Buying Belts—Just Try To Buy Something NOT Made In China!
April 07, 2011, 05:38 PM
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Recently I decided to buy a new belt for my pants because my old one is getting worn out. An ordinary black leather belt would suffice if it would fit my rather large sized waist. My only other criterion was that the belt should have a small buckle instead of the big gaudy buckles that everyone seems to wear nowadays.

First I stopped at Walmart and then Target because I like to get the best price possible. Those two stores had plenty of belts but none of them matched my specifications. I decided to work my way up the clothiers chain until an appropriate belt was found.

Next stop was to a Ross clothes store but they didn’t have much more than Walmart. Their belt selection was very limited and it seemed that every belt looked very similar to each other except for minor color variations and different brand names. Almost every one of them said Made in China. A few belts didn’t say where they were made so it’s fair to assume they are from countries that can make belts cheaper than China.

Not to be discouraged, I went to several more Ross stores and other similar ones, like Marshall’s but had no luck finding a decent belt. The prices were good though—as long as I wanted one of those wide belts with the gaudy buckles the prices ranged from $6.99 to $19.99.

I decided to stop burning gasoline by going to a medium quality store like JC Penney’s. Surely, I thought to myself, a store like that would have lots of belts. They did have a large belt selection but they all looked like the same belts that Ross had at a slightly higher price. Besides the color of black and brown, the major distinguishing feature was the brand name.

Enough already, I thought—it’s time to go to the mall and pay whatever it takes to get an ordinary men’s belt. Surely at upper end department stores there would be some belts made in the USA, Italy, or Mexico that would fit my needs.

First stop at the mall was Macy’s.

As I approached the men’s department my excitement increased as I caught sight of a multitude of belts on hangers. There must have been two or three times as many belts as any of the other stores I had visited. Finally my shopping journey could come to an end because it seemed that finding a good belt was just within my grasp. Unfortunately the only difference with the other stores was that the ones at Ross costs $9.99 while Macy’s costs $39.99. Several belts were even more expensive but didn’t look significantly different than all the others with the exception that there were a few more fancy brand names.

Almost as annoying as the lack of choice of belt styles was the limited supply of belts for those of us men that are bigger than size 32 waists—they were made for men with very thin waists. Apparently the Chinese manufacturers don’t understand that American men are bigger—especially around our bellies. Sigh…

My frustration was starting to build!

A man about my age (over 50) asked if he could help me find something. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Yes, I’m looking for a men’s belt that’s narrow in width and has a small buckle—not like these big gaudy rectangular things I see over there.

(I pointed to the racks of belts).

SALESPERSON: Oh, you mean those narrow belts that had small rounded buckles. The ones that were either black or brown.

ME: Yes, that’s what I want.

(The salesperson appeared to go into a state of deep meditation. I thought it was a bad sign that he had to think about the question for so long.).

SALESPERSON: I’m sorry because I know exactly what you are asking for—but we haven’t had those in a very long time.

ME: How come?

SALESPERSON: Because the fashion deities that decide what we are going to wear decided that men will wear wide belts with gaudy buckles.

ME: Can you think of any where else I might buy the belt?

SALESPERSON: No. All of our belts come through New York and all the stores buy them from the same suppliers.

ME: And the suppliers in New York buy all their belts from China, right?

SALESPERSON: Right!

(By this time another salesman joined the conversation. He was wearing a belt that was exactly what I was looking for. )

ME: You are wearing just the belt I want to buy. Where can I buy the same thing?

2nd SALESPERSON: I bought it while I was at an airport somewhere. I can’t remember where it was but it was many years ago. I haven’t seen anything like this one for a very long time. Hopefully it lasts me a long time.

All of this was very discouraging but I decided to not give up. Nordstom was on the other end of the mall so I walked over there to hunt for a belt. It didn’t take me long to find out that the Macy’s salesperson was right—every store has the same belts, from the same suppliers who all buy from the same factories in China. Nordstrom belts were no different than the ones at Macy’s but were $49.99 instead of $39.99.

While I was staring at the belts a young man came to help me. I chuckled to myself while thinking that he was far too young to know what I’m talking about, so I planned to leave as quickly as possible. Our conversation went something like this:

SALESPERSON: Can I help you find something?

ME: Yes, I’m looking for a men’s belt that’s narrow in width and has a small buckle—not like these big gaudy rectangular things here.

SALESPERSON: Oh, you mean those narrow belts that had small rounded buckles.

ME: Yes, that’s what I want.

SALESPERSON: I’m sorry because I know exactly what you are asking for—but we haven’t had those in a very long time.

ME: OK, I'll give up on the belt but I need something else. I have looked at every store you can imagine, and many you can’t, including many shoe stores—and yet I have been unable to find a store that sells a shoe horn. Most of them don’t have shoe horns and the ones that do only flimsy little plastic ones.

SALESPERSON: I know just what you are looking for and we have some. Come this way.

He took out a beautiful steel shoe horn that was just the right size. I was sure it would be made in China and cost $30. Much to my surprise it was made in the USA and was only $6.

I use that shoehorn every single day. The best thing about it is that I don’t have to bend as far to put my shoes on, and that means my pants won’t fall down because of my aging belt.

Since then I have been getting increasingly desperate to find a suitable belt. I went to about four Goodwill stores and several Thrifty’s. So far I haven’t seen a belt that’s different than anywhere else. Now you can’t even buy leather made in Italy or Mexico.