Six Ways to Find Products Made in the USA
More and more, consumers are considering whether the product they are shopping for is made in the USA when making a decision about purchasing. If they are going to spend money on a consumer good, they would like that money to support an American job, as long as the price is reasonable. But actually finding things made in the USA? That’s the problem.
Let’s be real. Most things on our store shelves are made overseas. No one has the time to actually go to two or three brick and mortar stores to check the country of origin on the package. And on the internet, products are usually listed without a country of origin (a loophole in our regulations that needs to be closed). If you want to know the country of origin, you actually have to email the retailer and ask them where the product is made. - and wait for their answer a day or more later. It could take weeks to research a single purchase! So how can you make your money support American workers? Here are six ways:
Use the fruit of other people’s labor. There are lots of web sites promoting American-made goods. I’ve made it a point for years to buy American whenever possible, so I’ve spent a lot of time searching the web. My favorite site, and probably the oldest such site is www.stillmadeinUSA.com. This site has researched all kinds of consumer products over the years and lists hundreds links to sites of American made products. More recently a small online store and a blog have been added..Other resource web sites for goods made in the USA are www.madeinUSA.org and www.madeinusaforever.com. Check these sites and others like them when you start thinking about a purchase. I’ve used stillmadeinUSA.com to identify and purchase American-made lamps, small furniture, household linens, gardening tools, clothes and probably lots of other things I don’t remember now.
Check labor union websites. For obvious reasons, labor unions are among the biggest boosters of American-made products. The UAW (United Auto Workers) union web site, for example, (www.uaw.org) features on its home page a list of automobiles made by U.S. and Canadian auto workers. UNITE-HERE lists a handful of union-made clothing on their website. Other union websites may list similar information, especially clothing made by union members (and by default, made in the USA).
Ask a professional. When my old desktop died a couple of years ago I asked the computer repair guy if there are any desktop manufacturers left in the USA. I was surprised to hear him say, yes, there is! zt is a U.S. computer manufacturer that actually assembles desktop computers at their plant in the U.S. I bought one of their computers online (Yes, when it arrived it was labeled “made in the USA“). I never would have found them without lots of internet searches, but just asking the computer guy got me an answer in under a minute! I also located an American radio manufacturer a while ago by calling a company whose radio ad proclaimed them the radio experts. Many store clerks have a surprising amount of knowledge about what is made where, too. Sometimes your quickest way to find out if you can buy American could be the old-fashioned way – call up a professional or find a store clerk and ask.
Surf the net - it's getting Made in the USA-friendly
In addition to the sites devoted to identifying all kinds of goods made in the USA, some regular e-commerce websites have made it easier to find domestic goods on their own sites. Case in point: Walmart's Made in USA category on their online site. Instead of guessing at the correct keyword to search, all of Walmart's products that are part of their Made in USA program are listed in a separate category of the same name. I've noticed that Overstock.com also has a separate Made in USA category, too.
Other e-commerce websites have at least made it easier to search their sites using various keywords like made in USA, perhaps in response to demand by their customers. Some of the biggest retailers, like Target and J.C. Penney, haven't gotten on board yet, but some of my recent web research turned up searches that returned legitimate USA-made products on sites like Nordstrom, Sears, and a range of smaller online stores. It has become much easier to look for American goods by searching online than it was just two years ago.
In addition to the online stores that carry a variety of brands, there is also a significant number of small and micro-sized manufacturers of specialty items. For lack of a better word, I consider them "boutique" domestic manufacturers. While researching clothes made in the USA, for example, I found at least a dozen small shops all over the country offering their own high-quality, made-to-last clothing, like American Giant (men's and women's sweatshirts and t-shirts), Red Ants Pants (rugged women's clothing), Flint and Tinder (premium men's undergarments), TS Designs (t-shirts made from organic cotton grown in the US), Three Dots (women's clothing made in southern California) and many more. There is also a small number of manufacturers of shoes made in the USA, like New Balance (not all), New England Footwear (new brand of beautiful sport shoes), and Alden Shoes.
Buy from Amazon, Etsy, eBay, or other micro-business websites If you don’t mind buying a hand-made product from an individual, instead of from a traditional retail store, you can buy a huge variety of goods hand made by American craftsmen, and not necessarily at a premium price. I recently checked Amazon, Etsy and eBay when I wanted a small wrought iron rack for my kitchen, and found several alternatives to choose from, all hand made, in the USA and reasonably priced. Yes, there were also hundreds of other racks, all the same and obviously mass-produced (which I assumed was undoubtedly overseas), but I still found some nice stuff made in the USA. Years ago I bought a charming pie safe through eBay from a guy across the county who hand makes small furniture and sells it on eBay. There are plenty of other web sites through which individuals and micro businesses sell their goods, these are just the three that I have had experience with.
Buy from a second-hand store When all else fails, and if you don’t mind buying second-hand, buying anything from a thrift store supports your local economy instead of an overseas economy. Some thrift stores carry returns from department stores that are still in (opened) boxes, or even brand new things. Granted, shopping at a thrift store is hit-or-miss, and some people simply won’t buy anything second-hand. But if you really care about your hard-earned money supporting American jobs, buying from a thrift store is an option, not to mention, cheaper!
With so many things in our stores made overseas, it sometimes takes a little ingenuity and planning these days to find goods made in the USA. But, thanks to the internet and retail options that didn't exist a few years ago, you can still support American jobs with many of your purchases. Who knows, someday the job you save may be your own!