With that being said, I have pieced together my home gym first by function with basic flooring, rack, bench, barbell, plates and dumbbells. Function has expanded to include crossfit, strongman and cardio training. Finally, miscellaneous items were added for convenience and decor in the form of storage, timers and core benches.
I was a bit of a brand snob, always seeking out premium brands such as Rogue Fitness, Concept2 and Eleiko. This was a consideration for resale; as my light home duty use would not cause equipment failure, whether they were cheap Walmart weights or premium Rogue Fitness plates.
I got hooked on vintage Made in the USA after coming across some York roundheads and then picking up vintage York 45's, 35's and 5's. At this point, I would certainly like a full set, but cannot seem to find 10's or 2.5's. On a whim (and since they were in stock), I grabbed some current Made in China 2.5's from York and have to say that the quality and finish is very impressive. The accuracy leaves a bit to be desired and they weighed in at 2.593, 2.562, 2.561 and 2.521 pounds. I could care less about a accuracy of +4%/-0%. On change plates this is especially a non issue. Even my Eleiko change plates were 2.544 and 2.547 pounds each (those retail for for $48/pair vs $10/pair), but they do look oh so choice.
As it turns out, Made in the USA does not mean that much to me, but provenance still does. If I bought equipment from a Mr. Colorado or from Zuver's Hall of Fame Gym, I would regard it as something special even though functionally it does not matter to me. In fact, I will often seek out local crossfit gyms that are clearing out equipment. The color on my ab bench seems to indicate it came out of Aspire Fitness and my back extension started off at Impact Sports Performance, before residing at Regis University and then to my garage.
I do appreciate best in class design and will continue to seek that out. My Eleiko 20kg bar was Made in Sweden. If I buy a powerlifting bar, I will probably opt for a Texas Power Bar. Rep Fitness equipment is all imported from overseas. Rogue Fitness is a mix, but they strive for Made in the USA. I sought out Raptor because they are a local Colorado fabricator, but I have no idea where they source their steel. I still seek premium brands such as Powerlift, Sorinex, Rogue Fitness, Iron Grip, etc, but am not always willing to pay premium prices.
Sometimes variety is just as important. For example in filling out my dumbbell set which currently stops at 35#, I would like to add Pro Style dumbbells, Thompson Fat Bells and Iron Grip dumbbells. In a perfect world, I would find 40's, 45's and 50's for $2/lb in secondary markets. If I were willing to pay $3-$5/lb I could always buy retail.
There is something to be said for a matched set. There is also something to be said for an interesting yet functional home gym.
This post was prompted as I debate when (not if) to buy SYQQ collars. I love the design and back story and do not care that they are currently fabricated in China.