November 15th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
By Dennis Shanoff
Earlier this year I wrote a blog which I hoped would inspire a “Buy American Made Products” movement but with a new twist. I thought that the upcoming holiday season would be the perfect time to raise awareness that there still are some great American Made products.
After all this is the time of year when shopping is going full force. So if there ever was power in numbers this would be the time to really make a difference!
I began my research into American Made Products that would make good holiday gifts and I was both surprised and pleased to find that this was not as difficult as I first envisioned. Certainly at some point most of us have commented on the overwhelmingly high percentage of imported products we see on our stores shelves. And how product quality has diminished as well.
I realize that there is some perception that US made product is just too expensive but when you factor in its quality and lasting power over “cheap” imports it actually may prove to be a bargain! Buy it right, and buy it once I say.
I was also very pleased to find that most of the companies I had discovered were started in America long ago, understood offshore production savings or felt economic pressure to manufacture offshore, but firmly resisted this based on a core belief of contributing to the US economy and an unwillingness to diminish quality. Those companies I commend, and those companies’ products I will purchase! They are indeed out there and they deserve our business.
It has been both a fun and enlightening project and I was quite surprised and happy to find good old American made products that my family and friends could use and enjoy. And as a matter of fact I book marked a few dozen websites for things for myself in the process! So Santa, if you are reading this….
Below are some American Made gift ideas I found during my first pass I would like to share with you and I plan on updating this blog post throughout the holiday season.
- Well you may have thought any type of US produced clothing would be hard to find but it’s out there! And who hasn’t gotten or given pajamas as a gift! Check out Vermont Flannel. BTW… I actually was given a VF shirt and shorts about 10 years ago. Still have and still wear them! And it doesn’t look like they are going to wear out anytime soon! http://www.vermontflannel.com/index
- What’s more American then blue jeans, right? But blue jeans made in America these days? No way you say! While the famous brands packed up their US factories long ago, there are some little guys refusing to budge! Check out Texas Jeans http://www.texasjean.com/ and All American Clothing http://www.allamericanclothing.com
- Hmm, I suppose when you need to grab a flashlight you must be in a REAL need for light? So the one that you have to keep smacking in the palm of your hand to stay on may not be the best choice! And how much of a bargain is it in that situation? Well there’s a USA Made MAGLITE in my home, all my vehicles glove boxes, and in my backpacks & camping gear. Turns on, stays on EVERY time! TIP: The little MAGLITE Solitaire attaches to a key chain and is a great stocking stuffer! http://www.maglite.com/
- No “handy-person” would be disappointed to get a top notch pocket or belt multi-tool. This extremely handy gadget was pioneered by “Leatherman” almost 30 years ago and has been evolving ever since (and is probably one of the most copied inventions of the century!) Now they have an ingenious multi-tool for almost every activity and function. http://www.leatherman.com/
- Something for the little ones? How about some good old fashion wooden toys? Don’t think they make them like they use too? Well then check out the award winning line of wood toys by Maple Landmark. Lots of fun stuff for kids of all ages and you can personalize them with the child's name! http://www.maplelandmark.com/
- Need a gift idea that suits all ages? Or something that the whole family can participate in? How about the classic jigsaw puzzle! From 60 piece children’s puzzles to 2000 piece challenges for the master puzzler, Springbok is the oldest and most respected brand name puzzle manufactured in the USA (and they get another vote from us for having environmentally friendly manufacturing practices!) They have a great sorting & categorizing feature on their website to make finding the perfect puzzle quick & easy! http://www.springbok-puzzles.com/
So I hope I have inspired you to consider this holiday gift theme for your family and friends gatherings, office party, secret Santa, or Yankee Swaps. And please feel free to share your findings or events by joining our Facebook event. We look forward to hearing from you and we wish you a Happy Holiday season!
November 9th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
Reprinted with permission from a letter by Rita Settle to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel
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.