|When we were kids going to the hardware store, buying a drill bit meant asking the guy behind the counter to go to a big case with millions of different sizes of bits and get what you wanted. Of course he didn't stock brad point bits for wood, and you had no idea why anyone would want a 17/64" but it was comforting to know that it was available.|
Fast forward a few decades. The hardware store is closed, The local big box mostly carries blister packed bits from China in "popular sizes" and it's up to us on-line iron mongers to get you proper drill bits made for cutting cleanly in wood and wood like materials.
For years we only stocked a few sizes of bits, made in Germany, because the choice in European made Imperial sizes was underwhelming. About every twelve to fourteen seconds I get an email from some factory in China pointing out that they make the best drill bits and urging me to buy them.
When you order from China, or any place far away, you need to order in economical quantities. We know everybody likes a 3/16" drill bit so it's easy to order a bunch of those but what about 13/64"? Okay we all know that nobody actually ever needs that odd size - except when they do and therefore I have the following choices. Do nothing and just stick with large quantities of popular sizes; that's what all the larger retailers do. Or, I could order a few pieces of each size and hope we run out of everything at about the same time so we don't have one popular size out of stock for a long time.
When you are ordering from overseas the former solution isn't great for the demanding customer. And the latter solution means we will eventually run out of something someone needs right away. There is a third problem effecting some Asian makers. Unless you actually go to Asia and ride shotgun over your suppliers quality can be all over the map. For a small boutique company we just don't have the resources to have an agent in Asia. The fourth problem with European makers is that most of them have exclusive importers in the US who never stock every size, just the popular sizes. It costs more with a middleman because the importer needs to make a living too. Worldwide there are good makers, bad makers, and since the price of steel and machinery is pretty much the same worldwide, if you actually find something good, and consistent, it won't be that much less than sourcing stuff from North America.
And then of course the obvious point hits home. Why am I bothering with all this anyway? I'm a guy who tries to buy local. I shop at the green market. I get seltzer delivered from a guy in Brooklyn. So why am I wasting my time wondering what and who and how much I should be ordering from Asia or some middleman who doesn't understand my business. So the simple solution to all my problems is simple. Buy Local. And it's amazingly simple. I pick up the phone, dial a number, order drill bits in whatever size and quantity I need, and they show up. They are better made than anything I can buy internationally and since the factory is close by I can order all the odd sizes anytime I want to. I can give you, my customer, the widest selection (which will grow over time) and most important we keep the money in the family. It does cost a little more. We make less margin selling an American drill bit than an imported one. But I don't have to worry that I'm exploiting anyone, and I think I a getting a better product, and with the larger availability of sizes, I can get the product I want.
I should point out that we do import a few items from China and other countries in the third world and elsewhere. I have no plans to suddenly go cold turkey and stop. Certain items simply are either not made here, or the American company that makes them won't sell to us at anything resembling a reasonable markup. But just as we manufacture Gramercy Tools in the US, and we sell (for example) US made bar clamps that blow away the Chinese knockoff at just a very small increase in price, we figure you folks are savvy enough to understand the nuances of design that make the US made product a better deal, even if it's a larger cash outlay. We hope you support us and our manufacturers.
Check our our new drill bits made in the USA by W.L. Fuller of Rhode Island.
We have also just added a great pair of quick release vises and an inexpensive but real nice small vise both by Milwaukee Tool and Equipment Company to our catalog for the same reason.
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