Archive for March, 2011

Last week, Julie Seedorf, a columnist with the Albert Lea Tribune in Minnesota wrote a column called “Support Businesses that Support USA.”  In her column, Seedorf referenced a number of plant closings that have occurred recently in southeastern Minnesota due to off-shoring, and called on the members of her community to buy American instead of resigning to the apathetic conclusion that each of us is powerless to keep jobs here in the U.S.A. 

“Let’s join together as Americans and make a commitment to our American workers,” says Seedorf. 

Read the entire column here: http://www.albertleatribune.com/2011/03/14/support-businesses-that-support-usa/

The specific recommendation Seedorf makes to her community is to go to the Buy American Challenge blog and take the Buy American Challenge.

“I found a blog by Randy in Arlington, VA. It is called buyamericanchallenge,” says Seedorf.  “He is challenging all of us to buy ‘Made in the USA’ products. I am going to join his challenge… I believe if we stick together and support our workers we can effect a change. Take the challenge. Challenge your friends and neighbors to do the same. And don’t give up. If it doesn’t work in a year, keep it going for two, three, four or however long it takes…”

Seedorf is right.  We can make a difference and keep Americans employed if we will make a commitment to buy more things that are made in the U.S.A.  It might take a few years, but if we will each make a personal commitment to do it, and be willing talk about it with those who are closest to us, we can put millions of Americans back to work and lead our country back to prosperity. 

Thank you, Julie, for challenging your community to take the Buy American Challenge, and thank you for walking-the-walk and taking the Buy American Challenge yourself.

We need more people like you willing to challenge people to make this important life change.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.


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This is Mary, who has been buying American for three decades.

Here is a story about a woman, Mary, who has been buying American for the last 30 years.  I met Mary online when she commented on one of my postings.  I enjoyed her story so much I thought I would share it with you.  Here is Mary’s story, in her own words:

I am a 30-year-long consumer of made in U.S.A. products, so I pretty much took the Buy American Challenge three decades ago.  I don’t buy a pen unless it’s made in U.S.A.  I’m also an American manufacturer and the web person for a consumer directory of domestic products. As such, I whole-heartedly support buying American.

As a consumer and business owner, I consider not only the price of a product, but the cost to own that product.  I often spend less on domestic products than their imported counterparts.  I usually spend about the same on a domestic product as the import is priced.  Occasionally, I spend more for a domestic product than I would for an imported version. 

My buying habits were established before I ever took over the family business.  Many commercial products remain made in U.S.A. because business demands quality.  Businesses know that low quality products come with a higher cost to own.  The product will more often need repair, lack dependability, and soon require replacement. 

Somehow though, ordinary consumers have been sold the notion that they should disregard quality and value in favor of a supposedly “low price.”  It actually seems quite frivolous and somewhat extravagant to me to consider that some people spend their money repeatedly while I spend my money only once.  If business demands and receives made in U.S.A. products, there’s no reason for consumers not to make the same demand in the marketplace. 

Even though my home is filled with made in U.S.A. furniture, furnishings, appliances, apparel, etc., there are exceptions. There is Champagne from France in my home, a piece of Waterford crystal, and bananas come to mind.

Some of these items are what one would call “cheat items” on the Buy American Challenge.

For all my involvement and dedication to U.S. manufacturing, I most certainly support sound, fair and balanced trade of both raw materials and finished goods.

We have manufacturers that utilize raw materials found in other countries.  One such example is bamboo, which is manufactured in the U.S. into flooring and clothing. Our chocolate producers often use cocoa bean which is found in other countries.  As fussy as I am, I certainly don’t mind purchasing a U.S.-made chocolate made with foreign-grown cocoa beans.

Consumers also deserve choices and selection in the marketplace, especially fine products from foreign producers with an expertise.

The words “Made in U.S.A.” were always a source of pride to me but the word “imported” has changed significantly in my lifetime.

As a child in the 1960′s, just about everything was made in the U.S.A. It was actually something special and unusual, “fancy” even, when something was imported.  When a woman in the neighborhood purchased an imported set of china from England, word of the purchase spread throughout the neighborhood. “Oh, that china must be beautiful.” “I wonder how much it cost.” “Did her husband get a raise?”

Today, the word imported most often denotes junk. Unlike my childhood, the U.S. trades today not for the finest products from around the world, but for sub-standard products that realize the largest profit margins.

I have no doubt that anyone taking the Buy American Challenge will be forming a habit that will last their lifetime. I would not have continued to buy made in U.S.A. products for three decades without benefit. I’ve simply found no downside to all my purchases. I am a brand loyal shopper but that ceases whenever production moves abroad. This results in discovering new domestic brands which somehow exceed my expectations. There is nothing like a satisfied consumer – that’s me, for the past 30 years.

Thank you for sharing your story, Mary. 

If you have a buy American story to tell, please share it with us.  I hope this “My Buy American Story” can be a regular feature on this blog.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.


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Buying American when gift-giving presents an interesting dilemma.  A person may be passionate about buying American when purchasing items for their own use, but how does that apply when buying gifts for others?

I have been in this place many times in the last year, and my advice is to use your best judgment and err on the side of buying gifts that the gift-recipient(s) will actually enjoy above gifts you might buy because they are made in the U.S.A. 

The guidelines of the Buy American Challenge say that buying American only applies to you.  It does not apply to friends and family you might be buying gifts for.  So, if your nephew asks for certain pair of imported sneakers for his birthday, just get them and don’t even worry about it.  Refusing to buy gifts that are not made in the U.S.A. has the potential to anger people who do not particularly care where the things they want are made.  Although I do not share that point of view, I respect people who have it, even if they are a brother, daughter, or significant other.

This changes when the gifts are intended for you.  If you would only buy goods made in the U.S.A. for yourself, why shouldn’t you ask the same of people buying gifts for you?  When I have a birthday coming up, and I know people will be shopping for me, I always circulate a list (electronic list with links) of American-made things I would like to receive as gifts.  Not only does this make things much easier for friends and family buying gifts for you, but it also ensures you will get the American-made things you really want.  It also allows you to price-shop online ahead of time to save those buying gifts for you some cash.  Most importantly, it is a great opportunity to educate the people in your life about all the great things that are made in the U.S.A.  In my experience, people are generally happy to buy gifts that you have suggested for them to buy, and they are generally pleasantly surprised at all the high-quality, reasonably-priced, American-made things on the list. 

Actually, regardless of whether you buy American or not, I suggest sending gift wish-lists out. Putting out a list of potential gifts is a win-win for everyone.  Nobody likes to wander through the mall, picking things up, and trying to find something you think a person might like.  A list takes all the guesswork out of it.  Just be sure that it is clear your list is of options for potential gifts, and not a list of all the things you expect to get for the occasion.   My first list I sent to my family raised eyebrows when they thought I expected to get every gift on the list, and I had listed about 20 things listed. 

One important thing to keep in mind is that American-made goods sometimes cost more than imported goods.  You may have received a $30 pair of jeans in years past from a certain person.  If you send them a list of American-made gifts, make sure the list consists of items in the $30 price-range.  Don’t send them a link to $100 American-made jeans and expect them to buy those for you.  By the way, this is just an example of the kind of predicament you might discover.  In fact, American-made jeans can be found for $30.  Here is a link to beautiful pair from a great company called All American Clothing: http://www.allamericanclothing.com/products/AA301.html

One time you should go ahead and buy a gift made in the U.S.A. for someone else is when no specific gift has been requested and you are reasonably sure that an American-made gift will be liked just as much as an imported good.  I don’t think my dad particularly cares what brand of jeans he gets as a gift.  So if I know he wants jeans, I would absolutely buy a pair of American-made jeans for him.  This is another great opportunity to show those around you what great American-made products there are available.  Maybe some of these gifts will turn into brand loyalty and/or increased interest in buying American.  Don’t miss the opportunity to give American-made gifts when the chance presents itself.

Here is one final thought on buying American with regard to friends and family.  Sometimes those close to me buy imported things that they are very excited about, especially if they spent a good deal of money on the item, like a fancy jacket or watch.  When this happens, I make it a point to show exactly the same enthusiasm I would have shown if I didn’t care about buying American.  Remember, buying American only applies to you.  That means not judging others when they get things they want.  Show those around you the respect of sharing in their excitement as you would if buying American was not a priority of yours.  It will be appreciated. 

I hope you will find this gift-giving advice useful.  I would love to hear what you all think about these guidelines for American-made gift-giving.  Have you ever been in one of these gift-giving scenarios?  What did you choose to do?  Were you pleased with your choice afterward?

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.


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Tonight, ABC World News with Dianne Sawyer is continuing its groundbreaking series called “Made in America.” The series is shedding some much-needed light on the importance of buying American-made products in order to create jobs in this country.

World News Tonight airs at 6:30 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Please make sure you don’t miss it.

Thank you, ABC World News, for this terrific series.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.


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Swiss chocolate is a common cheat item for those who buy American. If you have a few imported items that you just can't do without, don't even worry about it. Continue to buy those items. What's important is that you buy American whenever you can as a general rule.

It’s time for a little more discussion about the guidelines of the Buy American Challenge.  I am going to make a strong case to buy American for a lot of people that have previously thought buying made in U.S.A. isn’t for them.  Let my highlight what is perhaps the most important guidelines of the Buy American Challenge program – you get cheat items!

This actually blows a lot of people’s minds when I tell them that.  When most people think about buying American, they picture buying nothing but goods made in the U.S.A. under any circumstances.  But that is not the program that I recommend because truly buying nothing but American-made items is near impossible without a great deal of deprivation.  Going cold turkey doesn’t work because it is too difficult to stick with it.

That is precisely why cheat items are built into the Buy American Challenge program.  It’s like building a few sweets into your diet so you don’t fall off the wagon and eat two pints of Ben and Jerry’s. Cheat items are actually very important because they make a program that could otherwise be difficult quite palatable, and actually fun.

Recently, a friend of mine who seemed interested in buying American wrote me and asked:  “But what about my French wine and Irish whiskey? More seriously… This could be almost impossible, given how many things are made overseas these days.”

For her, French wine and Irish whiskey are two items she has an existing attachment to that she is not willing to do without.  Even though she might like to buy American in lots of cases, she isn’t willing to go on a no-exceptions program because of these items.  As a result, she might give up on buying American altogether.

That is why the Buy American Challenge program allows for cheat items.  On the Buy American Challenge program, one is allowed as many as five “cheat items” (or more if you really need more).  If you simply can’t live without a specific foreign-made good, you can continue to purchase it.  My friend loves French wine and Irish whiskey, so she can continue to buy these products on her buy American program. 

The key is to get people buying American as a general rule.  That in itself is enough to make a big difference.  If they want to keep buying a few select imported goods, that’s fine.  It is still a big step in the right direction overall.

I also want to touch on another one of the Buy American Challenge guidelines very briefly.  One may buy a specific foreign-made product if the item is simply not made, grown, or raised in the United States.  My friend was concerned that a buy American program would be impossible because of how many products are now made overseas.  It’s true, some things simply aren’t made in the U.S.A. anymore.  That is why the Buy American Challenge program allows you to buy foreign-made goods if an American-made version is unavailable.  You don’t have to go without cell phones or bananas.  They aren’t made or grown in the U.S., so you should buy them as you please and not worry about it. There are plenty of other American-made items you will be able to buy.

The Buy American Challenge is about supporting American businesses and creating American jobs whenever we can.  It’s not about depriving ourselves of modern necessities.

Finally, I want to remind you that these are just guidelines.  They are a place to start for those looking for a buy American program.  But each person ultimately chooses thier own program.

Maybe, after reading this, you are realizing that buying American is easier than you thought.  Believe me, it really isn’t all that hard, especially after you get passed the first couple weeks.

I challenge you to take the Buy American Challenge for one week and see how it goes. 

I promise you three things.  First, you will spend less money than before because you will not be making nearly as many impulse decisions.  Second, the things you do buy will generally be of higher quality because American-made goods tend to be very well-made. Third, you will feel great about knowing you are helping create jobs for Americans every time you make a purchase.

I started buying American, and now I love it.  I will be doing this the rest of my life.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.


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