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Christmas Wish: Find WorkWhen shopping this holiday season, don’t forget that for millions of unemployed Americans, the most important gift you can give is a job.  And you can make a real difference for people struggling to find work in this country by simply making an effort to buy American during the holidays (and beyond).

Most people don’t really consider themselves job creators, but the truth is every time we spend our hard-earned money, we are creating jobs – somewhere.

Decades ago the vast majority of goods consumed in this country were made in the USA, so pretty much however one spent his money, there was a good chance most of it was going toward American job creation.

But over the years, the percentage of goods found in stores that are made in America has decreased dramatically.  When we buy goods from overseas, that’s where the money goes, and that’s where the jobs are created.

So nowadays, we can’t just buy things with no regard for where they are made.  Unemployment is too high for that.  We need to pay a little more attention and make an effort to buy things that are made in USA whenever we can, especially when we can find items of equal or better value comparably priced.

Little by little those made in USA purchases add up, and they turn into jobs for Americans who need work.

It saddens me to think of all the parents out there this time of year, who want nothing more than to provide a joyous Christmas (or other holiday) for their children, but don’t have the means to provide it because of joblessness.

Even if it’s only for a few weeks around the holidays, try to make an extra effort to buy American.

If enough of us will do it, we’ll have more work to go around in this country, and a few more smiling children on Christmas morning.

Take the Buy American Challenge today.

Happy Holidays!

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

Randy

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

I’ve made several posts this year about a documentary film project called “Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey,” a film about a regular American guy (Josh Miller) who sets out on a 30-day journey across the country to discover what “Made in USA” means and what impact it has for the future of our country.

Just weeks after filming has wrapped up for this ground-breaking film, Miller and the rest of his production team have released a film trailer. 

Check out the film trailer here:

This is a great preview of the film, which is expected to be released a few months from now, although a release date has not yet been set. 

I have been doing all I can to support this film because this project has the potential to reach millions of Americans with a critical message:  The future of our country depends on each of us doing our part to buy American.

At least that’s what I think the central message of the movie will be based on the trailer and all I know about Josh and his project, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  I will be waiting with eager anticipation to see what Josh and his crew discovered on their journey.

You can find out more about the film here.

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

Randy

Documentary Filmmaker Josh Miller, along with his three companions, has completed three days of his journey to buy and use nothing but American-made goods, and by the looks of things, Josh is really starting to struggle.

Important to note is that Josh chose to adopt the strictest possible interpretation of what it means to buy American, a plan I do not recommend, and you’ll see why.  He is literally refusing to use anything not made in the USA.  That means showering with a hose because practically no showerheads are made in USA (but this one is), using a portable bathroom because he couldn’t find an American-made toilet, and so on.  Josh has really gone COLD TURKEY.

Here it from Josh himself in this YouTube clip:

The Buy American Challenge, which is the plan I have been on for the last two years (I just had my second buy American birthday this week. Don’t I get a pin or something?). This is a realistic buy American program that anyone can follow.  Best of all it doesn’t require the kind of severe deprivation that Josh is dealing with. 

I’m hoping that as Josh continues on his journey, he will make peace with the fact that avoiding all imported goods is just not realistic.  I’m hoping he will adopt these Buy American Challenge program guidelines as a realistic alternative. 

I believe that if we are going to have a thriving Buy American Movement in this country, we need a common plan that most of the people committed to buying American are on.  It needs to be simple, it needs to be easy to follow, and most importantly, it needs to be realistic! 

You can follow Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey at these sights:  30 Day Journey Webpage, 30 Day Journey Facebook Page, 30 Day Journey Twitter Page, 30 Day Journey YouTube Page

Once again, here are the guidelines of the Buy American program I recommend:

 Buy American Challenge Guidelines:

  1. Buy only American-made finished products or American-grown or -raised foods.
  2. Items you buy may have parts, materials, and content that is not American-made, -grown, or -raised.
  3. Items you buy may be made in America by foreign-owned or multinational corporations.
  4. This challenge applies only to one’s own personal purchase decisions, not those made for households, groups, businesses, associations, or for one’s profession.
  5. Embarking on this challenge should be done willingly.  No one should ever be obligated or forced into buying American-made.
  6. This challenge applies only to purchases you make going forward.  Any puchases made in the past are in the past. 

Exceptions to the Buy American Challenge Guidelines:

  1. One, of course, may buy a specific foreign-made product if a doctor, dentist, or other medical expert prescribes or recommends it.  Example: If your dentist says you need a fancy foreign-made tooth brush, don’t worry about it, just get it.
  2. One may buy a specific foreign-made product if the item is simply not made, grown, or raised in the United States, and the item does not have a suitable replacement that is made, grown, or raised in the United States.  Example 1: A lot of electronics just aren’t made in the U.S.A. anymore.  If you can’t find what you want American-made, don’t worry about it.  Example 2: There is no such thing as an American-grown banana.  No worries, you can still eat them.  Example 3: There is no American-made “Champagne” because to be called Champagne it must have been produced in the Champagne region of France.  However, their are plenty of high quality American-made substitutes that are virtually identical to Champagne, but when they are made in America they are called “sparkling wine.”  This is the kind of item that is not the same, but does have a suitable replacement. 
  3. One may buy a specific foreign-made or -grown product if one is for some reason required to buy a specific item.  Example: If your professor assigns a specific foreign-made calculator to use for a class, don’t worry about it, just get it.
  4. One may buy a foreign-made item if it is urgently needed, and time or proximity preclude one from buying an American-made version of the item.  Example: You are really thirsty, and the only water available is bottled in France.  Don’t worry about it, just get it.
  5. If one has a kinship with another country other than the U.S.A., he or she should feel free to buy items made, grown, or raised in that country as well.  Example: Let’s say you have Irish heritage and like to buy things made in Ireland from time to time.  Go right ahead continue doing that.
  6. One is allowed five “cheat items” (or more if you really need more).  These are items that one may have an existing attachment to.  If you simply can’t live without a specific foreign-made good, you can continue to purchase it.  Example: Let’s say you just love Swiss chocolate.  You can, of course, continue to buy your chocolate as often as you would like. 

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

Randy

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

Against all odds, the American Made Chic tour hits the road first thing tomorrow morning.

I say against all odds because the lead up to this bus tour has been Murphy’s Law at its finest – that’s the law that states anything that can go wrong will.  For the AMC Tour, seemingly anything that could possibly have gone wrong has.

Just weeks from departure, what seemed like a plan that was being perfectly executed began to unravel.

The biggest obstacle to overcome was acquiring a vehicle.  Originally, the Chic Tour ladies were told that a vehicle would be donated to the project, but just weeks from departure it became clear that the bus they were anticipating would not be pulling up to take them to Kentucky and beyond.

What a setback! The vehicle was a key component of their promotional strategy.  They absolutely needed a bus or a very large Winnebago on which to display the logos of their sponsors.  The bus tour was the whole idea – no bus, no tour.

So, not having planned or budgeted for the purchase of a vehicle, the ladies hit the market for used Winnebago; one they could transform into a traveling advertisement for all things made in USA.

After hours and hours of fruitless searching, which spanned hundreds of miles up and down Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Julie Reiser, the lead on this project, considered folding up the tent.  The show simply could not go on without a vehicle, and they didn’t have one.

But instead of allowing this setback to shoot down this dream that was three years in the making, Julie stiffened her upper lip and decided that failure was not an option. 

Her relentless search for wheels continued.  That’s when she found a 1997, Coachmen Mirada RV being housed in Miami, Florida that was for sale.  This vehicle had some quirks, but it would fit their purpose, and best of all, the price was right. Julie shot down to Miami and came back with the land-yacht that will ultimately serve as the epicenter of the American Made Chic Tour this summer.

The trials and tribulations didn’t stop there. Sponsors fell through. Goods that would be sold on the tour never showed up. The wrapping of the vehicle with all the logos turned out to be another enormous, yet unavoidable, expense.  Thing after thing went wrong.  But on the eve of this historic journey, every leak in the dam has been patched, and the show is ready to hit the road.

Me (Randy of Buy American Challenge) and Chic Ladies Julie Reiser (right) and Kim Gregory (left) pictured here on April 12th. We met up in South Florida to plan for the big tour over a bottle of California's finest.

As they do, the Chic trio is hoping to pick up additional sponsors. The unanticipated expenses have put this project in the red, and while the AMC Tour is all set to go to Kentucky, they are still trying to figure out how they are going to find money for the gas they will need to get home. But they’ve come too far to turn back now; the tour will continue as planned.

Thinking ahead, Julie and company left open space on the RV siding so that new sponsors could be added as the tour gets underway.  If you know of any business that might like to sponsor this tour, send me a quick email, and I’ll pass it along to Julie.

Or if you would like to make a small personal contribution to the tour, you can make it here (all major credit cards accepted).  The sole purpose of the AMC Tour is to promote “Made in USA.”  These ladies are out there fighting the good fight so businesses that create jobs in America will succeed, and our country can lift itself out of the economic doldrums we’ve been stuck in.  Even if it’s just a few dollars, please consider making a little contribution to support their effort.  I am.

Now, just hours from departure, the vehicle is ready, the bags are packed, the reservations are made, the events are planned, and the three powerful and stylish ladies are enjoying one last night at home before the traveling circus begins.

With these three fabulous and chic ladies, it’s bound to be a wild ride.  One you won’t want to miss.

You can follow the American Made Chic tour at these sights: AMC Tour Facebook Page, AMC Tour Twitter Page, AMC Tour Live Blog

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

Randy

The buy American movement is growing, and this summer it may reach new heights thanks to a promotional bus tour that that will embark in a matter of days to promote American-made products and services.  This tour is called “American Made Chic,” and it will set out on April 28, 2012 to change the views of Americans and shed light on all things made in America.

Led by three incredibly talented, smart, and chic American business women, the tour will travel across the country in a red, white, and blue motorhome creating high impact events and awareness for jobs, manufacturing, and products Made in the U.S.A.

American Made Chic will be filming “out takes” and taking photographs for their live streaming interactive blog.  They will be showing the beauty and history of our amazing country while weaving in stories highlighting exemplary manufactures, producing products right here in the U.S.A.

Social media has created a way for fans, and followers to interact in real time, joining the Chic Tour in conversations, real time contests, and being a part of the summer fun allowing everyone to join the Chic ladies on the road this summer, creating a 3-D fan experience while giving hope to Americans for a better future of our country.

Below is the schedule for the first leg of the American Made Chic tour which takes place in Louisville, Kentucky.  If they are coming to a city near you, please show them your support.

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

Randy

American Made Chic Tour Schedule for Louisville, Kentucky

April 30, 2012

6:00-11:00 a.m.

Kentucky Derby Museum (704 Central Ave, Louisville, KY)

Meet and Greet AT&T Press Morning and kickoff of Derby festivities.

May 1, 2012

6:00-9:00 p.m.

Avalon (1314 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY)

Celebrating American Made Products Happy Hour Event featuring American Made Products provided by AMC official Sponsors. AMC Tour will be presenting an award to a company or individual in the Louisville area highlighting their desire to strive for excellence in community, economy or new product development in the female category given by Women Impacting Public Policy.

May 2, 2012

10:00 a.m.

Louisville Slugger Hillerich & Bradsby Factory (800 West Main Street, Louisville, KY)

AMC Ladies will be behind the scenes touring the manufacturing plant of the highly renowned Louisville Sluggers.

6:00-8:00 p.m.

The Green Building (732 East Market, Louisville, KY)

AMC Tour will be presenting a custom-created masterpiece by R.S. Owens & Co. (Maker of the prestigious Oscar awards) to a company or individual in the Louisville area highlighting their desire to strive for excellence in community, economy or new product development.

May 3,2012

10:00 a.m.

Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center (1311 Gilkey Run Road, Bardstown, KY)

1:00 p.m.

Maker’s Mark (3350 Burks Spring Road, Loretto, KY)

AMC Ladies and Adam Johnson, Director of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, will experience firsthand the smelling of the sour mash, seeing and hearing a column still and encounter the heavy redolence of aging Bourbon and oak in a warehouse that takes our senses to a new level.

May 4, 2012

10:00 a.m. (All Day)

Kentucky Oaks (Churchill Downs 700 Central Avenue)

AMC Ladies will experience a Louisville tradition by sipping on Oaks Lily Cocktails and watching the lilies for our filly crowning.

6:00 p.m.

Expo Five (2900 7th Street Road Louisville, KY)

The AMC Ladies and Expo Five Center will highlight American Spirits while enjoying an evening of entertainment with Derby Fans.

May 5, 2012

5:00 a.m. (All Day)

Kentucky Derby (Churchill Downs 700 Central Avenue)

AMC Ladies will be at Churchill Downs behind the scenes watching the sun rising over the track, the glistening of the dew on the grass and the horses being prepped for one of the most exciting American Traditions the Run for the Roses.

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