Reprinted with permission from a letter by Rita Settle to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel

American-made-christmas

 

My friend Deana clipped this letter out of the Orlando Sentinel and sent it to me after reading about our American Made Holiday Gift Challenge.  We thank Rita Settle for her creative holiday gift suggestions.

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

  • Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
  • Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
  • Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
  • Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
  • There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
  • How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
  • Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
  • My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
  • OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
  • Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
  • Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

American-made-furnitureIn the furniture world, High Point, North Carolina is the place to be in October.  All the big, multi-national furniture wholesalers are there at the Annual Furniture Market selling to retailers from across America. 

For the past 30-40 years these companies have been manufacturing their furniture in China, Vietnam and other third world countries.  They moved there from places like North Carolina and Virginia in the 70s and 80s to take advantage of cheap labor, illegally harvested wood and lax safety and health regulations. 

Well, now that wages and safety are both on the rise in China, the furniture companies are moving back to the USA.  This year they are pushing two new over-arching sales themes at the High Point Market:  American Made Furniture and Eco-Friendly, Green Furniture.

Hmmm.  That sounds familiar, doesn't it?  In Vermont our furniture makers have embodied these themes throughout our history.  Vermont furniture has always been true to its American heritage, American quality and American jobs.  And our states' furniture craftspeople have consistently used eco-friendly, sustainably harvested wood and non-toxic finishes for their work. 

From the small custom shops that make one of a kind studio furniture to our medium and large scale furniture makers like Lyndon Furniture, Copeland Furniture, Pompanoosuc Mills, New England Woodcraft, Vermont Furniture Designs and Maple Corner Woodworks, Vermont craftsmen have been authentically American and eco-friendly throughout our history.  It's not just a passing fad in Vermont and you can rest assured that we will be providing heirloom quality, natural, handmade furniture for generations to come.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

American-Made-FurnituresWe've been working hard to promote American Made products lately, in support of American workers who need jobs.  All of our furniture is 100% American Made (100% Vermont made actually– well OK, I think we have a few chairs that are made in Massachusetts) but we wanted to do more.  Dennis started our "Made in America" Holiday Gift Challenge event last month asking people to purchase "American Made" holiday gifts.  We've got about 46 takers so far and you can add your name to the list if you're on Facebook.

Well, more and more with each passing day, it seems that buying American isn't just a patriotic thing to do– it's an economically smart strategy.  In his Harvard Business Review column, Harold Sirkin sees a resurgence of USA manufacturing coming in response to changing economics.  Chinese workers are starting to fight for higher wages at the same time that the cost of fuel and shipping from China to the US are also on the rise.  Companies like Volkswagen are noticing– they recently opened a new $1Billion factory in Tennessee.

Now what will the big so-called "American" furniture companies do… like Furniture Brands International, the huge multi-national company that's bought out many of our iconic American furniture companies (Broyhill, Lane, Thomasville, etc.) over the last 30 years?  Well they anticipated this years ago and have moved many of their overseas operations from China to Viet Nam where wages are still deplorably low and regulations are even more non-existent than in China.  But that's for another day and another discussion.

The good news is that there is still plenty of American made furniture being built in the USA and the best of it is right up here in Vermont!

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vt-furniture-ken

 

The other day Ken got the word from his orthopedic surgeon that he's not released to go back to work yet until he gets another week of physical therapy for his new hip.  Anyone else would be thrilled but Ken is starting to go a little stir crazy. 

 

We try to alleviate that some now and then by giving him a few light chores to do around Vermont Woods Studios Furniture.  Today his big event was putting up a new sign outside the showroom.

 

Now he's off to rest from all the exertion.  Pretty funny… knowing Ken, huh?

 

 

 

 

 

Vt-furniture-manjula-douglas

Manjula and Douglas are such hams in front of the camera, aren't they? Everytime I get it out to take pictures of our furniture, they jump right into the photo.  They insisted I take a picture of them today.  Hahaha!  Not really (quite the opposite), but they forced me into the photo above so I thought it was only fair to reciprocate.  They were good sports about it, as always.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Simon-pearceAs you know, when Hurricane Irene blew through Vermont, hundreds of our roads, bridges, homes and businesses were severely damaged or destroyed. Being on the banks (being THE banks, actually) of the Ottauquechee River, the Simon Pearce flagship store in Quechee Vermont suffered major flooding and sustained serious damage to its glassblowing, pottery and hydroelectric facilities.  

 

 

Luckily their restaurant and retail store suffered much less damage and they recently re-opened.

 

 

Arn-cathy-simon-pearceWe, at Vermont Woods Studios love to visit the Simon Pearce Mill and Restaurant, especially during these colorful weeks of Fall (that's Arn and Cathy in the restaurant– the picture was taken just before the hurricane). The Pearce family and their staff are an inspiration to us and a role model for sustainable operations and good corporate citizenship.  Their business is a benchmark for the kind of destination we want to offer at our next location.

Check out the Simon Pearce website and Facebook to see the kind of principled company they have created.  And definitely stop by for lunch or dinner at the Simon Pearce restuarant— one of the finest in the Northeast.

There are a few weeks of leaf peeping left in Vermont, so we hope you'll wander through our state this weekend or next.  You'll find that almost all of our businesses have managed to dry out, dig out and clean-up in time for your visit.  Your efforts will be greatly appreciated by all the Vermont business owners who are working around the clock to recover from the worst catastrophe the state has ever seen.  

Enjoy your travels! 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.