If you’re anything like me, the hardest part about the holiday season is finding the right gift for everyone. I don’t mind the price tag or where I have to go to get it, it’s the pressure of finding something that a person will love that always gives me trouble. With the added challenge of finding something American-made this year for our Made in America Shopping Challenge, I seriously considered using the upcoming “2012 Apocalypse” as an excuse for skipping gift-buying altogether. Luckily, shoppers like me have the magical World Wide Web to assist us with our holiday dilemmas. Here’s my guide to finding gifts for the hard to buy for.
Gifts for the Foodie
My Vermont pick for American-made kitchen wares would definitely be Simon Pearce. We’ve talked about their beautiful pottery and glassware before on our Facebook, but I’ll have to mention them again. Any cook would love to have a Simon Pearce piece in their kitchen. If you’re shopping for someone like me who would rather consume the food rather than produce it, check out some locally made specialty stores near you to find scrumptious treats and local delicacies If you’re in Vermont, try Snowflake Chocolate Baskets, Vermont Grafton Cheese Collections or check out the Vermont Specialty Food Association for more ideas.
Gifts for the Animal Lover
Being an animal lover myself, I can assure you that animal people love gifts for their pets just as much as if you’d bought something for them. The Vermonter will love anything from Vermont Gourmet Dog Treats. If you’re looking for something a little bigger, check Just Dog Treats article about American-made dog treats. USA Made Pet Supplies will also give you some great ideas for animal gifts.
Gifts for the Adventurous Friend
We all have that one enthusiastic friend who is always suggesting that you go skiing, mountain climbing, hiking or bike riding with them with them. American Made Outdoors has great gift ideas for those who like hunting, camping, and fishing. Ragged Mountain also has some great toys for the outdoor enthusiast and they’re all American Made.
Gifts for Kids
Children normally won’t care whether their toys are made in America or nut, but their parents will! Check out Toys Made in America for a very extensive list of fun toys and games for kids of all ages that are made exclusively in the US.
Check out our Facebook for more great ideas to buy American made!
American Made Christmas Gifts
We drew names for our Secret Santa gift exchange here at Vermont Woods Studios today. Christmas, Hanukkah and the holiday season are always pretty festive in our office. This year we’ll again be focusing on promoting the idea of giving American made gifts to each other and to our families and friends.
You may remember that last year we launched a Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge. We asked our friends to pledge to buy American made gifts– to look at the tags on everything they bought for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holidays and to choose the ones that were “American Made”. We found it wasn’t a new idea around here. In fact most people told us they go a step further and purchase only locally made gifts, handmade gifts and items that support people and businesses in our community. Anyway, we had so much fun with our project last year that ABC News caught wind of it and came to Vernon to film a segment about it for World News with Diane Sawyer.
Vermont Made Gifts
So this year we wanted to carry on with the tradition. Heather Barrett has posted some great American made gift ideas on our Pinterest Board and Facebook page. Jump on board and share your own finds with her– we’d love it. You’ll see that we’re leaning pretty heavily towards Vermont made items, but certainly not exclusively. I do find that Vermont’s warm winter wear always goes over pretty well on a cold, snowy Christmas morning though. Johnson Woolens, Turtle Fur and Vermont Flannel are favorites in my family.
Local Handmade Gifts
This weekend we have several local craft fairs to shop our way through. One is the 17th annual “Home for the Holidays” craft fair with 50 local vendors at the Vernon Elementary School and another is the 14th Annual Cotton Mill Open Studio and Holiday Sale in Brattleboro, VT. Hope to see you moseying your way through one of them. Our friends and neighbors who’ve been crafting all year long in preparation for the holiday season are depending on our support! Let the shopping begin.
One of our founding principles at Vermont Woods Studios is to sell American Made furniture. We have always sold 100% American Made wood furniture, and we will only sell USA made furniture in the future. The truth is, over 75% of the wood furniture that you see in American stores is manufactured overseas, and it is very likely that the wood was harvested illegally from one of the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests. Furniture isn’t the only industry dominated by foreign made goods. It’s all around us.
There are a number of reasons as to why American Made goods are important; quality and the environment are just a few. However, over the past few years, people have seen a direct correlation between purchasing American Made products, and seeing local economies flourish. Creating jobs for American people seems to be the most compelling reason to buy products made in the USA.
Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge
This past year ABC news ran a Made in America series where they did a great job of raising awareness as to how little we have in our homes that are products of this country. The series cited some amazing statistics like this: if each American spends just $3.33 on American made goods this year it would generate 10,000 jobs. Wow!
Inspired by the TV series our staff member, Dennis, recognized that pairing the concept of buying American Made products with the holidays could make a difference. This is the time of year when we spend the most amount of money. How many Americans are buying gifts for family members and loved ones? How many Secret Santa offices parties will there be? How many school children will be participating in classroom gift exchanges? How many people are having a Yankee Swap? In 2011 the National Retail Federation predicted that Americans would spend $462 billion during the holiday season. This year, they predict that we will spend $586.1 billion during the 2012 holiday season. Imagine the impact that we could have on the economy if we all purchased a few American made items for the holidays.
Noting the impact that that a small business could have, Vermont Woods Studios participated in an American made holiday office party. In addition, we reached out to our family, friends, and customers and asked them to take a pledge to support our country’s economy by purchasing goods made right here in the United States. Our Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge caught the eye of the producers at ABC News, and we were invited to join Diane Sawyer in an episode of the Made in America series! Watch our staff and our challenge from 2011 on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer.
Thanks to many supporters, especially ABC News, the trend of buying American from last year has turned into a full movement. The awareness consumers have, and the mindfulness of buying habits, has further established the importance of buying American Made goods. So, this year we are continuing this movement with full force. We will have an American Made office party, and each staff member at Vermont Woods Studios has taken the pledge to buy American Made this holiday season.
Make The Pledge, Follow The Movement
Here’s how you can support our pledge and join us in spreading the word about our Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge.
1. Like us on Facebook. Stay connected to us throughout the holiday gift buying season. We’ll offer our support through making our followers aware of the variety of American Made holiday gift ideas that are available.
2. Visit our blog. We will be sharing ideas, research, and findings about buying American made holiday gifts.
3. Follow our American Made Pinterest Board. This is the easiest place for us to store gift ideas for you to repin and save to your own boards.
Join us! Take the pledge to buy American Made holiday gifts! Let’s see if we can make a difference buying American Made gifts for the holidays. Write about it in your blog. Share it on your Facebook. Repin US Made products on Pinterest. Write an article for your local newspaper. Email it to your Mom. See if your friends and co-workers will jump on board too. Together, we can do it. We can make a difference!
Happy Veterans Day to all of America’s veterans and their families. The staff at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture extends our sincere thanks to you for your courage, integrity and sacrifice.
As Veteran’s Day approaches I thought readers might be interested in some of the many interesting volunteer opportunities listed on the Veteran’s Administration website. You can honor veterans by attending Welcome Home events, helping homeless Vets, donating to Wounded Warriors or contributing to any number of activities listed on the VA website.
We are running a special 15% off storewide Veterans Day furniture sale in honor of America’s active military and vets, starting tomorrow November 10 and running through Tuesday, November 13. We will donate $20 from every sale during this period to the Adopt A Soldier Program. Check back on Sunday, Veterans Day to read more about this important non-profit organization. Once again, thanks to all our military personnel for your service!
Explore The World of Real Wood Furniture
Columbus Day is a favorite time to shop for home decor as everyone’s beginning to realize that the holidays are right around the corner. If you’ll be entertaining family and friends for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or another holiday you may be shopping for furniture today. No doubt, like Columbus, you’re looking for America’s best. So set your sails for Vermont.
In the Green Mountain State you’ll find the best real wood furniture anywhere in the USA. Vermont is home to some 2000 small custom furniture makers located throughout our state as well as several mid-size, high end furniture manufacturers like Copeland Furniture and Lyndon Furniture.
Vermont style furniture is known for organic solid wood, clear natural finishes and fine craftsmanship. The favorite hardwood among craftspeople and customers alike seems to be American Black Cherry as shown in the handmade Shaker dining table above, although you’ll also find a variety of other North American woods including walnut, oak and maple.
With so many American furniture brands now making their furniture overseas, Vermont has quietly become the Real Wood Furniture Capital of the USA. I know of only one Vermont furniture company that moved its operations overseas back when the Asian exodus was taking place and that was Ethan Allen. The other Vermont furniture businesses have continued to operate successfully in the USA, remaining true to their communities, their employees and their quality.
You can arrange a tour to visit the best of our Vermont furniture makers and see the difference that real wood and authentic American craftsmanship make. Columbus Day is a great time to make the trip! Start here with this Map of Vermont Master Furniture Makers and maybe swing by our Vermont Woods Studios Furniture Showroom in Vernon VT on your route. Then let us know if you too, see Vermont as America’s best place to shop for the real thing in USA made furniture.
Modern Wood Bedroom Set was the Hot Ticket Last Week
This high end Modern American Bedroom Set, inspired by George Nakishima’s designs was our Best Seller last week.
The collection is handcrafted in Burlington, Vermont with real solid cherry and walnut wood. It’s polished with a hand-rubbed natural oil finish. Customers tell us they’re drawn to it’s distinctive mid-century modern look and feel. The clean smooth lines are reminiscent of that retro 1950s Scandinavian style. It’s sophisticated but totally approachable.
The bed, dressers, chests and nightstands in this furniture collection are all made to order here in Vermont and can be customized to meet your needs. The craftsman has also provided dozens of ways to customize easily online. You can easily select your favorite style, hardwood and drawer configuration online. But if you’re looking for further customization give us a call or visit our showroom in Vernon, VT. We’ll look forward to working with you to create a unique modern bedroom set you will cherish for a lifetime.
Going green? This natural, solid wood, American made bedroom set is handcrafted in Vermont from eco-friendly sustainably harvested woods. You can customize any piece online in your choice of solid natural cherry, maple or walnut wood or any two-tone combination of them.
Vermont craftsmen are known for their quality products and attention to fine detail. This has long been well recognized in our Shaker style furniture, but over the last 25 years Vermont has also become one of America's premiere Craftsman style furniture producers.
By way of background, Craftsman Style Furniture grew out of the Arts and Crafts movement promoted by Gustav Stickley and his family. In the early 1900s Stickley and fellow period designers like Greene and Greene, Roycroft and Limbert created a renaissance of honest workmanship and honest designs in their furniture.
In contrast to designers of the preceding Victorian era, they rejected the cheaply made, mass-produced, ornate factory furniture of the time. They believed that beauty does not come from ornamentation, but from sturdy construction, simplicity of purpose, and optimal presentation of nature’s materials.
Well, it turns out that over 100 years after the Arts and Crafts movement, Vermont furniture makers continue to remain true to it's values of simple elegance. For a look at some examples of Vermont style Craftsman Furniture, visit our website to view our Frank Lloyd Wright collection, Contemporary Craftsman Collection, Cherry Moon Furniture Collection, Copeland Berkeley Collection, Copeland Monterey Collection, Northup Craftsman Furniture Collection, American Mission Furniture Collection and Modern Mission Furniture Collection.
Vermont is America's "go to" store for authentic Cherry Wood Furniture. Cherry has been the wood of choice for hundreds of Vermont craftsmen for decades.
Whereas most of the big "American" furniture companies have outsourced their wood furniture manufacturing to Asia and Latin America, Vermont companies (with the exception of Ethan Allen, unfortunately) have remained here in the USA.
Vermont cherry furniture is made to a higher standard and it's still made from real, solid American black cherry wood. In contrast, many of the well known "American" furniture companies from North Carolina now use Asian woods like rubberwood which they stain and call "cherry".
So it's no wonder that customers come to us with many questions as they seek to find and purchase authentic American black cherry wood furniture. I thought I'd round up five of our previous blog posts written in response to customer questions about "cherry wood furniture" in hopes of streamlining your research on the subject. Feel free to post your own questions and comments below or on our Facebook.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it's still frustrating to see people take your work, copy it and sell it as their own. Unfortunately the Internet has made that a full time job for many companies around the globe.
The latest copycat we've come across is a company calling themselves American Eco Furniture. See any similarities in our logos? Our Vermont Woods Studios logo (above) has three trees made with thumbprints to signify the handcrafted nature of our furniture. The trunk on each tree is unique to convey that our furniture makers are independent, with their own styles, designs and crafting techniques. Our American made furniture is carefully handcrafted in Vermont of solid, sustainably harvested wood. It's guaranteed for a lifetime. It truly is the real thing.
By contrast, most of the furniture sold by this company is neither American made nor eco friendly.
It turns out that we can have attorneys go after this company (and the many others like it) but I'm not sure we can afford to take our focus off making Vermont Woods Studios best in it's class– in order to chase them down. It's kind of like that "Whack-A Mole" game. New scams just keep popping up.
I can't help humming that old song by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Remember it? Ain't Nothin Like The Real Thing, Baby.
So I just have to hope consumers aren't getting us confused with the fly-by-nights. In talking with our customers we've learned they typically spend 3-4 months shopping and researching before they make an investment in American handmade furniture. I think that's what it takes anymore to make sure you're getting the real thing.
What do you think? Drop us a line in the comments section below or on our Facebook. We love hearing from you!
All of us here at Vermont Woods Studios are wishing you a safe and happy Fourth of July.
The staff is taking today off to enjoy with their families but our 4th of July Furniture Sale is on 24/7 if you would like to shop or make a purchase. We'll be back in the showroom tomorrow to work with you directly and answer any questions you may have.
Happy Fourth and thanks for your continued support of our work!