Saturday, November 3, 2012

Buy American - It's Time To Take A Stand

I have to confess. I used to agree that it was very difficult to "Buy American" and I will admit that sometimes it takes a little effort to do so but I've decided that I AM going to make every effort to do so. AND... if I can't BUY AMERICAN MADE then I'll buy LOCAL.

First off, let me tell you about my weekend. We did a lot of shopping. It was one of those days when we just needed to get some stuff and in particular some household items, etc. I won't lie, I did buy a number of items at a large chain store (however, in my defense it was because my daughter works there and once a year they get 30% off EVERYTHING including already on sale, clearanced items, and regular priced). But while I was shopping at this nationally owned store I noticed something; much of what they offered was proudly displayed as "Made in America." This intrigued me and made me realize it was time to look at the items we purchased to see if they were made in the USA and those that were not I went back and looked for brands that perhaps were made in the USA. In some cases they were the same price, in other cases they were slightly more and in some they were even less costly than the foreign made items.

Case in point; even if you do end up having to shop at a large chain store you can attempt to buy as much "Made in America" as possible. You also have to remember that while you're supporting a large corporation you are also helping those from your community who work there; so this corporation, while perhaps not locally owned, does support the community with jobs.

When you can, try to find the smaller locally owned stores that provide similar items. Think of it in these terms. We purchased an electric heater last year that was absolutely amazing and worked beyond our expectations. We bought it from Valu-Home Center (locally owned and corporate out of Buffalo, NY). The manager came over and spent a good 20-30 minutes talking to us about what we wanted, what HE actually had and used at his own home, how much it's saved him, and so forth. In the end he literally assured us that the one we picked was one he owned and loved and if we didn't like it we could bring it back. He also claimed he's had his for a few years now and they really stand up. Let me say, this was something less than $100 that ended up saving us well over $100 nearly every month in the winter. The blower died on it this year. Now technically it's well out of warranty and for the money we saved it's not a big deal to go buy another one. So i finally talk my guy into just calling Valu Home Center and speaking to the manager there to see if they carry the same one, etc.  Instead we end up with the manager apologizing, telling us 'he will make it right' and literally replacing the item. Now that is called customer service. What did he earn out of that? He earned a guarantee that I will NEVER shop at Lowes where I've consistently been ignored, told 'that's policy I can't do anything about it' and even had our plumber who has a professional account be treated like dirt when trying to purchase a product there to install for us (ending result me buying it direct from the manufacturer and him purchasing all of the other items he needed to install it from a small locally owned plumbing supplier). Valu Home Center not only cared about ONE customer but that ONE customer tweeted to 1,000 others about the wonderful service from them and the horrible service from Lowes. Two others retweeted that tweet and so on.

Customer service is something that most locally owned companies not only give but care about. They want word of mouth. They know they can't beat prices from most of these huge companies but what they can beat is the service. I'll pay a dollar, three dollars or even ten dollars more for something from a locally owned company and be treated like a valued customer as opposed to being treated like dirt.

So I wanted to take this moment to make a list of AMERICAN MADE items I purchased (very easily) this weekend:

Henn Pottery and Baskets -Made in Ohio for the past 25 years - quality products and customer service. They have everything from baking dishes to serving dishes to collectibles. Baskets made of the finest quality and even better yet they have outlet stores that sell these amazing items at a fraction of their value! Findley Lake, NY is where I recently found a black version of this 8x8 baking dish for $8 and an Americana Collectors Plate for a friend for $2! Their baskets are the types that people used to buy at "parties" for hundreds of dollars, many with nice lids, leather handles, and accents. Basically they sell high end pottery, baskets, candles, and more.

Tervis - Made in the USA, BPA Free tumblers, mugs, hot/cold thermal glasses, etc. Available at Bed Bath & Beyond among other places. 65 Years of being made in the USA - began in Detroit and manufactured in North Venice, Florida USA

Dimplex - Makers of fireplaces, heaters, etc. Made in Canada (Not USA but I'll support our good neighbors any day). We've tried other brands and they couldn't even match up. Not to mention they sell these at Valu Home Center (see below) and Valu stands behind their products even when they don't have to. Dimplex also goes by ElectoLog (the brand we purchased) and this tiny fireplace/heater not only adds ambiance but saves us hundreds of dollars on our gas bills in the winter!

Valu Home Centers - Yes they are now a "chain" of stores but locally owned and operated; they are based out of Buffalo, NY and have been around since their small beginnings in 1968. They're big enough to give you good deals and small enough to give you customer service that stands out FAR above these big, worthless, stores like Lowes (where I've literally had not only myself but my plumber treated like dirt & worthless - although when I tweeted about it I will say their headquarters contacted me almost instantly and asked to let them make it right... we'll see).  I just have a lot of good things to say about the service and the way they treat you like family at Valu Home Center.

Duluth Made In The USA - everything from tools to clothing and more, from Duluth, Minnesota. I swear by their No-Crack Hand Cream. Men who work hard with their hands love this stuff because it keeps your hands from cracking and bleeding. You "real men" know what I'm talking about... a hard day's work in the elements. They are also the makers of the, yes quite infamous, "Ballroom Jeans" - let's just say Duluth is basically a company for REAL men.

Made In The USA Forever Website - this is a website that prides itself is listing ONLY truly USA made products. Think you can't find that item made in the USA and only China or Pakistan or some other country can make it? Check here. Chances are you will find what you're looking for.

Wendell August Forge - this company is a short drive from me and recently experienced a fire that destroyed their entire building. Amazingly much of their castings and items survived because, well they're made to "forge" in high heats. They worked out of a small place donated to them quickly in their hometown as they rebuilt. If you want beautiful iron work pieces this is the place to go. They've been around since 1923.

Poof! - AKA Slinky - Poof Slinky has been a kid favorite for years. They make other POOF products/toys too. While they are not 100% American Made the Poof Slinky and Poof products all carry the Made In The USA Flag Label.

Our Own Candle Company - made in Findley Lake, NY and I guarantee you that these candles are even BETTER than Yankee candles for a fraction of the price! I used to be a die hard Yankee Candle fan. I would pay high prices for a good quality candle. Now I don't have to. I can drive to this tiny town and get scents that will rock your world in candles that a fraction of the price. All poured and made in the USA. This is truly my ONLY resource for candles and all natural carpet freshener that is amazing. Don't let the great prices fool you, these are QUALITY candles. You don't have to pay $30 or more for a candle that no longer seems to have the quality it used to. I'm sorry Yankee Candle, you have gone bad. You don't burn well (do not tell me I need your candle ring for on top... tried that... still doesn't burn right & I've burned your candles for years... I KNOW how to burn them). You don't smell nice and strong through the entire burn time anymore. BUT I don't really care because I pay a LOT less for a MUCH BETTER candle!

Wegmans - This grocery store grew from a "mom & pop" type of grocery store in Rochester, NY to a phenomenal grocery store chain. While growing they never lost sight of true customer service. It takes nothing but an email to their corporate office to get a quick reaction. Locally we can't say enough about the friendly staff and customer service. Family owned, family oriented this is the place to not just shop but relax with friends in their cafe; where they serve up the best subs EVER!  Get the combo meal and you not only get the best sub ever but you get a drink and an amazing cookie. We won't discuss the calories!

So there you have it.... literally a quick list of items we fell in love with while we shopped all weekend, saved money buying, and kept AMERICANS working while they made these wonderful products.

It's time we started standing UNITED.... buy local, buy US made, and stand proud to be an American! Show that pride by helping to keep American's working because you buy American made!

Do you have a product that is truly made in the USA? Perhaps it's someplace in your hometown? Add it to the comments with a link to their website. Let's make the move to promote shopping local, shopping American Made, and most of all standing united!