Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Made in China: Small Business Idea

Looking for a small, I mean really small, business idea?

This weekend, I had the pleasure of staying at a Marriott in another Great Lakes state. Our accommodation included VIP status and special perks, access to a concierge lounge with food and beverages throughout the day, etc. Our room rate, with tax was $144. So why were the cotton balls and ear swabs imported from China? Would little packs of domestic cotton balls and swabs really put such a huge dent in Marriott's profit margin at the end of a day?

This little pack of hygiene supplies struck me as absurd, insulting and alarming. You can be sure there are low-skilled workers in the U.S. who could produce little packs like this and would be grateful for the work. But their labor is too expensive. Think about that. Paying someone in the U.S. minimum wage to make little packs of hygiene supplies is too costly. Or perhaps the actual phrase is "not sufficiently profitable to be competitive in a global economy." I wonder what how the Chinese cotton ball packers live. I wonder what they eat and where they sleep.