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Something I Didn’t Know

There was an article in the N.Y. Times a few weeks back (“A Pro-Business City Policy Backfires on a Few,” Terry Pristin, Oct. 11, 2006) about a big real-estate deal in an industrial section of Brooklyn that will seriously raise the rents on a couple dozen businesses there. As a real-estate article, it was pretty standard fare. But one detail caught my eye. The article describes the work done by one of these businesses, called M. Franabar Associates, which “corrects mistakes in bulk orders arriving from manufacturers in China – the upside-down labels, the incorrect price tags and the missing bar codes.”

There is an accompanying photograph with perhaps 10 workers, all of them women, laboring over stacks and stacks of what look to be picture frames. I would really like to know what kind of manufacturer mistake necessitated the intervention of M. Franabar Associates. But more broadly, it got me to thinking about what other sort of “correcting” businesses might exist, or perhaps “repurposing” businesses that take a product that has for some reason become undesirable and turn it into something better. It is obvious that U.S. manufacturers make similar mistakes, but I am guessing the fail rate is higher in Asia. This seems to be an interesting wrinkle of global trade, and I am wondering if any of you know of other instances of such brush-up work being done.