American-made tables are generally considered to be better-made, better-built, and better-playing than imported tables: particularly when compared to Chinese or Asian tables. Is that universally true? Not necessarily. Are American tables more expensive than the imports? Not necessarily. Is it important? That may be more of a political question, and possibly a matter of price. I personally do not have a problem with imported pool tables – they tend to offer a good value. I do have a problem with dealers who lie about their tables. If they lie about that, what else are they lying about?
Certainly it’s easy to make a knock-off table that looks like a genuine name-brand table. In fact, several of the old-time name brands don’t even make their own tables anymore, they just import them! It’s pretty universal that no one wants to admit where their tables are made, just in case you might care. If you don’t care (and certainly, some of my readers do not care) skip on down to the next section: Cloth. If you do care, we’ll examine at what to look for and how some people pretend that their imported tables are American.
Imported tables are often available “customized” to your specifications by mixing-and-matching three or four stain colors, a few body styles, and perhaps four or five leg styles; one from Column A, one from Column B, etc. That makes them seem to be American. However, each of those parts are in separate boxes in the warehouse, so you “customize” by loading different boxes into the truck. Obviously, American tables can offer the same options, but American-made tables should normally also offer an unlimited selection of woods and stain colors; including custom-matching your table to your dining room set. Leg varieties should be much wider, and rail combinations in terms of species, sight shape, and material could be endless. After all, if the table company is actually making the table themselves, nothing stops them from making it out of any wood; stained any color that you want. Your interior decorator would probably care about that more than you do – but it does help you sort out the real American tables from the fakes.
Does the actual table and its factory-printed literature say the actual words “Made in USA”? If it does not, it probably is not. Is it a unibody table or a KD table? Generally American tables are unibody and KD are imported. Why? Because it is much cheaper to ship KD bodies a long distance on a ship when they take up less room.
Does the table brand or its models have patriotic-sounding names? So do the biggest importers! Does the retailer have “Buy American” signs on their tables or in its advertising? Remember when 60 Minutes caught the giant super-marts doing that over Indonesian clothes? That still doesn’t tell you anything.
Do they have a photograph of their giant building in the United States? Sure. Does the table or literature have an American address? Of course, all the importers have an American warehouse. The really big retailers take their containers directly from China, Malaysia and Vietnam, but smaller retailers buy from the distribution warehouse in the United States. Here are some other possible translations:
Designed in the United States: We emailed photographs of American tables to Asia and told them to make us something just like it.
Engineered in the United States: They sent us a diagram back of how they want it to be assembled. We made them change it to be cheaper to make.
Built or Assembled in America: Actually, it’s going to get built right in your house and you live in America, right?
Over 150 Years of American History: We have lots of American history, we just stopped making our own pool tables in 1985.
Made in USA: Actually, that really does mean made in the United States. It’s the onlything that actually does mean made in the United States.