So Vera Bradley has decided to close three Indiana plants and one Ohio plant in order to move production “in-house.” The decision to move production in-house was made, according to a spokewoman, to consolidate manufacturing and cut costs.   But exactly just what does “in-house” mean? When the term is used, it usually means manufacturing will take place in the company’s digs. Somehow I suspect that may not be what happens in Vera Bradley’s case.

The three plants that will close – Summit Production Systems LLC, Mercury Manufacturing LLC and Phoenix Sewing Inc. – are located in Fort Wayne. The fourth plant, KAM Manufacturing, is located in Van Wert, Ohio, and will discontinue most operations by the end of the 2008. 

Management states that it will keep production in Fort Wayne, yet the company’s new location is being built outside Fort Wayne city limits, close to the GM plant south on 69.  I guess that makes it easier to avoid scrutiny – out of sight, out of mind. 

Photo Credit: College

The company has transformed itself from an Indiana for-profit corporation organized in 1982 to its latest morphing into an international corporation formed in 2006.  Vera Bradley designs now operates under the moniker of “Vera Bradley International, LLC” and, of course, is outsourcing work to China. 

The outsourcing makes Vera Bradley just like so many other corporations who have decided that profit is king.  That means that Vera Bradley is now exploiting the cheap labor pool in China as well as adding to the environemntal damage occurring from China’s lack of environmental protection laws.  The following is a quote from Patricia Miller given during a speech in Greenscastle, Indiana, in October 2005:

“Doing business is all about relationships. It’s like anything else — it’s the people you work with, it’s how your treat them and how they treat you, and you want to do business with people that are honest, that are hard-working, that deliver for you.”

Three months before making that speech, she had already headed a trade delegation to Asia in the summer of 2005.   The company began outsourcing in 2006, and labels with “Made in China” began to appear in products by 2007.  Just when I thought the weather was improving, we get another snow job – and this one from a company that has long touted its ties to Fort Wayne and the local economy.  


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, Fair trade, Fort Wayne, Globalization, Outsourcing. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. not to play devils advocate, but here goes:
    suppose My man Mitch OR his campaign was made aware of this ladies “manchurian connections”, and so dropped her like a hot potato?
    suppose also that local citizens were made aware of the mass of foreign refugee, and perhaps illegal sweatshop sewing labor that was being employed by these 3 sub-contractors.
    also, lets suppose that the impending passage of the “illegal worker/business suspension” bill (which didnt pass, but theres a federal law on the books) and the implied threat of citizens complaints about tax evasion, or just Americans resentment of these swarm of refugees, who are like locusts at the food banks, produce trucks, and are mostly carrying infectious TB( transmitted by breathing) and other endemic 3rd world diseases; and of course good old xenophobia/nativism during hard times-
    suppose this was the impetus for Vera Bradley to jettison this possible PR nightmare?
    and not rehininr them , for a year- by then many of them will have left the FORT?
    yes to workers rights, caring for the earth, and foreign mfg/domestically owned-responsible for us laws that mfg goods for asian, african/eurpoean markets, and import back to the US.
    no to illegal workers, sweatshop labor, or local manufacturers who exploit workers.
    I’m not saying this is what happened, but its a plausible scenario.

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  3. cj says:

    I sold over $20,000/year of Vera Bradley bags in my small town shop. Last year, sales dropped to $11,000 and we were ‘dropped’ by VB without explanation, although the stated yearly ‘gross’ sales expectation according to their literature is $7,500. Corporate would not respond to my requests for discussion. Corporate expects their retailer’s to purchase their cabinets, $1500/piece and unfortunately, they don’t understand that there are other companies who sell competitive products. So, VB, focus on your BIG stores (even it was small-town America who put you on the map in Ft. Wayne), big sales and non-traditional fabric patterns. VB is a fad and will fade! Roots and small town America still matter. . sorry you lost your perspective.

  4. Jo Marks says:

    I will never-I repeat never buy another Vera Bradley purse-buy american and save our country and it’s workers.

  5. Iceironman says:

    She has given over 10 million to breast cancer research. That is more that I have done, how about you guys?

    It is so easy to eat the rich and find fault in others. She has provided jobs for folks, more than I have done. She has paid more in taxes in one year than I will in a lifetime. So, as to the eat the rich mentality, I say, Thank you Vera, thank you for showing young woman can be succesful, thank you for the jobs you provide, thank you for your MILLIONS in donations to help the sick, thank you for your tax money for the schools, thank you for your example to me.

    If you have a problem with things made in other countries, dont buy. In fact, take the initiative and kick her ass in sales of your oun product made in America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love buying products made in America, thats my choice. I am pro choice?

  6. Iceironman says:

    If I could outsource lawyer work I would do it in a heartbeat. Those greedy people need some competition.

  7. Pat says:

    Thanks for the truth. And interestingly most still don’t know this is the case. As for donations to Breast Cancer…another snow job. There has been mega amounts of $$$ thrown at Cancer and particularly breast Cancer in the last 40 years and there is no cure just more organizations asking for more $$$?
    The environment and health choices and stress are the root of all illness and immune system function malfunctions. Yet we keep giving $$$ to methods that eventually kill most cancer patients within a few years.
    It gets deeper, pharmaceutical companies and Monsanto are poisoning us and threatening to remove our ability to use food as our natural pharmacy.
    More is not better, non-profit doesn’t necessarily mean money well spent.
    Americans are full of heart, valor and loyalty and I love this country and my fellow citizens because of these things.
    Let’s as Americans add critical thinking and fact finding to our traits and stop believing the mass media.
    It’s hard to blame an individual or a company for what is being taught in business school and rewarded with government tax breaks and that is what is happening. How do you think this entire process started over70 years ago? This has been a long slippery slope and we are bottoming out.
    Too bad.

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