Tag Archives: manufacturing

LOS ANGLES: A guy with a great idea, 99 Cent Store founder dies

Dave Gold, the founder of one of my favorite stores anywhere, has died of a heart attack at age 80, in the middle-class home he lived in for decades, despite his millionaire net worth.

His 99 Cents Stores, which he began right here in Los Angeles, spread to finally include some 300 outlets.

More than that, it opened a concept that immigrants have copied ever since: the __-Cents store — could be 98, 97, 1.29, whatever. They’re all over L.A.

All of it was made possible by globalization, particularly the entry of China into world manufacturing.

I love going to 99 Cents Stores. You can buy duct tape, radishes, cat food, Halloween candy, canned beans, and books that never sold by folks like Charles Osgood or some football player.

Every store has a million things that can be used for kids’ art projects. And you never have to ask anyone how much something costs, saving you time as well as money….

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Filed under Business, California, Global Economy, Los Angeles

GLOBAL ECONOMY: The world’s largest shoelace manufacturer


I’m in Portsmouth, Ohio, on the Ohio River, which has been through a lot.

Mostly that’s involved a prolonged period of economic decline, with companies going out of business. It also has to do with a harrowing increase in Oxycontin abuse and now addiction to heroin.

I passed this big building, which was in its day home to MitchellLace, once the world’s largest shoelace manufacturer.

According to what I’ve read online, MitchellLace had at one time 1200 bobbins, made 73,000 different kinds of laces and produced 120,000 pairs of laces a day.

That was a long time ago, though. Portsmouth has gone from a population of 55,000 to less than 25,000 today.

In one shopping center, a WalMart shares space with the smokestack to what was once a steel and coke (coal) plant, employing 5,000. Talk about poignant transitions.

Many of the old industrial buildings, beautiful brick structures, are empty. This one, as it happens, is not quite one of them. There are offices on its first floor, which I’m told acts as an administrative office for far-flung shoelace production around the world.

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Filed under Global Economy

FOR THE RECORD: Is losing manufacturing jobs inevitable?

If so, why have other developed countries, with high wages and developed safety nets, lost far fewer than the US?

This study, from the Brookings Institute in DC, argues that manufacturing job loss is not inevitable, but requires an industrial policy that the US lacks.

The US lost 41 percent of its manufacturing jobs to overseas between 1979 and 2009, according to the Brookings authors.

Other developed countries — Canada and Germany, principally — lost far fewer, though with higher wages and, I’d suspect, higher taxes. Manufacturing allows Germany a trade surplus, they argue.

They argue also that manufacturing jobs are crucial to a country’s continuing to innovate, a crucial thing in the 21st Century economy. Keeping manufacturing here allows the kind of nuts and bolts experience with production processes that leads to innovation. A similar and compelling argument is also made by Thomas Friedman, whose work and approach I greatly admire, in his new book, That Used To Be Us.

All very interesting stuff, I find.


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Filed under For The Record