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Posts Tagged ‘Made in USA’

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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Christmas is just around the corner, and every day millions of Americans are hitting the malls, shops, and websites searching for gifts to give friends and family. Even if this Christmas is leaner than some in years past, for many it will still be a time of much celebration.

But for many of the millions of unemployed or underemployed this season, Christmas will not be a time for celebration at all. In fact, Christmas is the hardest time of year to be unemployed because it is the time when financial obligations are the greatest.

When I’m shopping this Christmas season, I am doing everything I can to make sure the things I buy are made in USA, and I’m letting those around me know if they are buying me gifts, to please make sure they are American made.

That’s not to say every gift you buy for ever person should be American made, because sometimes a person wants a very specific item, or sometimes an American made version of what you want to get for someone is simply not available.  Check out my advice for buying American while gift-giving.

Here are a few examples of the things you can do to buy American this Christmas season: 

Buy a real Christmas tree. The fake ones are usually made overseas while the real ones are almost always grown right here in the USA.  I have always insisted on real Christmas trees because I love the smell of a real tree, but they are also a great way to buy American and create jobs. If you do prefer an artificial tree, a company called Christmas in America makes theirs in the USA.

Buy American made candles. People tend to buy a lot of candles around the holidays, and generally American-made candles can be found very easily at retail stores near you.  But the imported ones are on the shelf right next to the American-made ones.  The imports generally aren’t any better or cheaper.  Make the right choice. 

Buy American wine.  People buy more wine around Christmas than any other time of year.  Thankfully some of the greatest wine in the world is made right here in states like California, Washington, and New York.  Don’t feel the need to buy an imported wine for a gift because it might look it like a better wine.  The comparably priced American wine is probably better, and you’ll be helping create jobs here in the USA if you buy American.

Buy American clothing.  We buy lots of clothes around Christmas time, and there are lots of great options that are American made.  Check out the Made in USA Clothing Company for a great American brand of polo shirts and sweatshirts for men and women.  Check out All American Clothing for some more great clothing options including jeans.  Check out Todd Shelton for a true American made designer brand. 

Finally, check out www.AmericansWorking.com for a great directory of American made products.

Every time we buy American made we are doing something – our small part – to create jobs for Americans. This is so important when millions of Americans are out of work. 

This year, in the spirit of Christmas, please buy American.  I am.

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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Not all brands of O.J. use American-grown oranges. Florida's Natural O.J. does!

The grocery store is a great place to make an effort to buy American.  We spend a lot of money at the grocery store, and most of the imported items that you will find there have an American-made product as a competitor.  So the decisions you make as the grocery store have the potential to really add up and make a difference.

One great example of a product that has selections both made in the U.S.A. and imported is orange juice.  I’m not sure how long this has been the case, but some of the top O.J. brands have begun making their juice from imported oranges.

I was really shocked when I noticed this.  I thought that pretty much all orange juice in this country came from Florida, but that is simply not so.  More than one top brand is now using juice from overseas.

Why is this important?

Well, whenever we buy American-grown oranges, we are putting Americans to work growing, harvesting, and processing the fruit.  Plus, when Americans earn wages, they spend the money they earn hear in the U.S.A., creating even more jobs through a multiplier effect.  However, when we send our money overseas to buy foreign-grown oranges, we get none of the job-creating benefits just described.

Did you know that the unemployment rate in Florida is the fourth worst in the U.S., 11.9, and some of the areas worst hit in the state are the areas where citrus is grown?  Florida has lots of people that need work.  When we take the extra time to make sure the O.J. we are buying is a product of the U.S.A. we are doing our part to put those Americans back to work.

Here is the kicker of it all.  Most of the brands using imported oranges actually cost more than those using American-grown oranges even though they are in no way a better product.  The best oranges come from Florida.

So next time you are buying O.J., please check to make sure that oranges being used to make it are grown in America.  You will be helping American communities when you do it.

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

Randy

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Here’s an easy way to buy American.  Next time you wear the soles out of your favorite shoes, or crack the heel on your best high heels, consider having them resoled or fixed instead of replacing them outright.

Shoes are one of the most difficult items to find made in the U.S.A.  According to industry data, 96% of all shoes purchased in the U.S. are imported.  That means if you replace a pair of shoes that could be fixed or resoled there is a very good chance they will be replaced with an imported product.

However, if you have them resoled or fixed, the work will be done in the U.S., creating jobs in our country, like the one you are creating for the cobbler who fixes them.  Because the money you spend isn’t going overseas to pay for production and shipping costs, that means the money will be circulated in the U.S., creating even more jobs through a multiplier effect.  That’s nothing but good news for our economy.

But it’s also good news for your bank account.  Resoling men’s leather soled oxford shoes will typically cost about $40, while replacing them will usually cost around $100.  That is a 60% savings.  A new heel for a high heel shoe will cost somewhere around $12, while a new pair will run $40 and up.

A resoled shoe is also of higher quality in my opinion.  Cobblers use a thicker kind of leather that tends to last much longer than the soles on most new shoes.  I have worn through the bottoms of lots of shoes, but I have never worn through a pair with new soles put on.

So next time you think it’s time to retire your favorite pair of shoes, give them new life by having them repaired instead of throwing them away.  You’ll be helping the American economy and your own bank account if you do.

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

Randy

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Let’s face it, times are tough out there.  The economy is still struggling, and most Americans have been impacted in one way or another.

With that in mind, here is a question I’ve been getting a lot lately: How can I buy American without it costing me a lot more to get the things I need?

First, don’t assume that buying American whenever possible will cost more.  Most people just presume buying American will be more expensive, but this supposition is absolutely false.

In fact, many American-made goods are simply less expensive than imported goods with which they compete (like American beer).  Also, by doing the research necessary to find American-made goods and eliminating impulse purchases (which buying American tends to do), most people who are dedicated to buying American actually reduce the amount of money they spend, not increase it. 

Don’t believe me?  Give it a try for a week and you’ll quickly see why.  I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts your overall spending will go down.  Why? Because you buy less stuff you don’t need. 

Personally, I can tell you that my discretionary spending has decreased by about 20 percent since I got serious about buying American (I should warn you, these results are typical).  Isn’t that an interesting notion – buying American could actually improve your budget!

Here is another way to buy American on a tight budget.  If you simply cannot afford to buy a new American-made version of an item you need, buy used (or as I call it, “vintage”) instead of buying a cheap new imported good.  This will not only save you money, but it will probably allow you to purchase higher quality items as well.

Buying second-hand instead of cheap imported goods accomplishes something very important – it keeps the money you spend in America where it can circulate in our economy and create jobs.  If you buy a cheap import, a significant portion of the purchase price will leave the country to pay for the cost of production and shipping.  That generally means more jobs in Mexico or Asia and less here in the U.S.A.

By the way, buying second-hand and eliminating the around-the-globe shipping of the goods you buy is a greener option as well.  In fact, anyone who is concerned their carbon footprint should, in my opinion, do their best to buy American whenever possible.  I applaud those who try to buy local.  Buying local generally is buying American.

I’ll finish this post with an example of what I mean about it being better to buy second-hand instead of buying cheap new imported goods.  Let’s say you need a living room chair, but you’re on a tight budget and you only have about $75 to spend. You could:

A) Buy a very cheap imported new chair that won’t likely be comfortable or last very long and you’ll have to put it together yourself, or

B) Go to Craig’s List or the Salvation Army and get a quality used, but comfortable chair that you’ll be able to sell for as much as you paid for it in a few years.

To me, this is a no-brainer.  I choose option B – skip the cheap furniture and go with the used chair that is higher quality, yet still within your budget.  You also have the added benefit of more residual value when you are done with it.  A used chair that originally cost $75 will be worth $20 in five years.  However, a chair that was purchased used for $75 will probably still be worth around $75 after the same period of time.  In a way, it’s like renting the furniture for free.

When you are on a really tight budget, second-hand is a nice way to get good value while still doing your part to keep the dollars you spend in America and creating jobs in our communities. 

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

Randy

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My shot of the Golden Gate Bridge

Hello everyone.  I’m back from my brief blogging hiatus.  I was on vacation, and it wouldn’t have been a vacation if I brought the laptop, so I left it.

About a month ago I wrote a blog entry called “Support American Jobs, Vacation in the U.S.A.”  Boy am I glad a decided to take that advice.  I just got back from the most amazing road trip down the coast of California, and I had an absolute blast.

We started our trip in San Francisco and ended in San Diego.  All I can say is WOW!  If you haven’t seen the California coast you really need to think about getting out there and seeing it.  The places we saw were breathtaking.  From redwood forests to sandy beaches, the California coast has so much to offer. 

The sweet blue Mustang convertible we drove

We flew into San Francisco and were picked up by our friends in a blue Mustang convertible.  I was glad we were able to get an American-made rental.  And let’s face it, if you’re going to be driving the California coast, it should be in a convertible.

We spent a couple days in San Fran, then made our way down the coast.  We took the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) down through Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, and all the way to San Luis Obispo.  We must have stopped ten times on that leg of the trip, usually just to spend a few minutes a on a beautiful beach we knew we might never see again.

From there, we made our way south through Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, and finally to Los Angeles.  The scenic

Santa Barbara

views on this portion of our trip were magnificent.  I felt like I was Ansel Adams taking pictures of the mountains and scenery. 

Finally, we made it down through Orange County and down to San Diego.  We ended our trip with a nice day at Mission Beach in San Diego, which reminded me a lot of Miami Beach (my hometown beach). 

The trip was huge success.  I got to see so many things and places I had never seen before, and everyone had a great time.  I’m looking forward to getting back out west again soon.

Mountains just a few miles from Malibu, CA

But it’s also good to back home in Arlington, VA as well, and sleeping in my own bed at night.

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

Randy

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