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Archive for January, 2011

This website - http://www.AmericansWorking.com - is a great place to find American-made versions of practically anything you are looking to buy.

It came to my attention recently that I have spent a little too much time talking about the importance of buying American and not enough about how to actually do it.  Well, let me rectify that.  Here’s how I find and buy the things I need American-made.

The first thing you need is a website that you can use to find American-made versions of the things you will be buying.  The website I use for this purpose is: www.AmericansWorking.com.

I really can’t express how useful this website has been to me.  It has hundreds of products all organized by product category.  In my experience, I have been able to find the vast majority of things I have been looking to buy through this website.  I recommend saving it as a favorite location in your web browser, and going there whenever you are considering making a purchase.  A link to this website is also featured on the Buy American Challenge homepage, so you can find a link to this website by coming to this blog.

Once you know you are looking to buy a certain item (a pair of jeans for example), you go to www.AmericansWorking.com and find what you are looking for on the product directory located on the main page.  Under a link called “Apparel Made in the USA,” you can select from specific categories of American-made clothing including: women’s clothes, men’s clothes, children’s clothes, jackets, jeans, leather wear, motorcycle clothes, and work wear and uniforms.  Select one of these, and you will be led to a list of American-made brands and online vendors that sell American-made brands of clothes.  You can either use the online vendors to buy what you are looking for right then, or you can make a note of the brands that are made in the U.S.A. and look for those products at stores in your area or elsewhere online.

I think you will find that buying American is actually very easy, and it actually doesn’t cost more than it would to go to your local mall or department store. In fact, I have saved money since I started buying American because I always find good deals and I rarely make wasteful impulse purchases anymore.

To continue my example of buying a pair of blue jeans, once I selected “Apparel Made in the USA,” I selected “Men’s Clothes Made in USA.” I then chose a vendor called All USA Clothing.  This company is based in West Bloomfield, Michigan and has been in business since 1970 and they specialize in clothing made in the U.S.A. I was able to find a really nice pair of jeans for $34.99.  Shipping at this website is free.  That’s a pretty good deal.

This is the way I make a lot of my purchases, especially for items that I know will be difficult to find made in the U.S.A.

I have chronicled a lot of my American-made purchases on this blog over the last several months, but the following are just a sample of the things I have bought this year which are made in the U.S.A.:  Clothes, shoes, ties, a baseball cap, winter accessories, furniture, all my groceries (with a few exceptions for things simply not grown in the U.S.A., like bananas), GNC supplements, coffee beans (Kona coffee), beer, wine, cigars (rolled in Miami), home goods, bottled water, a shower-head, razor, tools, flashlight, batteries, office supplies, candles, etc.  The list goes on and on.  All of it has been American-made.

I hope this little explanation of how I buy American will be useful to you.  Please let me know if you have any difficulty locating American-made versions of the products you are looking for.  I’ll be happy to help you locate them. 

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

P.S. If you are looking for a great American made clothing brand, check out Made in USA Threads!

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Although clean-up and other costs associated with the Gulf oil spill total $40 billion, that is less than the U.S. monthly trade deficit.

Here’s a statistic worth pondering.  BP announced in November that the cost of the Gulf oil spill had reached $40 billion.  Even though this was one of the most costly man-made disasters in history, the total sum is less than the average monthly trade deficit for the United States in 2010. 

Sometimes it takes a figure like this to put some perspective on the massive size of our trade deficit.  The enormous costs included in BP cost estimate included cleanup, government fines, lawsuits, legal fees, and damage claims.  As expensive as the oil spill disaster was, it pales in comparison to the cost, and the job-displacing economic impact, of the U.S. trade gap.

In the first 11 months of 2010, the United States incurred an average monthly trade deficit of $41.7 billion.  Our country is on pace to surpass $500 billion trade deficit for the year.  That figure represents a one-year 33% increase in our nation’s trade gap.  The U.S. trade deficit currently exceeds 5 percent of our nation’s GDP, a truly unprecedented sum. 

People are wondering why we have no jobs; well, this is the reason.  We simply cannot expect to create jobs in this country when so much of our nation’s wealth is disappearing overseas because of our growing trade deficit.  If we are ever going to get our economy turned around, we need to find a way to even out the balance of trade.  We can each do our part by buying American.  Buying goods made in the U.S.A. creates jobs for those making those products, and it keeps America’s wealth circulating in our economy, creating even more jobs.  In fact, buying American is one thing any American can do each and every day to help our country. 

Buy American.  Our future depends on it.  Take the Buy American Challenge today.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Donald E. Haag, from Henrietta, New York wrote an essay that was published yesterday in the Henrietta Post.  In the essay, titled “When buying, think ‘Made in the USA’,” Haag calls on American consumers to restore jobs in our country by buying American.

“We, the American consumers and workers, must stop looking for others to restore our jobs,” says Haag.  “The burden is on us — you and me — to put America back to work.”

Haag rightly argues that buying American, though more difficult than it used to be, is still something we still have the choice and the ability to do.

“Many items are no longer Made in the USA. But, for now we still have a choice on many items such as autos and auto accessories, tires, large appliances, ladders, tools, sneakers, shoes, clothes and furniture,” says Haag.  “Many of these products are superior in quality, features and/or price. In fact, the Made in the USA label still is attached to $1.5 trillion worth of goods produced by American workers!”

This is just a couple excerpts.  Check out the full version of his published essay by clicking here.

I think this was a very well-articulated argument that is very accurate.  We can’t keep looking for others to solve our country’s economic problems.  We each need to look within ourselves and start making choices that are going to be good for our country.  Are we going to get everyone in America buying American? No.  But we don’t need to get everyone for our efforts to be a success.  But we do need to get the people that are already inclined to buy American because they have strong sense of patriotism and/or the means to do it.  These people will be happy to buy American if they are reminded of its importance.

Please consider taking the Buy American Challenge today.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Jennifer Bryant, an All-American entrepreneur, is pictured here with her two children. Jennifer's online retail store sells only American-made goods for babies and small children.

Jennifer Bryant is an all-American entrepreneur.  A work-at-home mom from Huntersville, North Carolina, she runs an online retail store called All-American Baby, which sells a wide range of items for babies and young children, and all of the products she sells are made in the U.S.A.  She runs her business while she is not chasing after her two beautiful children, ages 4-years and 18-months.

Jennifer and her All-American Baby business are being featured because it is precisely the kind of business that we need to see thrive in order for a buy American revival to take place in this country. 

Jennifer competes in an industry that is dominated by imported products.  While other retailers have passed on American-made blankets, bibs, and strollers for less expensive (and frankly, cheaper) imported products, Jennifer has built her business around offering only the highest quality and safest products on the market – products made in the U.S.A. – which she sells for a reasonable price.

Jennifer’s business is critical to the buy American movement for a few reasons.  First, by demonstrating a genuine loyalty to American-manufacturing, she has helped maintain domestic production of the products she carries. If those plants close, we simply might not be able to find American-made versions of the baby items we need anymore. 

Second, she has assembled a wide variety of American-made goods for a specific market all in one place. It won’t take a lot of searching; if you want high quality American-made goods for your baby or small child, go to All-American Baby and you are probably going to find what you are looking for.  I wish more businesses would adopt this approach.

Third, she offers her products online and not mixed in with lots of items not made in the U.S.A.  Let’s face it, American-made goods are sometimes hard to find.  Having one website with lots of American-made selection to go to for all your baby needs makes it incredibly easy to buy American.

If you are shopping for a baby or small child, please check out All-American Baby.  They have really great stuff.  Also, please consider passing along this website (www.All-AmericanBaby.com), or this story, to anyone you know that has, or will soon have, a baby.  It may be just the kind of baby store they have been looking for.

When I contacted Jennifer about doing a story on her business, I asked her a few questions, and I was hoping to get a quote or two from her responses.  However, I enjoyed her story so much that I decided to include the full transcript.  Here it is:

When shopping for your baby, except nothing but the highest quality, and safeset products available. Find them at http://www.All-AmericanBaby.com.

Randy: When did you start you All-American Baby business?

Jennifer: All-American Baby was started in 2007, about a year after my first child was born.  When I took time off from teaching elementary school to raise my daughter, I found that being a mother is the most fulfilling job I could have ever imagined.  But in the process of searching for the highest quality, safest products for her, an idea was beginning to grow in my mind.

Randy: Why did you choose to sell only items made in the U.S.A.?

Jennifer: I personally wanted only the highest quality, safest products for my children, whether they were toys, blankets or clothing.  It seemed especially important to be able to rely on the quality and safety of a product when considering a brand new baby.  In 2006 and 2007, right after my first child was born there was a rash of recalls for lead-tainted children’s products that were made overseas.  With those recent safety concerns and recalls of toys, blankets and other children’s products, I found myself wanting to get “Back to Basics” for my children’s sake. I wanted to have toys that would challenge their minds and encourage developmental growth (that’s my 15 years as a teacher coming out!).  I’m sure you remember from your childhood, the toys that don’t require batteries, but instead use imagination, creative thinking, and problem solving. I also wanted the quality and safety of these products to be unquestionable (that is definitely the mother in me!). These ideals became my beacon, and American-made toys and products fit perfectly with this ideal.   At the same time, especially since I’d had children, I‘d become even more aware of the importance of social responsibility, and the need to support our own nation, the workers, and the economy.  I think for me having children was an epiphany that made me so much more concerned with the world around me instead of my own immediate, convenient needs. My search for the perfect products was long, but the products were out there.  I wished for one place where I could find this variety of safe, American-made toys, and quality American-made baby products.  I knew there were other parents like me who would prefer to buy American-made products if they could find them. So the idea for All-American Baby was born.

Randy: Do you think a business needs to sell imported goods to make a profit, or can it be done selling goods made in the USA? 

Jennifer: I think a business can be profitable selling American-made goods!  That is certainly our business plan!  Speaking specifically to our industry, there are definitely enough American-made baby and children’s products out there to keep us well stocked.  But there are certainly some additional challenges that have to be considered.  One thing that we have realized is that since the US-made products that we offer are of much higher quality and come from much smaller manufacturing companies than their foreign-made counterparts, this sometimes translates into a higher initial cost.  When consumers are comparing two products, if they consider price alone then they may not be buying from us.  But the right consumer will consider not only price, but quality, safety, and durability, and the American-made products will make the most sense.  How many times will you buy and replace that cheaply-made imported toy, when you can pay slightly more up-front and have a toy for your child that is not only safe and fun, but could be an heirloom because of its quality and durability?  There are also some limitations on certain types of products that we offer because it is hard to find US-made versions.  A lot of baby “gear”, such as strollers, playpens, stationary play centers, etc., is not made in the USA.  There are alternative ideas (such as playmats, baby carriers, baby rocking seats, etc.), but parents have to be flexible.   Another thing we have learned is when working with American-manufacturers, often products have a longer lead time than if we were purchasing from large importers.  We have to plan ahead!  But we have enjoyed the personal relationship we have developed with our American manufacturers over the years.  I think the key to success in a business that is focused specifically on US-made products is finding the right customer traffic; consumers who care where the product is made.

Randy: What would happen to your business if we had a list 10 million Americans who want to buy American that we could send information to about your business?  i.e. if 10 million people were coming to your site with their buy American baby needs, what would be the impact in terms of profitability and job creation for your business?  Would you add employees?  Would your suppliers have to increase production? 

Jennifer: What an amazing sight that would be!  I’d be happy with just a fraction of that!  We would definitely be adding A LOT of employees, renting more space, expanding our warehousing and distribution channels.  Not only would our current suppliers have to increase production (and thus hire additionally themselves), but there are many additional manufacturers that we would be able to add to our vendor list…and yes, they are out there!  In addition, with that kind of attention and purchasing power, there would be a lot of new manufacturers ready and willing to produce more baby and children’s goods here in the USA.  If every family with young children in the US just agreed to purchase one US-made toy or children’s product a month instead of the imported version, just imagine the difference that alone would make!  The key is getting the information out there to the consumers that yes, these US-made products ARE available! 

Thank you, Jennifer, for your help with this story and for running a business with a truly inspiring set of values.  You are truly an all-American entrepreneur!

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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The Buy American Challenge took an important step forward this week with the establishment of a Twitter account, a key tool necessary for minute-to-minute communication of news and information about buying American.  The Twitter name for Buy American Challenge is “BuyAmericanChal”.

Twitter will be a very useful to Buy American Challenge because there is so much information about buying American that is relevant and worth sharing, but time does not allow for a full story to be written about it on the Buy American Challenge blog.  Through Twitter, that information can be shared without the necessity of a dedicated story on each bit of information.

I encourage you to become a follower of Buy American Challenge on Twitter.  Please come and join in our discussion about buying made in U.S.A.  And if you know others who might be interested in following Buy American Challenge tweets, please pass our Twitter account information on to them.

This is just another step in our mission to get more Americans buying American-made goods and creating jobs right here in the U.S.A.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Dr. Stephen E. Hershey and members of his staff show off their pride in using products made in the U.S.A. in their Waterford, Michigan orthodontics practice.

Buying American goods is a straight-forward process.  Simply look where the items you are considering buying are produced, and buy American-made versions of those goods whenever possible.  It’s that easy.  But can we apply the principle of buying American when purchasing services?  

Absolutely.  In fact, some of the most important times to think about buying American are when you are considering the purchase of services.  Most people buy goods on a regular basis – like weekly, or even daily.  We purchase services far less frequently, but when we do, we tend to spend more money all at one time.  And whenever we spend a lot of money at once, it is an opportunity to have a big impact on American job creation by buying American.  Here are a couple examples of services that can be purchased from businesses that buy American. 

Let’s say you are getting braces for your child.  You might consider finding an orthodontist that buys American, like Stephen E. Hershey Dentistry located in Waterford, Michigan.  This business has gone to great lengths to use American-made products in their orthodontic practice.  Kudos to Dr. Hershey and his staff for their commitment to using products made in the U.S.A. whenever possible. 

Let’s say you are having an addition put on your home.  You might consider hiring a contractor that buys American, like Southern Crafted Homes located in the Tampa, Florida area.  They were featured recently on FOX 13 in Tampa for their commitment to buying American and creating jobs in the U.S.A. 

Southern Crafted Homes, the group that built the home seen here, uses products that are made in the U.S.A., and often made locally, to build their homes.

“Growing up, I was always taught to buy American,” said Jim Deitch, Chief Operating Officer of Southern Crafted Homes.  “Buying American means we keep the money in our economy. Buying American supports American companies.  It goes to our core values and we feel strongly about that.”

Deitch has written letters to executives of large companies to congratulate them for buying American.  He says it’s a patriotic way to do business.  He also says buying American is good for the consumer.  Many businesses in his industry chose to buy cheap imported drywall, which consumers experienced major problems with when chemicals in the drywall began smelling like rotten eggs and causing numerous health concerns for those living in homes that contain the defective drywall.  Deitch’s company uses high-quality American-made drywall.

Supporting a contractor that buys local and/or buys American – like Stephen E. Hershey Dentistry and Southern Crafted Homes does – is a great way to apply the principle of buying American when purchasing services.  It creates American jobs at a time that we need them the most, and in some cases, it acts as safeguard against cost-cutting measures, like the use of harmful imported drywall.

It might take a little extra homework to find vendors that buy American, but it is worth the time to do it.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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I realize I recently wrote a piece on Girl Scout cookies being made in the U.S.A., but I had to do a little write-up on this as well. 

The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. announced recently that their uniforms will continue to be made in America following a public uproar over reports it was considering bids from overseas manufacturers.

Girl Scouts spokeswoman Michelle Tompkins said the organization had been contacted by parents, members and volunteers urging it to keep the uniforms made in the U.S.A. She said the contract hadn’t been awarded but the bid request had been modified to require that the uniforms be made domestically and that companies adhere to strict guidelines regarding worker age, treatment and safety.

“We thank the many Girl Scout parents and volunteers who stood up for their beliefs and showed our 2.4 million girls that every voice makes a difference,” Tompkins said. “They are the role models who help build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.”

In a story first published in Woodland Park’s Herald News newspaper, the owners of the factory said the loss of its sole client could mean layoffs for its more than 90 workers and could force it to close.

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. calls itself the world’s pre-eminent organization dedicated solely to girls. It says it helps girls build character, values and leadership skills for success in the real world.

What better message to teach young girls than the importance of buying American?  Keeping those uniforms made in the U.S.A. saved American jobs at a time that Americans need them the most.  I hope that Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. will make a point of communicating why they are sticking with American-made uniforms throughout their organization. 

Kudos to Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. for making a really great decision and standing by their core principles! 

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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