The collapse of the housing market in 2007 and the subsequent recession turned out to be a boon for China’s brush exports. With far less construction and far fewer jobs, not as many people needed paintbrushes (or brooms or toothbrushes). Those who did need them chose cheap imports over more expensive products made in America. Retailers, who stood to make more from the cheaper products, jumped at the opportunity to sell them. Now everyone in the business has to account for the Chinese.
That’s a familiar story for U. S. manufacturing. The strange thing here is that there are still more than 200 brush, broom and mop makers in the U.S. These companies have employed two strategies to stave off Chinese competition: 1) change everything all the time, or 2) don’t ever change a thing.