One RV company reinventing itself by selling handbags will no longer make them.
Decorator Industries in Goshen, Ind., announced it will only focus on pleated shades and door products. Besides purses, totes and handbags, DI produces pillows, bedspreads, and drapes for RVs, according to WNDU-TV, South Bend.
The company made 2,000 bags in three months, but company officials said they weren’t “cost effective.” An announcement was posted to its website on Thursday (May 14).
Now two women familiar with the RV industry will take over the handbag production. A location for production has not been determined yet. The bags will be called the original DI bags. The new company plans to still use material from DI and rehire workers.
“Even though they are going out of it, we are continuing with it. We will continue employing as many as we can plus others things we are venturing out with it with what we can find,” explained future owner Marla Wilkinson.
Decorator Industries will make the bags for another week. Bags will be sold until DI runs out. They can be bought at a dozen stores in the northern Indiana and southern Michigan area.
“I think it is still a good idea. People are still going to think I’m helping this economy and we have to do that. Too many things come from China, too many come from out of the country. We need keep our people working,” says Karen Pletcher, owner of Balloon Express where they sell the bags.
A northern Indiana company that made window coverings and bedding for recreational vehicles has switched to purses and shopping bags now that the market for RVs has soured in the economic downturn.
Decorator Industries hopes to recall several dozen laid-off workers as it begins making the new products at its factory in Goshen, an area that has been battered by layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry, according to the South Bend Tribune.
The area’s 18% unemployment rate in February is up 12.5 percentage points from a year ago.
“We have all this fabric that isn’t moving, and we have sewing and cutting machines. We wondered, what can we sew? What can we do?” said Donna Gould, sales manager.
“We had to come up with something to keep our company going,” she said. “Some of our RV customers work one week and are down two. It’s very sporadic. Others are not back yet from Christmas break.”
Gould got the idea from a tote that was sent to her by a fabric supplier. After sharing the idea with the staff, employees brought various bags and purses from home and started playing with various designs at the plant.
They designed and made prototypes of 10 products, including shopping, tote and carpet bags as well as purses. The company then offered the bags to local stores.
“We’re one local company helping another local company and the economy,” said Pam Mitchell, who plans to stock the bags at her Gingerbread Cottage stores in Mishawaka and Elkhart. “They’re bringing people back to work to make these bags. How great is that?”
Decorator Industries merged with Elkhart sister company Specialty Window Coverings to trim costs in the fall, and by the end of the year the combined company — once employing around 200 — was down to 35 workers.
With dozens of bags ranging in price from $30 to $35 on order, Decorator Industries has already called back a few laid-off employees to help fill orders.