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Custom New Balance running shoes Georgetown University blue and grey.

Custom New Balance running shoes in Georgetown University blue and grey.

Here’s an idea for an awesome gift for the sports fan in your life.

New Balance makes running shoes which can be custom tailored to match the exact color scheme of practically every NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, etc. team in existence.

Not only that, New Balance will embroider the back section of the shoes directly behind the heels with a custom message of your choosing.

Imagine custom made Florida State University shoes in garnet and gold that read “Let’s Go Noles!” Or custom made New Orleans Saints shoes in gold and black that read “Who Dat?”

There is nothing cooler to wear to the big game than these custom New Balance shoes. Your favorite sports fan is sure to love this gift.

And I know that from experience.

I got a pair of these custom New Balance shoes (see pictured) for my wife and she absolutely loves them.

We are huge fans of the Georgetown University Hoyas basketball team, so naturally we designed my wife’s shoes in Hoya colors, navy blue and grey. And we embroidered the backs of the shoes with the classic Hoya cheer, “Hoya Saxa!”

My wife wears them to every Hoya game we go to and she is complimented on them often.

Best of all, these one-of-a-kind shoes are reasonably priced from $139 and they are Made in USA. That means if you buy these shoes you will be creating jobs for workers right here in American at a time that so many need work.

You can design your custom New Balance team shoes by clicking here.

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

Randy

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Made in USA DVD.pngMade in USA: The 30 Day Journey,” Josh Miller’s new documentary is an inspirational reminder that the words “Made in USA” still matter. While Americans from Main Street to the halls of Congress struggle to cope with our sputtering economy, Miller reminds us that the answer to reclaiming a prosperous future may lie in the long-forgotten rallying cry to “Buy American.”

As Miller demonstrates in his month-long trek across the United States, a sure-fire way to create American jobs is to stimulate demand for American-made products. While conventional wisdom once told us the jobs that left our shores would never return, as is so often the case, that conventional wisdom is now being turned on its head.

The film shows that in many industries, companies that stuck to their American-made roots are now thriving, while firms that made the decision to off-shore are realizing the advantages of sourcing from low-wage countries like China are being eaten up by rapidly increasing wages in those countries. Once you consider the other disadvantages of off-shoring, such as increased shipping costs, higher inventory costs, and extended time to get products to market, in many industries the benefits of overseas production are now being outweighed by the costs. As a consequence, America may be primed for a serious jobs recovery.

In the film, Michael Araten, CEO of the toy company K’Nex, whom Miller interviews, makes the most compelling case that the U.S. is poised for job creation in the manufacturing sector and that the Buy American Movement can help facilitate it. “What I see happening is that consumers care more and more where stuff is made; businesses react to consumers,” explains Araten. “As demand picks up for [American-made products], then [businesses] will find more ways to [fill that demand].”

The economics of it are truly very simple – consumers demand American products, and companies hire American workers to produce those products. While few would question that basic premise, many would question whether promoting the concept of “Made in USA” is worthwhile. Jobs, after all, will come back when the economics demand it, not likely before then. But in the film, Miller makes a compelling case that buying American is effective enough to be worthwhile and is the patriotic thing to do by interviewing those that have been laid off due to factory closings. We are reminded that every time a factory is shuttered, it is real American families that suffer, and Miller lets us hear from these folks. But the film doesn’t just highlight this problem; it also gives us a solution – we can reverse this disturbing outsourcing trend by using our collective purchasing power to create jobs here in U.S. The film makes it clear that America needs to get serious about buying American right now, before another factory closes and another small town, like the one Miller grew up in, is devastated.

One aspect of the film worthy of applause is the non-partisan approach to the topic that Miller maintains. The importance of buying American resonates with people from all kinds of political backgrounds. As divisive as politics can be, Miller was smart to steer clear of any overtly political messages. It would have been very easy for Miller to let some of his personal political views creep into the film. In my view, that would have only been a diversion from the true message of the film: Our economic future is in our own hands, and we can have a better future by buying American.

I also love the way the film ends (I’m not giving anything away here) – with unique question that Miller poses to the audience. His question strikes right at heart of the problem the Buy American Movement has struggled with for years. The American people are as patriotic as they have ever been, but even the most patriotic people often don’t make an attempt to buy American, even though it will help our country to do so. When it comes to patriotism and consumer behavior, the rhetoric and the actions are simply not aligned.

Here is Miller’s question: We’re willing to die for our country, but are we willing to buy for it?

If more people would ponder Miller’s question seriously, I think we would see the Buy American Movement really take off in this country, and that could lead to the economic recovery in America that we have all been anticipating, but have yet to experience.

Made in USA: The 30 Day Journey is a must-see film. You can get a DVD for $19.99 by going to the website for the film: http://www.usa30days.com/

Get your copy today.

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Oakley Sunglasses 2The warm weather has finally arrived, and it’s time to start spending more time outside. Whether it’s at the beach, in the backyard, or at a baseball game, a good pair of sunglasses is a must-have this time of year.

If you are looking for a new pair of shades be sure check out Oakley sunglasses. Not only does Oakley make many of the coolest sunglasses ever designed, they have superior eye protection, they’re competitively priced, and most (if not all) of their shades are made right here in the USA.

I’ve been a huge fan of Oakley ever since I was a kid. During the mid-nineties, there was a period when it seemed everyone in my entire high school was wearing Oakley sunglasses (or Oakley knock-offs we called “Foakleys,”). The brand had recently introduced their iconic e-wire design and the trend (in Miami, Florida, anyway) was to wear sunglasses indoors on your forehead as you walked around from class to class. It seems a little silly now, but at the time, that was the thing to do.

Ever since that time, Oakley has consistently been a leader in the sunglasses industry. The company, headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California, has been a frontrunner in eyewear innovation and currently holds more than 600 patents for eyewear, materials, and performance gear. They have had design after design become best-sellers, and they have earned their position as one of the most recognized and coveted brands in the industry.

I recently entered the market for a new pair of shades when I broke the sunglasses I had been wearing for several years.  Having never even researched sunglasses since committing to buy American a little over three years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. Would I even be able to find American-made sunglasses? And if so, would they be reasonably priced and look good? I was ecstatic to find that Oakley – my favorite brand of sunglasses – are made right here in the USA.

In my research, I could not confirm that all Oakley sunglasses are American-made. Many accounts online suggest that all their sunglasses are made in America, but others say that a few of their designs are imported. Nonetheless, the brand has many different styles that are manufactured domestically (in California), and you can identify them because the words “Made in U.S.A.” are stamped in raised letters on the inside arms of the frames.

In my search, I considered many different Oakley styles, and the decision on which pair to go with was tough. In the end, I chose a pair of polarized Oakley Pit Bull sunglasses.  They look and feel awesome, and they can be purchased for around $130. I’ve had these glasses for a few weeks, and I absolutely love them.

By the way, the fact that I’m from Miami and I bought “Pit Bull” glasses is purely coincidental.

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

Randy

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American-made flip flopsI just saw that there is a Groupon for Okabashi sandals going on right now and I wanted to share it with you.  The deal is for $30 worth of Okabashi merchandise for just $15.  This bargain is too good to pass up.  I already got mine, and I’d jump on this deal too if I were you.

If you aren’t familiar with Okabashi, I hope you will be soon.  They make very comfortable and high quality flip flops.  Since I first tried them a couple years back, I have purchased three different pairs in different styles and colors.  They are by far my favorite brand of sandals.

What I like best about Okabashi is the quality construction of their flip flops.  Unlike most sandals, Okabashis are made from a single piece of stamped rubber, as opposed to different pieces of rubber that get joined together or uppers made of different materials sewn to rubber bottoms.

In my experience, Okabashis hold their shape perfectly and never flatten out like most sandals.  They also have true arch support.  I found I can walk around much further in these sandals than others I have owned in the past because of the support they provide.

My wife loves Okabashis, too.  She really likes to have sandals that match her outfits in the summertime, so she just loves how this brand comes in practically every color of the rainbow.  Some of their sandals for ladies also come with a 1” heal, which is pretty rare in a flip flop.

Okabashi is a family owned business that has been around for more than 25 years. Besides being made in the USA, Okabashi shoes are 100% recyclable, designed with superior foot support and a massaging insole, anti-microbial, dishwasher safe, and backed by a 2-year guarantee.  And at less than $20 per pair, Okabashi sandals are a really great value.

This Groupon for Okabashi ends in just three days.  Don’t miss this chance for a really good deal on some of the highest quality American-made sandals money can buy.  Not only will you love these flip flops, but you will be creating jobs for American workers when you buy them.

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

Randy

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I want to introduce you to Bullet Blues, an up-and-coming brand of premium designer jeans for men and women that is on the cusp of becoming the next great American denim brand.

What sets Bullet Blues apart from the stiff competition in the denim jeans industry is the extremely high quality of their product and their unwavering commitment to using American labor as well as American-made materials to construct their clothing.

Let’s face it, in this era of global supply chains and rampant outsourcing, there aren’t many clothing brands left that can make that kind of claim. 

Many iconic American brands of jeans that were once proudly made in the USA – think Tommy Hilfiger, Polo, and countless others – are now made in factories overseas.  And while clothing made by brands like these are often adorned in red, white, and blue – suggesting American patriotism in every way – when it comes to investing in American workers, most brands check their patriotism at the door in favor of heftier bottom lines.

Not Bullet Blues.

As the rest of the denim jeans industry continues to move toward outsourcing, Bullet Blues is moving in the opposite direction. They currently make every pair of their jeans in the USA, and as they ramp up production, they are committed to keeping every pair made right here in America.

As Bullet Blues Founder Isabelle Benoit explains it, their brand’s two best selling points – superior quality and American construction – are closely related.  It’s not just that Bullet Blues happen to be extremely well-made and constructed in the United States; they are extremely well-made because they are made in the USA.

When Isabelle was establishing the Bullet Blues brand, she decided early on that her clothing would be made in the USA.  But as she began to sample fabrics and make prototypes of her designer jeans, she quickly realized that she simply could not do the kind of quality control she demanded from half-way around the world.  The quality of her product depended on her close oversight of the entire production process and quality American construction.

The end result was spectacular.  Bullet Blues are true designer jeans.  That means they have superb design, superior construction, and a great fit.  Just the qualities you would want in your new favorite pair of jeans.

Let me make this clear: When I talk about Bullet Blues, and what great pair of jeans they are, I’m speaking from my own personal experience. 

I’ve owned a pair for about six months, and they are the best pair of jeans I own by a long-shot.  They look great, which makes them my go-to jeans for a night out on the town. But they are also very comfortable.  They are quite simply the best pair of jeans I have ever owned.

If you are looking for a great pair of designer American-made jeans, give Bullet Blues a try.  Ladies can buy a pair of Bullet Blues from M.i.U.S. Collection, a wonderful online boutique featuring a superb collection of American made clothing and apparel for women, by clicking here

If you try these jeans, I’m sure you’ll love them, and your purchase will be helping a small business that is committed to growing and creating jobs in the United States.

That’s the kind of company I want to support.

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

Randy

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Recently, I decided it was time to buy some new suits.  When I made that decision, I had a feeling that these were going to be costly purchases.  You see, I am committed to buying American, and I thought I might have to pay a substantial premium to get quality suits that are made in the U.S.A.

But I am glad to say that my preconceived notion about the cost of buying quality American-made suits was completely wrong.

After a brief internet search I came across an American-made brand of suit called Hardwick, an extremely high-quality suit that, get this, can be had for under $300.  Reviews online for Hardwick suits were great, so I bought one immediately.

It just goes to show you that American workers can still compete in industries that many have long given up on.  Let’s not continue to make that mistake.

Let there be no mistake about this: Hardwick suits are extremely well-made.  They are easily the full equivalent (if not the superior) of imported suits I have purchased in years past from fine department stores and men’s clothiers – suits for which I’ve typically paid as much as $400-$500.

The Hardwick suit I purchased is beautiful charcoal grey made of 100% worsted wool, and you can just see and feel the quality of the suit when you put it on.  I’ve worn it just a few times, and I get positive comments every time I wear it.

Hardwick’s quality comes from over a century of experience in the industry and superior craftsmanship of their suit-makers.  Founded in 1880, Hardwick is proud to be the oldest private-held apparel manufacturer in the United States.  They make all of their fine men and women’s clothing in Cleveland, Tennessee. The company performs all cutting, sewing, and distribution from this location where they employ about 400 people (seen below).

Kudos to Hardwick for remaining loyal to their workers in Tennessee.  Their product is of better quality due to the fact that it is American-made.

So where did I actually buy my Hardwick suit?  I got it from an online retailer called MensSuitSeparates.com.  This retailer had the best deals I could find anywhere for Hardwick suits.  They’ve also got good deals on American-made Neil M shoes and American-made Gitman Brothers shirts.  MensSuitSeparates.com is one-stop shopping for a professional man’s wardrobe needs.

After I found MensSuitSeparates.com online, I called them up with a few questions and got all the information I needed with quick and friendly customer service (Thanks again, Carl!).  I placed my order, and had my suit delivered to my front door in just a few days. There was no charge for shipping, and the online retailer offered me 100% money back for returns in case there was any problems (there weren’t any).

I really like Hardwick suits because in addition to being really well-made and sharp looking, they offer suits sold as separates – which means you can get the specific size of jacket and pants that fit you best, instead of getting the right sized jacket with pants that are way too big.  the suit I ordered fit so well when it arrived, the only tailoring I needed to have done was to hem the pants.  I’ve found buying suits as separates will save you a lot of money in tailoring.

This was the first suit I have ever purchased online, and I have to say, it was a great experience. In the past, I always bought suits in stores because I thought it was necessary to try suits on before I bought them.  But then I realized this really is not necessary.  I buy the same size suit every time anyway, then I take the new suit in to my local tailor for small alterations.   When you buy suits this way, there is literally no difference between buying a suit in a store and buying them online.

No wait.  Actually, there is one difference.  You can get better deals online.

My experience was so good with MensSuitSeparates.com and Hardwick that I have just put an order in for two more suits.  I can’t wait until they show up.  For the first time in my life, I am going to have a rotation of American-made suits.

Maybe it’s just me, but that makes me proud.

If you are in the market for a new suit, consider buying a Hardwick, and give MensSuitSeparates.com a try.  You can find the link to MensSuitSeparates.com on this site at all times under “Good Vendors.”

Hardwick suits are simply a cut above the competition.  You could not find a better suit for a better price anywhere.  And when you buy a Hardwick, you will be putting Americans to work at a time our country needs jobs the most.

Let’s spread the word about Hardwick suits and see if we can double their business.  With 10.1% unemployment in Bradley County – the county in which Cleveland, Tennessee is located – the people living in this area of the country could sure use 400 new jobs.

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

Randy

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(This is a repost from an article I wrote several months back, but since Christmas is around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to repost it.)

Buying American when gift-giving presents an interesting dilemma.  A person may be passionate about buying American when purchasing items for their own use, but how does that apply when buying gifts for others?

I have been in this place many times in the last year, and my advice is to use your best judgment and err on the side of buying gifts that the gift-recipient(s) will actually enjoy above gifts you might buy because they are made in the U.S.A. 

The guidelines of the Buy American Challenge say that buying American only applies to you.  It does not apply to friends and family you might be buying gifts for.  So, if your nephew asks for certain pair of imported sneakers for his birthday, just get them and don’t even worry about it.  Refusing to buy gifts that are not made in the U.S.A. has the potential to anger people who do not particularly care where the things they want are made.  Although I do not share that point of view, I respect people who have it, even if they are a brother, daughter, or significant other.

This changes when the gifts are intended for you.  If you would only buy goods made in the U.S.A. for yourself, why shouldn’t you ask the same of people buying gifts for you?  When I have a birthday coming up, and I know people will be shopping for me, I always circulate a list (electronic list with links) of American-made things I would like to receive as gifts.  Not only does this make things much easier for friends and family buying gifts for you, but it also ensures you will get the American-made things you really want.  It also allows you to price-shop online ahead of time to save those buying gifts for you some cash.  Most importantly, it is a great opportunity to educate the people in your life about all the great things that are made in the U.S.A.  In my experience, people are generally happy to buy gifts that you have suggested for them to buy, and they are generally pleasantly surprised at all the high-quality, reasonably-priced, American-made things on the list. 

Actually, regardless of whether you buy American or not, I suggest sending gift wish-lists out. Putting out a list of potential gifts is a win-win for everyone.  Nobody likes to wander through the mall, picking things up, and trying to find something you think a person might like.  A list takes all the guesswork out of it.  Just be sure that it is clear your list is of options for potential gifts, and not a list of all the things you expect to get for the occasion.   My first list I sent to my family raised eyebrows when they thought I expected to get every gift on the list, and I had listed about 20 things listed. 

One important thing to keep in mind is that American-made goods sometimes cost more than imported goods.  You may have received a $30 pair of jeans in years past from a certain person.  If you send them a list of American-made gifts, make sure the list consists of items in the $30 price-range.  Don’t send them a link to $100 American-made jeans and expect them to buy those for you.  By the way, this is just an example of the kind of predicament you might discover.  In fact, American-made jeans can be found for $30.  Here is a link to beautiful pair from a great company called All American Clothing: http://www.allamericanclothing.com/products/AA301.html

One time you should go ahead and buy a gift made in the U.S.A. for someone else is when no specific gift has been requested and you are reasonably sure that an American-made gift will be liked just as much as an imported good.  I don’t think my dad particularly cares what brand of jeans he gets as a gift.  So if I know he wants jeans, I would absolutely buy a pair of American-made jeans for him.  This is another great opportunity to show those around you what great American-made products there are available.  Maybe some of these gifts will turn into brand loyalty and/or increased interest in buying American.  Don’t miss the opportunity to give American-made gifts when the chance presents itself.

Here is one final thought on buying American with regard to friends and family.  Sometimes those close to me buy imported things that they are very excited about, especially if they spent a good deal of money on the item, like a fancy jacket or watch.  When this happens, I make it a point to show exactly the same enthusiasm I would have shown if I didn’t care about buying American.  Remember, buying American only applies to you.  That means not judging others when they get things they want.  Show those around you the respect of sharing in their excitement as you would if buying American was not a priority of yours.  It will be appreciated. 

I hope you will find this gift-giving advice useful.  I would love to hear what you all think about these guidelines for American-made gift-giving.  Have you ever been in one of these gift-giving scenarios?  What did you choose to do?  Were you pleased with your choice afterward?

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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