Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Born in the USA

I believe if you were born in New Jersey in the 1970s or 1980s there was fine print on the back of your long-form birth certificate that required you to make references to The Boss whenever a reference was possible. Rumor has it now the fine print pleads with newborn Jersey Boys and Girls to avoid future participation in any reality show that may negatively impact the glorious reputation of the Garden State.

But I digress.

There have been numerous tiny events in my life that slowly formulated a conscious decision to try to bring in more American made products into my home. The largest spark for this decision occurred last spring when the hubs and I signed an offer to purchase our home. That was it; we were finally adults because a bank said they trusted us enough to keep sending them payments for the next 30 years. If that’s not a sign of adulthood, then I don’t know what is!

With such a life changing event happening I pulled the hubs aside and told him that in our new forever home, I wanted to bring in more goods stamped, “Made in the USA.” In that same discussion, I also said I specifically wanted to bring in less goods stamped, “Made in China.” There had been so many recalls on children’s toys, pet foods, drywall, and a host of other goods coming from China at the time that I singled the country out. Yes, I felt bad about it. I’m not a fan of prejudices, but the last thing I wanted to do at the time was bring something into our house that was potentially dangerous. 

I won’t go into all my reasons for making this decision, but I will say that it was a long-time coming. 

As usual, the hubs put up with my craziness and endured my shenanigans as best as he could. He was very
straight with me and we both understood that we would, “do our best, but costs and logistics would prevail.”

More often than not, "costs prevailed." I don't know about you, but have you ever really looked at how few items are labeled, "Made in the USA" these days? It's disheartening. In addition, the cost for most items made in this country are significantly higher than those imported; especially for lights! If you find an American made light company that is reasonable, please let me know! 

Then, in January of this year the hubs was given the flag that draped his grandfather's funeral casket.  When that box showed up on our doorstep the hubs and I knew we had to find a case to keep the flag preserved for memory sake and save keeping. 

Off we went to find a flag case.  Ten stores later the hubs was about to lose his cool in the middle of a big-box craft store. This particular store had an entire row filled with shadow boxes and flag cases specifically showing pictures of holding American flags.  But guess what? Every single case and box was labeled, "Made in China." 

The hubs wasn't on "Team America" at the time, but he quickly came over to my side.  He was actually shaking while talking to a customer service representative who was absolutely flabbergasted and embarrassed that every single item in the aisle was made in China, yet advertised itself as being the perfect item to hold an American flag. 

I felt so bad for the hubs that he wasn't successful in finding the perfect case for his grandfather's flag that I actually posted a short summary of our frustrations on the craft store's Facebook page. In less than two days my wall post received over a 150 likes and 50 comments.  Three days later I received an email from a regional manager expressing his concern with my wall post and informed me that he would take my concerns up the chain of command.  

I went back into that craft store this weekend and you know what I found. Nothing had changed. Every single flag case and shadow box on their shelves was still made in China. 

The hubs ended up finding a nice store online that specializes in making flag cases. Every single case is made in North Carolina and is made by hand.  

In the meantime, the hubs and I are still struggling to find American made items for our house. I've almost given up on buying clothes made in America because I can't find a shoe company that makes a fashionable woman's shoe.  All but two pairs of my Cole Haan shoe collection is made in China. Same thing for all of my J.Crew dresses!  

Here's what we've found:

  1. The big home goods stores (Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, West Elm, Z Gallerie, Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.) will specifically say, "Made in the USA" if a product is made here in the states. If it says "imported"  or nothing at all then there is a solid chance the item is coming from China.  Most of the stores above are very open about where their items come from and have country of origin on their website (Crate & Barrel wins in this department).  Other stores will openly say in the item description if the item is made in Italy, India, Brazil, Canada, or Mexico.  I've actually emailed Restoration Hardware in the past and had them send me a list of everything in their current inventory that was made in the USA.  Restoration Hardware definitely gets a point for amazing customer service, but I'd love them more if any of their window hardware was made in the USA. 
  2. Just because something is reclaimed wood doesn't mean it's made in America.  I fell in love with a gorgeous reclaimed wood table at Williams Sonoma Home and was pretty bummed to find out a table costing over $2k was made in China. 
  3. Ceiling fans are not made in the USA.  Seriously, I've been looking for an American made ceiling fan for over six months.  If you find one, let me know.
  4. Don't automatically assume a company that makes things in the USA makes everything in the USA.  Libby glasswares makes a ton of things in the USA and also a ton of things in Mexico.  I don't quite know why one glass shape is made in the USA and the other is made in another country, but it's frustrating that the ones I want aren't made in the USA.  Our GE Cafe fridge is made in Canada and the USA and we went with it because of it's amazing reviews and knowing that we could buy some GE things that were made in the USA.  
  5. Many online shopping stores (Crate & Barrel, Overstock, Wayfair, Bellacor etc.) allow you to search for items made in the USA.  One careful caveat is on Bellacor you'll only get items that have "Made in the USA" in the item description.  Some companies keep that piece of information in their company description and not in their item description.  I bought a floor lamp from Bellacor that was listed on ten different sites as "Made in the USA," but wasn't coming up in searches on Bellacor. 
  6. Some items lend themselves to being made in the USA more than others.  North Carolina is known for upholstered furniture and it's not difficult to find a ton of quality couch options that are made in the USA.  However, the hubs and I have yet been able to find a pretty bathroom garbage can that is made in the USA. The only ones we can find are the generic clear plastic ones. 
  7. Room & Board is the coolest store of all time.  They don't just list the country of origin for every single  product on their website, but for all USA made items they list the specific state where the product is made and artisan that makes all of their products.  The hubs and I bought our bed from Room & Board in March and it's been one of our favorite purchases. 

If you've found any companies for either home or fashion items that are made in the USA, please leave me a comment.  It's really been a struggle for us and we need to buy curtains ASAP! 

No comments:

Post a Comment