If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember seeing this on television:
The commercial is from 1978 , but it sounds like many conversations happening today. For several decades, “made in the U.S.A.” — a label once proudly imprinted on everything from apparel to cars — has been hard to find.
“It is very difficult to find a truly ‘made in America’ product,” says Melissia Perry, 44, a married mom of four from Woodstock. “How many plants have to shut down or jobs have to be lost because we do not manufacture in this country anymore?” she asks.
Perry drives a 2001 GM Chevy Suburban. Her husband drives a ‘68 Ford Mustang. She’s got fully functional radios and televisions from the 1940s and sometimes uses her great-grandmother’s crochet hooks to make crafts.
She’s surrounded by items from the past, but she’s an example of the future — one in which more American consumers are seeking out and buying 100 percent American-made goods.
The topic is a hot issue in the current political climate, fueled in part last summer by the outcry from members of Congress over the Chinese made U.S. Olympic team uniforms.
Retailers are responding to consumer demand.
In January 2012, AmericasMart — the Atlanta-based global wholesale market center— launched Made in America during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. The merchandise products mix includes jewelry, paper, candles, apparel and textiles, many of which and much more. Many of the products are manufactured by small independent companies that who take pride in providing local jobs, said Amy James, executive director of AmericasMart.
Buford-based Okabashi Brands, Inc., which has designed, manufactured and assembled its sandals and flip-flops in the U.S. since the company launched in 1984, is changing its tagline to reflect that history.
Traditionally, U.S. manufacturing has come with a higher cost, but as overseas labor costs increase, the gap is closing. At the same time, Americans say they are willing to pay more for American-made products. The hard part is figuring out which products are truly American made.
In addition to buying antiques, Perry says she emails or calls companies to ask if their products are 100 percent U.S. made. Sometimes she has to take her business elsewhere, and sometimes when she does find American made products, she has to pay a bit more. But she isn’t complaining. “Either society has to shift and be willing to pay a little more for something that is a little better,” Perry says, “or ‘made in America’ simply isn’t going to exist anymore.”
Are you willing to pay a little more for Made in America products? Why? And what are your strategies for making sure what you buy is really American made?
– Nedra Rhone, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog