Almost unnoticed, the Dan River Inc. textile mill slipped quietly under the waters of the global economy. Dan River was best known for its bed-in-a-bag comforter, bed skirt, and sheet sets. It’s hardly news when a U.S. textile mill ceases production, but this time it feels personal. Virginia-based Dan River filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in 2004, and emerged from bankruptcy a year ago, only to be purchased by an Indian firm this year. The small paragraph in The Washington Post (Metro Section, January 15) read like an obituary: “Plant Closing to Cost 500 Jobs.”
Gujarat Heavy Chemicals, which bought Dan River last month, plans to idle the Virginia mill and move the remainder of production overseas where it is cheaper. Maybe U.S. labor and environmental standards will be applied, but how will we know?
As with Timex, Pfaltzgraff, Levi and others before it, the brand will survive but the American jobs will not. There will still be Dan River comforters and sheets, but they will be made in China, India, and Pakistan. I wonder if consumers will even notice? In March, nearly 500 former Dan River employees will line up at the unemployment office and I will keep reading labels and looking for products still made in USA.