Made in USA….an experiment
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Made in USA….an experiment

After thumbing through the want ads received in the mail I noticed an ad for our local lumber yard called Menards.  They were having a Made in the USA sale.  They have these frequently.  When they mail ads that are just plain run-of-the-mill type, yet they still place little Made in the USA tags on all products advertised that are made here in the states.  This inspired me to attempt to start buying only American made products starting with the beginning of the New Year. 

I told my wife about this project and her reply was, you can do this but it will be impossible for me.  And that is understandable since she does most all of the shopping for our family.  Everyone else I have told about this has told me either it will be impossible or it will be costly. 

Jan. 8 – I’ve decided it is time to buy a new coat.  And my preferred style is a working man’s coat.  Living in the Midwest you’ll most likely find brands such as Carhartt®, Dickies® and others imitating the same style.  At my local tractor store they carry two brands of the same quality, design and price.  I chose the Carhartt® brand, for a few reasons.  About 80% of their product is made in the USA, they were marked down 20% and I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart® which I liken to a foreign Embassy. However, my coat says it was made in Mexico with fabric grown in USA.  By FTC standards this product does not qualify for made in the USA. Dang! 

Jan. 12 – My wife’s van needs new tires.  We have been holding out and saving money to purchase new tires but alas, car trouble has sucked our tire fund dry so we are left searching for used tires.  With her commuting to work every day on the interstate in winter, I told her to buy a quality brand of tire.  Unfortunately, the only quality used tires, in a set, were Michelins®.  Michelin® tires are not American made but these were made in Canada.  I can live with that when it comes to safety for my wife.  My truck however is also in need of tires so the hunt will begin for American made tires for the old Dodge.

Jan. 17 – I had almost forgotten about my own project until my fuel pump went out in my truck.  While researching for the best deal I noticed that my local parts store not only had a great discount over competitors, but the fuel pump I bought, was in fact, made in the USA.  Since buying this part I have placed a sticky note above the computer reminding me to buy American.

Jan. 22 – As life would have it, the fuel pump in my wife’s van failed.  As with my truck, the fuel pump I plan to buy is made in America. This happens to be the only original equipment replacement they have besides their Bosch® counterpart which is seventy dollars more. 

I will be on the hunt for tires soon and a car for my oldest child.  I believe my quest for buying an American made car for her will be easy since I plan to buy an older automobile of the 60’s to 80’s era. 

It is really surprising how much time is involved trying to buy American made goods.  The wife and I went to Apple Market®, which is our closest local grocery store, and my spirits were lifted as we came to the produce section.  We always start out in the produce section feeling healthy and all for buying carrots and things.  In that section they have their produce marked as country of origin, which is fantastic for me since it cuts my shopping time down.  However, while making our way down aisle after aisle for other products our time is yet consumed as we scour the labels to find where our canned beans or salsa was made.  I feel we did pretty darn well on that outing.  We may have spent an extra half hour at the store, but I feel good that I have bought our countries products.

Now back to my search for American made tires.  From all the information I have gathered via the internet, I have narrowed my tires to 3 brands; Goodyear®, Cooper®, and Kelly Springfield®.  I have to be careful and check the sidewall of tires I plan to buy though because some do have a small percentage imported.

Feb. 2 – Well the American made fuel pump I bought for my van was a failure right out of the box.  So I have to return it and settled for a genuine dealer part.  The van is running fine now. 

Writing a memoir about buy goods is not as easy as just writing since it is based on me spending money.  Most of us don’t buy things every day except for the occasional soft drink. However, I have gotten my coworkers noticing where things are made which makes me feel a little better.

I did purchase some Kiwi® brand boot waterproofing but I could not find exactly where it was made since Kiwi® products are made in ten different countries including the USA.

Feb. 25 – It has been awhile since I have made any purchases, however I did buy the cheapest toothbrush in the grocery store and it just happen to be made in America. 

Being a mechanic it is really tough finding quality tools that are affordable.  Before I started this quest to buy American I just bought whatever tool I needed based on what I could afford.  The last company I worked for supplied all my tools so I had just the basics at home to get me by on my own personal repairs.  When I started working at my current employer I had to provide all my own tools.  For just the basic tools to get me buy and a toolbox I could have easily spent over $3000 dollars buying American made quality tools.  However, needing a job and not having much money, I went cheap and bought some china tools along with American tools.  Recently on a service call I needed an oil filter strap wrench so I stopped in at the local tool store in North Dakota and found an American made wrench, the size I needed, made buy Ridgid® at the tune of $50 dollars.

I will be due for a new pair of steel toe work boots soon and believe I will stick with my Carolina® boots since they are Union-Made boots built right here in the USA.

Mar. 8 – Today our faucet finally let go, it went from a slow drip to running water in three days.  In haste I did not have a chance to do any research on American made faucets but I ended up buying a Delta® for the reason that our old one was the same brand and it was the original in our house which is 50 plus years old.  The faucet I bought is guaranteed for life to the original purchaser and claims to be leak free and lead free since the water never touches the metal.  Now this faucet was assembled in the USA with foreign and domestic parts so I guess I got a 75% on this purchase.

Mar. 21- I was needing a metric hex head wrench that was half as long on the short end and rather than cut up a good one I went to buy a cheap china one to cut up but to my surprise I found a cheap set made in the USA by Eklind® and they were cheaper than the foreign brands.

Apr. 8- I needed new cables for my motorcycle and found Barnett cables to be competitively priced and American made.

Apr.19- My job requires me to furnish my own tools and for over a year now I have collected some here and there but have still not quite gotten everything I need so I just borrow some tools from the other guys I work with, but it is getting old.  I decided I need more of my own tools but they are so expensive for quality tools and quality tools are definitely made here in the good old USA.  There are some tools a person can compromise on for quality such as punches and solid tools of that nature.

 Well it’s a sad day in Mudville folks, I had to break down and go to the local tool warehouse and buy foreign made tools. The fact of the matter is I purchased what would have cost me well over $400 usd in tools for the price of $150 usd.  I need tools to do my job so this is where buying American loses out.  It hurts to not have supported my countries industry but I provide 75% of my family income and I needed tools to do my job.  So this is where my experiment ends.

I have a new view on what I purchase.  I always catch myself looking for that Made in USA stamp and not just my purchases but my employers’ as well.  I will continue to buy American if at all possible.  But the realization is some things you just cannot find American made and others are too expensive.  Hopefully one day we will be competitive in the market of our own country.  Try to support the small business, buy American and maybe we can revitalize our pride and dignity our parents and grandparents once held dear.

There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. Very well done. What you have done very well is point out that we can at least be aware of what we are purchasing. You correctly noted that sometimes compromise is necessary – but being aware of the compromise makes you a more savvy shopper and a more patriotic America.

    America was built on the free spirit of capitalism. Strict capitalist judgment would dictate that we purchase the best product for the price – no matter where it comes from. But we live in an unfair world market – other countries, like China, have limited labor laws – there is little protection for their workers. Consequently the Chinese can manufacture products at a lower cost. My notion is that it is not fair to American labor to have to reduce their standard of living to compete with the corrupt Chinese. Our government could force tariffs on goods imported from abusive countries – but that would drive up the cost to American consumers.

    The world market that we live in today is creating new economic paradigms. Your post does a good job of bringing the world economy down to a personal and understandable level. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

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