The other day a friend of mine called to say that she had purchased a sheet set of 1,500 thread count 100% Egyptian Cotton sheet set for $38.00. As the owner of an online store selling bedding and sheet sets, I perceived a bit of a glimmer of “gotcha” in her voice. In these economic times and with all of the suppliers scratching for any business at all I supposed that just possibly she had stumbled upon the one outfit desperate enough to sell below cost and normal profit margins.
I asked if I could see the product and the packaging and we agreed to meet at one of my sheet set suppliers to review the product she had bought for $38.00. My supplier is a reputable distributor and an experienced hand in the bedding business dealing in comforters, throws, duvets , duvetcovers, sheets, and all manner of woven products. In the course of her career she has developed a touch which can fairly accurately analyze a product simply by rubbing the fabric between her fingers.
Thread count is indicative of a product’s quality, durability, softness, and maintenance characteristics such as wrinkling. Egyptian Cotton is, with the exception of some Pima Cottons, the best cotton in the world for sheets. Egyptian Cotton actually comes from the Nile region in Egypt. The name has been so abused by manufacturers that the Egyptians have created a triangular symbol which may only be used on verifiable Egyptian Cotton products. Look for it the next time you are buying a product claiming to be Egyptian Cotton.
Without knowing the issues which brought my friend and me to her office, my supplier took the sheet between her fingers and within seconds declared that the fabric was three hundred thread count, possibly four hundred. We explained that it had been sold as a 1,500 TC. She laughed. I laughed. My friend did not laugh. Not because she had spent $38.00 under the delusion that she had succeeded in a major buying coup, but for the fact that she had been cheated.
An inspection of the packaging provided little evidence of the provenance of the product. The pitch words, Egyptian Cotton, 100%, 1,500 TC, were there, but basically the labeling lacked any professional or legitimate information regarding the manufacturer’s contact information. We did agree that the product probably was a 300 TC product and as such it would be serviceable. My friend did in fact take the sheets to her home and washed and dried them three times just to see if there was any obvious deterioration. There wasn’t, so she had bought a useable product, but not the elegant one she had been lured to buy.
The message here is that when you find a product promising unusually high quality at an unrealistically low price—know who you are dealing with. Understand that from the get go, a manufacturer of high quality products is not going to offer exceptionally low pricing. Also, throughout the process, there is a mark-up for the costs associated with each step plus some sort of reasonable profit. And real quality does carry a commensurate price.
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