For a long time my concept of sourcing - basically order fulfillment - was all wrong. When I ordered a USB charger or headphones for my phone or MP3 player, I thought some little old lady in Texas headed over to a warehouse, put the item in a box, gummed on a few stamps, and sent the item posthaste. I'm sure there was a computer in there somewhere, but it was a pure transaction - item, box, mail truck, my door. Little did I know that everything in the world came out of a one-square mile gated complex in Shenzhen, China.
The area is called the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and it's an ultra-dense supernova of commerce. Items sold from the zone are shipped out through customs officials and you can't take a laptop or a phone in or out without proper paperwork. It is a capitalistic game preserve designed to allow ostensibly Communist China to enable ostensibly capitalistic suppliers to do business with the world while taking advantage of China's low wages and vast populace.