A visit to the Tom Bihn factory is a curious blend of past and present. Small shops where the managers and workers have been together for long periods of time and the owner/designer is always on premises are increasingly rare, at least in the US. I found seemingly happy workers cutting nylon and stitching bag parts. And why not? They had plants, windows, and a management team they seemed to know and trust. Some workers are rotated so the tasks don’t get too repetitive, but with the tremendous variety of TB products it’s doubtful anyone gets too bored. The materials and designs are modern and TB has a huge, interactive web presence, but the factory ambience is definitely from another century - in a good way.
Located in a revitalized industrial area on the edge of downtown Seattle, TB shares the neighborhood with Safeco and Qwest pro stadiums, lots of nice restaurants, outdoor shops, and the Filson factory store (a somewhat similar operation which you may also want to visit). It’s an easy bus ride from the airport. Check the Tom Bihn website if you intend to visit because the showroom is open on a limited schedule. Here are some photos from my visit: