Can ‘Made in America’ make a comeback?

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?

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– Nedra Rhone, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

20 comments Add your comment

B.C.

October 16th, 2012
7:42 am

Yes, I gladly pay a little more for products made in the USA. I have nothing against international trade, but I believe we need to support industries here when possible. No offence intended, but I absolutely refuse to purchase any food products, especially frozen seafood, from China because of my concern for their lack of safety standards. I have been looking for good quality bath towels made in the USA, so far no luck through our local retailers. The towels made offshore are high priced, but generally very poor quality in my opinion. Anyone know where I can local retailers who sell USA made textiles?

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Kay C

October 16th, 2012
9:28 am

This is a great article. Thank you. How about creating an ongoing column where made in America companies are profile as well as stores that lean toward selling made in America products? I, too, would love to buy Made In America whenever possible.

It’s kind of funny that while I was reading this article this morning there is a story on HLN about the levels of lead in children’s Halloween costumes imported from China as well as most holiday decorating items. Yet another reason to support companies that support Made In America.

Remember the old bumper sticker, BUY AMERICAN OR BYE AMERICAN.

Anthony M Falbo

October 16th, 2012
9:37 am

http://www.MadeInAmericaStore.com. Do more than complain about nothing being manufactured in the United States and shop for 100% American made items.

xxx

October 16th, 2012
10:23 am

The catch is it won’t be just a “little” more. After the unions demand their cut it will be more like double and folks simply won’t pay it, no matter how many names they are called. Face it, unions destroyed American manufacturing. Maybe they should organize the unemployed and go on strike.

Nedra Rhone

October 16th, 2012
11:05 am

@B.C. You can buy Made in America towels from 1888 Mills online at amazon.com. The company has a manufacturing plant in Griffin. They also make towels in other countries so make sure you are buying the ones with the “Made in the U.S.A.” label.
@Kay C Thank you for your comment! The AJC runs a bi-weekly feature in Sunday Living & Arts called “Southern Made” which showcases products made in the region. Check it out!

kreedham

October 16th, 2012
11:56 am

Because of labor costs things cost more made in USA. How much? Well (no way to verify) but someone said Apple could make the Ipads in the USA and the retail would go up $10-20 per unit. Seems to me, if that’s true, that people would still purchase them. Think about how many jobs that would create!

Tag

October 16th, 2012
3:05 pm

Not for labor intensive goods!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Call It Like It Is

October 16th, 2012
3:06 pm

Whenever possible I too try to buy American. For the most part my boots are Justin’s which have a plant in America and one overseas. I make sure mine come from America. Same for my work clothes either Dickies or Charhartt. And you have to be careful there also to make sure its made in an American plant. My leather jacket American made, my bike American made. It can be tough but worth the effort to buy an quality item versus an item of quanity. Oh yeah same here no fish from china. We get enough lead from their toys don’t need any more in the food.

Innocent Bystander

October 16th, 2012
3:11 pm

It is very important, when looking at American Made products, to remember that there is a very loosely enforced standard. The FTC requires at “all or virtually all” of the product be made in the US in order to carry the “Made in the USA” label. Unfortunately, what this has led to are companies that create 100% of their components overseas, then have those components assembled domestically, usually by low skill low wage immigrant workers. That then becomes your “Made in the USA” product even though the first pair of American hands that touches the product are most likely going to the end consumer.

Tag

October 16th, 2012
3:21 pm

People get real.
The unions killed Ohio; I saw it happen, I lived there.
We need a highly educated work force to keep up the standard of living in this country.
We don’t have it anymore.
When I was young made in Japan was junk
Look at how fast they adopted, and China will do it much faster.
It’s called the social DRIVE of a country. We had it until about 1980.

Tag

October 16th, 2012
3:29 pm

PS the Union TV commercial above sounded like a propaganda video from Russia.
It was done at a time when US cars were junk and most other products being produced here were being surpassed in quality by other countries.

Charles

October 16th, 2012
4:18 pm

I also search out those products that are American made, and even more I look for companies that have factories in Georgia. I will be happy to pay more for those products, like many others these days I dont spend as much as I used to. So I am more picky about where I spend my money and look for quality and origin of MFG before I look at the price. And yes sometimes you have to ask as some American companies do list products that are made overseas. You just have to ask before you buy.

Charles

October 16th, 2012
4:25 pm

As a second comment keep in mind that most companies dont go overseas to lower the price of their goods to American consumers. They move their production overseas to increase their profit margin. Instead of selling an American made product at 20% profit they make it overseas and then drop the price 5% and still make 45% profit on that part while making you think you got a bargin.

Kay C

October 16th, 2012
9:57 pm

Great point, Charles. It’s not the union that are destroying American business. It’s the greedy businesses that won’t lose *any* potential penny they can pocket.

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Kim Livengood

October 18th, 2012
10:43 am

Since 1946, Tervis has been making quality insulated drinkware that is Made in America! Their work force has tripled in size during the past three years going from 250 employees to more than 650. Go USA!

Gunter Ahrendt

October 18th, 2012
1:30 pm

I have a list of US made Products at
usproducts.yolasite.com
(1100 companies and growing)

Sara

October 18th, 2012
5:07 pm

It’s hard to find genuine Made in the USA things these days. I agree with the comment above that the FTC Made in USA rules are not always followed. I try to buy American made and will pay more for better quality. For bedding, I like the sheets and blankets from Celia Rachel. Everything they make is made here, even the material the bed linens are made from. And their stuff lasts. They have other things too, all made in America. Their website is http://www.celiarachel.com.

Anthony M Falbo

October 22nd, 2012
8:30 am

http://www.MadeInAmericaStore.com They Guarantee 100% American made products. through & through.