I look at many many articles on all things Made in America in a given week. A common refrain I read is something along the lines of “I can’t find anything still made in this country!” or “Do we even make _____ in this country any longer?” If you have been reading my posts over the last few weeks, you know that millions of members of our extended American family are still putting in their shift making us great shoes, clothes, pots, pans, glasses, messenger bags, you name it. But what doesn’t help in spreading the word that we still have lots of great consumer products being made in this country are the plethora of holiday catalogs that we are all finding jamming our mailboxes at this time of the year.
Within the last two weeks, I have gotten catalogs from ten or more well-known retailers. I just got one from REI the other day. It is typical of these catalogs. On page 6 of the REI catalog, seven “Gifts for Fitness Fiends” are offered. Six of the seven items are imported, the seventh’s country of origin is not stated. Page 8 is labeled “Gifts for Snow Lovers” and features three offerings from that great American firm The North Face; the two North Face coats and one pair of gloves are all imported. What always mystifies me about North Face products is how they can make jackets in countries where the average wage is $2.50 an hour yet still sell their coats for $260 and up. Go figure.
The rest of the REI catalog offers no solace for a person who wants to buy holiday gifts made by members of his extended American family. The Patagonia sweaters and snowsuits on page 10, imported. The North Face jackets, thermal beanie, scarf and gloves on page 11, imported. The Kid’s boots, yes Kid’s boots, on page 12, imported. As is everything on page 14, page 15, page 16, page 17, page 18, page 19 (save a pair of REI socks made in the U.S.), page 20 (origin of Novara Buzz 2012 bike unknown), pg. 21 (yeah, a U.S. made Light & Motion vis 360 Front and Rear Helmet Bike Light system), page 22, and page 23. Kind of depressing huh? But appearances can be deceiving. Do not conclude that you can’t buy holiday gifts made in the U.S. from REI or other well known retailers. You can. You just need to look in the right place.
Increasingly, retailers are offering a way to search their websites for Made in the U.S. products. REI is a leader in this trend. If you go to the REI website and enter “Made in US” in the search bar, 3935 matches for American made products magically appear. You can buy Smartwool socks, Kamik winter boots for the kids, Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads, REI brand long underwear and SealSkinz waterproof gloves from REI. So don’t despair when the holiday catalogs crammed with imported gift ideas come rumbling through your mail slot. Spurn them! Instead go to REI’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, or Sears’ websites and proudly search for Made in America products! And buy the U.S. made products knowing that you will be giving a great gift to your immediate family and also be supporting the members of your extended American family as well. Now get shopping!