Referencing the title of my post, I kind of doubt it because of the difference in wages Americans make vs the Chinese.
But... I work in an industry that involves retail sales. I have seen first-hand how "some" but certainly not all retail works.
I sell a product we'll call Product X. When I started working where I work everyone where I work ordered this product from Company C. Company C sold the product for $190. Doing a little research I found out that Company C bought Product X from Company B. So I called Company B to find out if they would sell it to me cheaper. They said no, they cannot undercut the companies they sell to. OK, I get it. A little more research on my part and I find out Company B doesn't even make this product, they buy it from Company A and put Company B labels on the product. So I call Company A and they don't have a policy like Company B, and agree to sell me the product for $87. So I got the product for less than half of what we were paying before and now I'm able to offer the product to my customers at a MUCH cheaper price.
But keep in mind I only buy about 10-15 of Product X a year, so Company A doesn't offer me the "good guy deal." I'm sure if my volume was thousands of units per year Company A would come down quite a bit off of that $87 cost that I currently pay.
To summarize... Product X gets manufactured by Company A, they sell it so Company B that marks it up in price, Company B sells it to Company C at a marked up price, then Company C sells it to the retailer at a marked up price (AGAIN!) and the retailer marks up the price (AGAIN!!!). So Product X that probably costs $20-30 to manufacture ends up costing the retail customer nearly $400 (I sell them for less than half that because of my research and my special deal).
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that Companies A, B and C as well as the retailer all employ lots of people and all make money.
But what if... and this is where flashlights come in... what if a flashlight manufacturer in the USA decided to sell direct with no middle-men like Companies B and C or a retailer? The manufacturer would have to hire more people to process the orders but their sales would increase dramatically if they could sell the product for 25% of the former retail price. Company B and C would lose money but Company A would make the same money and be able to offer their product at a much cheaper price. Heck, Company A might grow so big that they could employ everyone that used to work at Companies B and C and then some.
Think about it. If you could go to Maglite.com and order a 350 lumen light for $20 and have it show up a few days later, wouldn't you? If Maglite (or any other USA MFG) made tens-of-thousands of them at that price it would be a win-win for everyone.
I know, I know... if they just did internet sales it would hurt the retail store sales. But even if they offered a 350 lumen light for $50 at a retailer lots of people would still buy it.
Off my soap box now, thanks for reading. And no, I'm not an economist. Just an average guy thinking out loud.