Do you want to support your country by buying American, only you don’t know what’s made in the USA anymore? You are not alone. Walk the aisles of the typical big-box store, and it often seems as if nothing is made in America.
But it still is possible to find American-made versions of most products—it just takes a bit of effort. You might have to shop online or at small retailers rather than at giant chains, for example. Though American-made products sometimes are pricier than goods imported from less prosperous nations, they often are better made and longer-lasting, making them the better value.
Buying American is not just a way to support American jobs and the US economy. It also is a way to encourage the health and safety standards of the American workplace over the more dangerous factory conditions that are common in many other parts of the world. And it’s a way to protect the environment—American factories must comply with strict environmental regulations, and less fuel is consumed bringing domestic goods to market.
Important: Look for the “Made in the USA” label. The Federal Trade Commission holds companies to high standards in the use of this phrase. “Made in the USA” usually means “all or virtually all”—at least 95%—of the product’s value was created here, though rules do vary by industry. A product labeled “Assembled in the USA” simply might have been put together here from parts made elsewhere.
Here are some of the great products still made in the USA in shopping categories that now are pretty much dominated by imports…
Buying American-made garments supports not only American manufacturing but also the American farmers and ranchers who supply the raw materials…
Blazers by Anderson-Little are made in Florida. They’re well-styled and use a microfiber/wool blend that resists wrinkles. The company’s garments come with a 100% unconditional satisfaction guarantee (http://AndersonLittle.com). Example: Anderson-Little Classic Blue Blazer, $179.
Blue jeans are a classic American garment, but most of the iconic brands, including Wrangler, Lee and Levi’s, now are made abroad. Texas Jeans are made in North Carolina from American fabric. They’re sturdy, attractive and reasonably priced (www.TexasJeans.com). Example: Texas Jeans’ Original “Classic Fit” Men’s Jeans, $29.99.
Other jeans still made in the USA include the brand Round House Jeans (www.Round-House.com), Schaefer Ranchwear’s RanchHand Dungarees (www.Schaefer-Ranchwear.com) and Diamond Gusset Jeans (www.GussetClothing.com).
Golf shirts from Kansas’s King Louie LLC are American made from American fabric. Men’s and women’s garments are offered (www.KingLouie.com). Example: King Louie Skyline Pocketed cotton/polyester Sport Shirt, $31.
Leather and canvas bags made in Minnesota by Duluth Pack include a wide range of briefcases, portfolios, tote bags, purses, laptop bags, backpacks, belts, wallets and more (http://DuluthPack.com). Example: Duluth Pack’s attractive canvas-and-leather Commuter Laptop Portfolio features a thin profile and padding to protect a laptop computer, $180.
Footwear hardly is ever made in America anymore, but New Balance still makes some of its walking shoes and running shoes primarily in Maine and Massachusetts. Note that New Balance products carry the label “Made in the USA” if they are at least 70% made in this country. That’s well below the usual 95% threshold for the use of this phrase, but it still is the most American-made athletic shoe on the market. The company also makes many of its shoes overseas, so check for the “Made in the USA” label before buying (www.ShopNewBalance.com). Example: New Balance model 812 Men’s or Women’s Fitness Walking Shoe, $104.99 through the company’s Web site.
Also, outdoor apparel company L.L. Bean makes most of its products abroad, but the company’s iconic waterproof boot—the leather-and-rubber Maine Hunting Shoe—still is made in Maine. $109 to $139. (www.LLBean.com)
Among the wonderful bath and kitchen-ware still made in the USA…
Pots and pans are made in Minnesota by Nordic Ware. The family-owned company offers a wide range of pots, pans, griddles, woks, cake pans, mixing bowls, cookie sheets and microwave cookware (www.NordicWare.com). Example: NordicWare Pro Cast Original Bundt Pan Set, $22.
Flour sifters, colanders, bread pans, cutting boards and graters are handcrafted in Tennessee by the Jacob Bromwell company, just as they have been for nearly 200 years. Its products come with a lifetime money-back guarantee (www.JacobBromwell.com). Example: Original popcorn popper, patented in 1819, $39.99.
Also: Pennsylvania’s All-Clad Metalcrafters makes most of its high-quality All-Clad cookware in America, though certain components such as lids and handles are made overseas (www.All-Clad.com). 360 Cookware makes its stainless steel cookware in Wisconsin (www.360Cookware.com). Pyrex-brand glass bakeware, glass measuring cups and glass bowls are manufactured in America, mainly in Pennsylvania (www.PyrexWare.com).
Kitchen cutlery has been manufactured in Massachusetts by Dexter-Russell, Inc., for nearly 200 years. The company makes high-quality knives for professional chefs and other serious cooks. Its products are sold primarily through restaurant supply stores and online through the company’s Web site or shopping Web sites, including www.Amazon.com (www.Dexter-Russell.com). Example: Dexter-Russell V-Lo 8-Inch Scalloped Bread Knife, $24.50.
Family-owned Warther Cutlery has been making fine knives by hand in Ohio for more than 100 years (www.WartherCutlery.com).
Bathroom fixtures, including toilets, tubs and sinks, almost always are made abroad these days. A small company called Mansfield Plumbing Products still does make some—though not all—of its toilets, tubs and sinks in Ohio and Texas (www.MansfieldPlumbing.com). Example: Mansfield 135-160 white Alto Collection Two-Piece Traditional Elongated Front Toilet, about $100.
Toto, a Japanese company, makes some of its toilets in Georgia. Look for a “Made in the USA” label on the product (www.TotoUSA.com).
Most toys these days are made in China. That’s not just bad for American manufacturing, it could be bad for the health of American children—in recent years, some Chinese-made toys have been found to contain dangerous lead paint. American-made toys include…
Slinkys, those metal-spring toys that “walk down stairs,” still are made in Pennsylvania by POOF-Slinky, Inc. The company also makes many of its POOF-brand toy balls in the USA—they’re similar to Nerf balls. Check for the “Made in USA” logo on the packaging (www.Poof-Slinky.com). Example: Original Slinky, $5.50.
Toy trucks made from recycled nontoxic plastic are among Green Toys’ best sellers. The California company’s lineup of recycled-plastic toys also includes blocks, toy tool sets and toy cookware and dining sets (www.GreenToys.com). Example: Green Toys Fire Truck made from 100% recycled plastic milk containers, $27.99.
Stuffed animals are handmade in Arizona by Stuffington Bear Factory. The company uses American-made materials whenever possible (www.StuffingtonBear.com). Example: 12-inch Curly Brown Friendly Bear, $15.95.
Wood toys have been made by Pennsylvania’s Holgate Toys since 1789, the year George Washington became president. These are timeless, well-made toys that your grandchildren can pass on to their grandchildren. They are made of wood from sustainably managed forests, coated with nontoxic paints and guaranteed for life (www.HolgateToy.com). Example: Holgate Rocky Color Wood Cone Classic Wooden Toy, a stacking toy for young children, $18.
Source: Todd Lipscomb, the founder and president of MadeInUSAForever.com, a Web site that lists and sells American-made goods. Based in San Clemente, California, he is author of Re-Made in the USA: How We Can Restore Jobs, Retool Manufacturing and Compete With the World (Wiley).