Korky Vann: Look For The 'Made In the USA' Label

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my shopping resolutions for 2013. Since then, several readers have suggested I missed an important one — making the effort to buy more American-made merchandise.

It's a worthwhile goal. According to The Made In America Movement, (www.themadeinamericamovement.com), if we all purchased just 1 percent more in made-in-USA products, it would create 250,000 new jobs.

Susan Macko, owner of My New Wardrobe, a children's boutique in Old Avon Village, is doing her part. My New Wardrobe's latest marketing campaign promotes kids' clothing that are manufactured in the USA.

"People are talking about the problems with the economy and it seem obvious that if we all started buying American-made products, we'd be in a better place," says Macko. "I'm just trying to help raise awareness."

So she carries as many U.S. labels as possible, including Connecticut-based businesses Lollipop Kids and At Deb's, and lets customers know the importance of buying American.

"So far, the response has been positive," says Macko. "People think there's a big price difference between goods made here and those made outside the country, but in many cases, the prices are the same or just a little more."

That price differential may not be the determining factor for a lot of shoppers.

Research by The Boston Consulting Group last fall showed that more than 80 percent of U.S. consumers say they're willing to pay anywhere from 10 percent to 60 percent more for products labeled "Made in USA" than for those labeled "Made in China," and nearly 60 percent of U.S. consumers had chosen Made in USA products over less expensive Chinese goods at least once in the month before the survey.

Some of the country's major retailers are making the effort as well.

Earlier this month, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club announced that they will buy an additional $50 billion in U.S. products over the next 10 years. The company plans to support U.S. manufacturing on two fronts: by increasing what it already buys here in categories like sporting goods, apparel basics, storage products, games, and paper products, and by helping manufacturers return production of textiles, furniture and higher-end appliances from overseas to the U.S.

"At the heart of our national political conversation today is one issue: creating jobs to grow the economy," said Simon, in a press release when the initiative was announced. "We are meeting with our suppliers on domestic manufacturing and are making a strong commitment to move this forward."

The company says a popular misconception about Wal-Mart is where the majority of the products on its shelves are sourced. According to data from its suppliers, items that are made here, sourced here or grown here account for about two-thirds of what the company spends to buy products for U.S. Wal-Mart stores.

But even for those of us motivated to buy American, deciphering labels and figuring out where things were made can be tricky. If the label reads, "Made", "produced" "product of" or "manufactured" in the USA or America, you've got an domestically-made product. If the label says the item was "created" or "designed" in the USA, chances are it was not made here. (The Made In America Movement website offers more tips on buying American.)

Other Buy American websites:

>> Hauteamericana.com features profiles and information on high-end designers who are relocating fashion manufacturing back to the United States.

>> AmericanMadeProducts.com lists a range of made in the USA merchandise.

>> StillMadeInUSA.com offers categories of American-made products, including apparel, appliances, home décor and even wedding goods.

>> MadeInUSA.org is a search engine and database of American-made products.

>> MadeHereInAmerica.com is a directory of made in USA consumer, commercial and industrial products.

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