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Sky: I priced Gibson and Fender guitars just the other day. IIRC you play as well. You may know that we (overseas) get search results from manufacturing outlets where these products are 'really' made. What I found was that a $5,000 U.S. spec model could be had (with a valid serial number) for 1/10th the price and $50 worth of geographic specific pick-ups and a $50 set-up job from a local luthier who does phenomenal work (WAY better than Gibson's Custom Shop IMVHO)
That's part of the issue too. People pay too damned much money for brand recognition ... and the brand no longer carries a guarantee of quality with it. I buy $5 silk ties that have no label on them. They're far better quality than the Salvatore Ferragamo's that are literally twenty times the price. ... and my family back home wonders why I 'appear' to have more money than they do.
January 21, 2014 – ECONOMY – Two of the largest retailers in America are steamrolling toward bankruptcy. Sears and J.C. Penney are both losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter, and both of them appear to be caught in the grip of a death spiral from which it will be impossible to escape.
There are several other sources on the net that are basically saying the same thing. The face of America is changing and you have to wonder what some of the shopping malls will look like if they both do go out of business.