one around here wants anything to do with buying their baskets and related stuff.
    I’ve bought my last VB piece until they bring the jobs back.

  22. Pingback: How come you should buy Vera Bradley Small Duffel | Vera Bradley Outlet

  23. nino says:

    Oh my where to begin. I at one time loved VB. For years I bought their bags and they held up great. I have one that is 9 years old and it has started to fade a little but I promise you nothing like the crap they make now. For instance the Villager which was my all time favorite is now just plain cheap looking and cheaply made. The qulited handles are gone the zippers are not sewn straight and the fabric is thin and well cheap. All of this and to add insult it injury the price increased. I guess the good folks at VB just dont understand that they dont have to create more to keep sales up. In fact the harder it is to get something the more people want it and the price reflects this. Does anyone remember Cabbage Patch Kids?.. I live less than an hour from the small town in Georgia where these are made. I in fact have a real Cabbage Patch Kid that my mom paid over 200.00 dollars for in the late 80′s. When they first released the ones with the plastic heads people literally fought over them, and then they made more and more and more……and now go to any Walmart, Target etc no one wants them because they flooded the market. I dont want to carry a purse that is just like everyone else. VB made lots and lots of $. More than they will ever need in one lifetime. Outsourcing is just pure greed and an absolute marketing mistake. They may be able to make more but there comes a time when they flood the market and people will just move on to the next fad. It is a shame because they had a real following before enough of a following to manage to stay in business for over 20 yrs. Oh well greed will always take you down.

  24. Sally says:

    I purchased a Vera Bradley bag several months ago at Marshalls. I just assumed it was made here. When I got home I found the “Made in China” label sewn into the bottom of the bag. I returned it. The bag was microfiber, pleated and quilted. I called the company to complain and was told that their more “complicated” designs were being made in China. I guess they think American workers can’t sew anything “complicated”. I looked at several Vera bags in a local store last week. I couldn’t find one Made in USA. Every one was Made in China. No more Vera for me.

  25. Sally:

    What a cheap shot by Vera Bradley at American workers to say that their more complicated designs are being made in China.

    I also found that some of the labels are so tightly sewn into a lining that they are almost impossible to pull up and look at. I looked at several items at Borders and could barely get the label stretched far enough to see it said “Made in China.”

    I thank you for taking your bag back. Maybe if we all start doing some of these things corporations will sit up and take notice.

    I go to the Three Rivers Food Coop, and I asked the clerk to check the label for the reusable grocery totes. Guess what – those are all made in China. I explained my thoughts on how does it help save our overall environment if we do so in one place (here) by destroying another environment (China). The clerk actually stopped and thought about it and said she had never looked at it that way. She also said she would let the manager know of my concerns.

  26. Ida says:

    AS a retailer, you are pushed to buy lots more than your contract, Vera retires more than ever before and qucikly after a retailer has purhcased them…lending to the fact that the retailer is stuck with the now retired items whcih ppl won’t buy until you lower the price, so retailer loses money. Many retailers are backing out for this reason and for lowered sales due to move to china, ppl do not like that and have refused to continue to buy anymore.

  27. Ida says:

    AS a retailer, you are pushed to buy lots more than your contract, Vera retires more than ever before and quickly, after a retailer has purchased them…lending to the fact that the retailer is stuck with the now retired items which ppl won’t buy until you lower the price, so retailer loses more money. Many retailers are backing out for this reason and for lowered sales due to move to china; ppl do not like that and have refused to continue to buy anymore.

  28. Bonnie says:

    As Gecko said, “Greed is good.” But, honestly, I’m always baffled as to why these tacky bags are so popular?!? I suppose it’s the herd mentality that fuels the trend. Eh, I can’t speak, I own a few eccentric fashions as well (including items made in China). There’s nothing wrong with a business wanting to maximize profits, and the Chinese need to make money as well as we do. The buyer doesn’t have to purchase the product if they have an ethical reason not to do so. I’m fairly sure that Patagonia is one clothing label that makes everything in the U.S.A. But, then again, Patagonia doesn’t make tacky V.B. bags.

  29. "Bitter" Beth (not betty) says:

    ” If quality and qauntity of candidates were trainnable and loyal, then maybe we wouldn’t have an outsourcing crisis!”

    Loyal???

    1) outsourced by Lincoln National in 1998 (after 22 years).

    2) My help desk \ csr job was sent to India by GE in 2001. They flew them here, put them up at Cantebury Green, wined and dined them nightly, while we trained them to do our jobs. Even gave them a going away party with presents. We got a pink slip and a photo of them with our manager as a going away present.

    3) Not able to find a full time benefit job, left a 20 hr retail job, went to STI for 30 hours, (spin off of the old North Amercian) and within 3 months was let go due to an “account error \ headcount reduction”. PS. It took me 1.5 years to find another low paying retal job, and the economy wasn’t that bad yet.

    Regaridng my job at GE, the government came up with a displaced worker benefit — but it is only for “production” workes (NOT “office” or that is how I was labeled once being outsourced form a technical help desk job (FEMALE???).

    Oh, btw I applied to Vera Bradley and rejected! (That is along with applying to ACPL, Lutheran, Parkview, etc. Now, most employer’s, even temporary supplier’s won’t look at you unless you have consistent employment history !!!!!

    Regarding China, I just read that Pfaff (formerely German, now Sweden), as well as Husqvarna Viking, and the rest of Singer (SVP worldwide)–all is going to China. I’d rather buy German or Swedish, never China!

    • Greggory Mankiew says:

      Maybe you did not get the job at Vera Bradley (or any other company) because you are not qualified… go back to school and maybe you will be more qualified for something more than a help desk job (which are all being outsourced) Welcome to the global economy where services can be exported.

  30. Derek says:

    Wow. That is all I can say. So many angry people! I am not supporting VB for doing what they have done. But, without having a statement from them about their decision, no one can give a real reason. It is all speculation. Who actually knows what their % profit is? What is the tax rate they pay? What is the cost of their material, etc? I am not being mean. I am being objective. There are so many variables that could be responsible for their final decision. As for the skilled industrial sewing machine operators. With the large volume of products being produced I would have to believe that they would be more likely to have more experience. Whatever their reasons may be, it is their choice. You can refuse to buy the products or boycot them. Until you are a CEO or a COO you can’t make those decisions or act like you know what is best.

    I feel badly for all who lost their jobs and I wish you the best. I am also saddened by the fact they are outsourcing. I just hope everyone can do what they can to bring it back to Indy.

    Just my 2 cents. At work so can’t get into it much furthure until later.

  31. Derek

    Let me ask you this – what do you think their statement would be? Corporations are driven by the profit motive, so probably almost all decisions are based on maximizing profit. We are so captured and ingrained with the capitalism at all costs philosophy, that we excuse destructive actions made by corporations as perfectly acceptable because “after all that is their role in our economic system.”

    As to skilled? The 500 workers (by the way, I am not one of those) that lost their jobs had worked at those businesses contracted by VB for years and years. And they aren’t skilled?

    I am objective in this – VB made a decision based on profit-making potential. Do you think businesses outsource if they will lose money? Not on your life.

    What has happened to the notion that corporations should be good citizens? Corporate responsibility to a community and to its workers?

    I don’t need to be a CEO, etc. to know that the decision was based on greed and more profit.

  32. Nathan says:

    All of the workers in the US for Vera Bradley were laid off, including the managers who had been with them for years. The company that hired every single factory worker from Vera Bradley’s outsourcing, just to give them a job, was Cinda B. It makes a new bag that is just coming out and is made by only US workers. Check out the website for an American company.

    http://cindab.com/

  33. Margaret Russell says:

    I have some very nice older bags that I still use. As I only purchase “made in America” I am sorry to say I will not have any new Vera Bradley bags. I live in Fort Wayne and know that jobs are needed in the area. Shame on you!

  34. Susan Wydra says:

    Right this minute Vera Bradley bag are on QVC. Apparently the mass
    American market is not aware that this very pricey (hey, it’s cotton!) item
    is totally now made overseas!
    Not only did Vera Bradley’s people forget to inform everyone, but they forgot to
    lower their prices by 60percent. Let’s see, 2dollars worth of cotton and 20cents worth of hardware plus 54cents in labor? Wow. Not bad. Then they charge you 76 dollars or so for a small bag..38 for my credit card holder. I always said that thing cost under a dollar to make
    My daughter in law swears it’s all made here and that’s always her excuse for buying me this brand. Oh, she’s so done!

    • Hi Susan:

      Obviously, I am a supporter of American manufacturing. :-)

      I was stunned when I first found out that Vera Bradley outsourced. She always made such a big deal of being community focused. I had received a huge duffel bag years ago, and it had “Made in the USA.” In between receiving that and another smaller bag the next year, I began writing about outsourcing. Looking at “Made in …..” became a habit for me.

      Imagine my surprise when the following year I received another gift of a Vera Bradley bag that said “Made in China.” I then started looking at Vera Bradley products and almost every one in the stores said “Made in China.”

      What really made me suspicious of the chain of events was that Pat Miller, one of the founders of Vera Bradley, was the head of Mitch Daniels new Department of Commerce back in 2005. In that capacity, she traveled to Japan, China, etc. in 2005. And, coincidentally, a year later she began outsourcing. Am I able to connect the dots perfectly? No. But they are close enough together to draw a conclusion.

  35. Lynn says:

    I am a few years late in finding (and reading) this blog. I am a big fan of Vera Bradley purses. Have several. UNTIL, approximately 6 or 7 years ago, my husband and I purchased $25.00 tickets to the Vera Bradley sale in the Spring that is held at the Allen County Memorial Stadium. These tickets were supposed to be “special” tickets where a portion of the proceeds went to cancer and you were also supposed to be the first to get into the sale (a whole day ahead of others). My husband and I drove 3 hours to get to Ft. Wayne. When we arrived, we stood in line for over 1 ½ hours. When we were within maybe 50 or 60 people getting in, they stopped anyone else from entering. Why? They said the Allen County Stadium could only hold so many people at one time. I was, to put it nicely, STEAMED! We had to wait until quite a long time before other people left that others could go in. When we went in, there was hardly anything on the tables and we had to wait until others discarded what they didn’t want. When I got home, I sent Vera Bradley a letter that was not very cordial. Obviously, they must have known there was a limit on how many people the building would hold at one time, so they should have paced out the sale where it went from say 9:00 am to 11:00 am, then 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm, then 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. I told her I would never buy another Vera Bradley bag from HER company. I have bought a few from Ebay or at yard sales but Vera didn’t get any profit from me. Last summer, my friends and I were in a gift shop in Bloomington, Indiana that carried Vera Bradley. They started restocking their Vera Bradley and brought huge cardboard boxes in that were plainly marked “MADE IN CHINA”. First I knew that some were made in China. When I got home, I checked a couple of my used ones and I had inadvertently bought two that were made in China. Won’t happen again! I have also heard from a dealer that Vera Bradley Co. received Stimulus money while sending jobs to China but can’t verify that. Also, was told that she required dealers to buy expensive shelving units from her company when this dealer said her husband could have built the identical shelves much cheaper. She is letting her stock dwindle, then will no longer offer Vera Bradley. I did notice in today’s paper that Vera Bradley will be this year’s keynote speaker at Entrepreneurial Connection Day at the Kelley School of Business at IU Bloomington. She is supposed to share her story of creating Vera Bradley with her business partner. Wonder if she will speak on how many jobs were outsourced to China while laying off those in Ft. Wayne. Probably not!

    • Hi Lynn:

      If a few people a year find my post on Vera Bradley’s outsourcing, and it encourages them to change their buying habits, then I have made a difference and hopefully provided some valuable information.

      In my reply above to Susan, I noted the connection between Pat Miller’s trip to China, Japan, and the east on behalf of Mitch Daniels with the coincidence that approximately one year later she began to outsource.

      The profit Vera Bradley is making is horrendous. The price of the bags has not decreased one iota, yet the costs of production have decreased dramatically.

      I suggest checking out a company that has comparable products and prices but that keeps its production here in the U.S.

      http://cindab.com/

      CindaB has a factory here in Fort Wayne as well as several locations where its products are sold.

  36. Marissa K. says:

    I used to LOVE Vera Bradley but I agree with previous posters that I’ve been turned off due to the outsourcing too. There is another handbag company that I find comparable to Vera Bradley and just gorgeous. They ARE made in the US and the best part about them is that you can design your own! They have something like 100 different fabrics and their styles and quality are very similar to VB. A friend of mine sells them in NY but I’m sure you could find consultants in all parts of the country. Her website is http://www.Madisonhandbags.net/MDeSilva in case anyone wants to look at the catalog or check them out!

  37. keleee says:

    It’s sad…Vera Bags are just crap now and their greed has taken all the quality out of their bags. They stopped making my fav bag, The Betsy! I wrote on their website they lost my business as all their new bags are too small or too large and the new designs are garish and loud. Only high school or college kids would want such small bags in those colors! I really think they are going down in flames and they have lost all credibility with loyal customers when they sold out to China. I remember when my favorite leather bags called, Stone Mountain sold out to China and they went belly up in no time because they bags got smaller and quality leather was no longer used. I personally like quality and I will pay more for it. I also want a bag that is large enough to fit a full sized wallet and has built in organization. Beware of the Fair Trade sites that sell bags to help poor women in developing countries find good paying jobs. The stuff they sell on some of those sites is garbage and I feel that it is just a ruse to set up sweat shops and find cheap labor or to sell junk from China, not to help women in poor countries. Better yet try and find bags made in the US and keep posting sites to find them.

    • Greggory Mankiew says:

      $40 million in profits and steady earnings and growth this year say VB is not going down in flames… maybe you are just dating yourself.

      Talk is cheap. I wonder how many of you would really pay for VB products made in the US. It that is the case, I challange you to offer the cashier more money because the tag says made in the USA. VB still manufacturers products domestically so you have a chance to take me up on my offer.

      PS CindaB was started by a man who stole everything he knew from his time spent working at VB. I wonder how long it takes him to get “greedy” and go overseas!

  38. Gregg – you have no clue what you are talking about. I can only surmise you must be a Vera Bradley employee sent out to do its bidding. Or maybe you are getting paid in merchandise. In any event, you are simply babbling at this point. Cinda b – if you bother to check it out – was started by a woman in Atlanta, Georgia. http://cindab.com/about/about-us.html

    VB manufactures very little here anymore. How do you think it can truck in dozens of truckloads of merchandise and sell it for almost nothing? As to the “good works” it does, are they not tax deductible?

    And, I love the fact you acknowledge a corporation isn’t a person. I certainly hope you are joining the drive to pass a constitutional amendment to declare that corporations aren’t persons!

    • Greggory Mankiew says:

      Charlotte,

      I am neither an employee of Vera Bradley or being paid in merchandise, I am just sticking up for a business that I support since you are tearing it down. You surely must be a sales person for cindabm, slandering VB, if you want to accuss me of working for Vera Bradley.

      Regardless, you are right I did not mean to say “started by him,” I meant to say its new president, Art Mandelbaum, who was the ex-president of Baekgaard, owned by one of the co-founders of Vera Bradley. I wonder what else he learned from his relationship with the Baekgaard family! (maybe indirect retail partners, the lifestyle images on the website look an aweful lot like Vera Bradley’s website, etc.). He is quoted saying there are “many opporunities” for the company; I am sure one of them is growing the cindab name into an international brand, which will only be accomplished through outsourcing once demand peaks.

      Apparently previous comments, VB’s products are not cheap but in fact keep rising in price. Im sure part of it is frieght, overhead, and direct materials prices are all on the rise and cotton prices increased sharply last year.

      Do you work for the company and know how much the company still produces domestically? Even if it produces 25% of its products, that is 10′s of millions of dollars staying in the US along with the jobs used to manufacture those products and the jobs created to sell those products. Obviouisly, they must still be doing something right if they can doube the size of the warehouse and fill it with truckloads of products.

      I am not sure if the “good works” are tax deductible. The Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer is listed as a 501 (c)(3) and is not directly affiliated with the operations of Vera Bradley, Inc. For that, Vera Bradley, Inc. can not claim this on its taxes.

  39. Art Mandelbaum was an attorney with Carson Boxberger and did not start Cinda b’s. Either you are so upset ubout this topic that you can’t see straight or you just don’t care about accurate information.

    Please read the following article for background. There really isn’t any point discussing this topic if you aren’t at least going to make an effort to be informed.

    http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20120122/BIZ/301229953

    • Greggory Mankiew says:

      What I was trying to say was that I did not mean to say CindaB was started by a man. I tried to correct myself and state that he was the new president of Cinda B. Art Mandelbaum was also a lawyer as you pointed out, I was never refuting this.

      The point I am trying to make is this: Art was a co-owner of Baekgaard Ltd., with Barb Baekgaard and her late husband—also known as Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, co-founder of Vera Bradley. He has had a long-standing relationship with Barb and has observed her operational plans, as he served as the president of Baekgaard.

      http://cindab.com/blog/2011/12/05/cinda-president/

      Furthermore, if you look at any of the tags on Baekgaard’s products you will see they all say “MADE IN CHINA.” I would know I won several pieces of Baekgaard fashion accessories. This shows that he has an extensive history of outsourcing manufacturing to China. As president, he is quoted saying there are “many opportunities” for the young company. As president, I am sure one of those “opportunities” is growth and market penetration.

      With his already established background with outsourcing, market penetration and growth can be accomplished through higher supplies and cheaper products. It is supposition, but what I am saying is that it would not surprise me if CindaB strategy eventually pursued international manufacturing.

      As my final point, I would also like to point out that outsourcing can also lead to jobs being created in the good ole’ US of A. If VB had not become deeply penetrated in the market and decided to outsource some of its manufacturing, it would not employee nearly as many sales reps, open as many direct retail or outlet stores, nor be in over 2,000 indirect retail partners. The fact is, more jobs have been created through VB’s growth than would have been created had all manufacturing been kept on-shore. It can be frustrating when people do not full understand the benefits of a global economy and outsourcing.

  40. Greggory:

    For starters, here is your statement:

    “PS CindaB was started by a man who stole everything he knew from his time spent working at VB. I wonder how long it takes him to get “greedy” and go overseas!”

    That is a pretty clear statement. You had not done your research before you started responding. Although Mandelbaum was a co-owner, Barbara Baekgaard made the decision to close the company. And, of course, the products said “Made in China” – they were a company affiliated with Vera Bradley, and VB started outsourcing back in 2005-2006.

    Pat Miller, as Daniels’ new head of the Indiana Department of Commerce, made trips to China circa 2005 and 2006. Coincidentally, right after those trips, VB started outsourcing. I have three VB products – all given to me because I certainly would not pay the outrageous prices for outsourced products. The first bag I received because it was part of a display at a local company, and VB did not want the products back. A friend asked me if I was interested in the bag for free. It was an $85 bag, so I said yes. That was 2006, and the bag said “Made in the USA.” The next year the same thing happened, and I was again offered a product for free – a bag that retailed for about $50. I took it, and I looked at the label out of curiosity some time after I brought it home. That was 2007, and the bag said “Made in China.” In fact, the tag had been slit to make it more difficult to read. I was shocked. In the one year’s time, VB had started outsourcing. So I then started looking at products carried by local companies such as Barnes and Noble. All made in China.

    About two years later, I received a VB satchel as a Christmas gift, and the tag said “Made in China.” You are deluding yourself if you believe the reason VB outsources is to provide more jobs here in the U.S. Outsourcing overall has a negative job creation number. VB let go the three companies with 500 workers who had worked for VB for years. The owner of those companies then was fortunate enough to link up with Cinda B and is now producing products for her.

    Outsourcing does not create jobs. It eliminates jobs. And, how is it you are so certain outsourcing would have created jobs? VB was growing as it was. Outsourcing is simply a form of exploitation of foreign countries: workers are paid a dismal wage, human rights are violated in the work place on a consistent basis, and the environment is trashed due to lack of regulation.

    Outsourcing is based purely on profit. If companies want to outsource, then fine. But put a tariff or tax on them for doing so. And, finally, if Cinda b decides to outsource, you will see the same treatment on my blog as you see for VB.

  41. Oh, and many 501(c)(3) nonprofits are tax exempt and donations/contributions to them are tax deductible. I am president of my neighborhood association, and we are a tax-exempt 501(c)(3). Donations are tax deductible to our contributors. The VB efforts are certainly laudable, but the donations, etc. that come in are tax deductible as charitable contributions.

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