Slinkies. Horseshoes. Playing Cards. Checkers.
These iconic games are a few of the 7,000 products that fill the shelves at the Made in America Store in upstate New York. The Made in America Store is committed to selling 100% American made products. And it’s not just a patriotic spirit that brings thousands of shoppers to the store every year. Consumers are eager to get their hands on these all-American products, which range from toys, clothing, lawn furniture, flags, to pet food, and jewelry. Even the glue used to package products must be produced in the United States. Since opening its doors 10 years ago, Mark Andol, founder and owner of the Made in America Store, has seen great success with his business model. But it wasn’t pure luck—American consumers are increasingly more loyal to “Made in U.S.A” brands and products.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at American consumers’ growing preference for “Made in U.S.A.” products and how some companies are succeeding with this business model and branding.
Consumers Care about American Made
8 in 10 American consumers said they would rather buy an American-made product than an imported one, according to a 2015 Consumer Reports survey. On top of that, 60 percent of consumers surveyed said they would pay 10 percent more for an American-made product. But over the past few decades, products made in the U.S. have become few and far between.
Low labor costs and fewer regulations have incentivized many U.S. companies to ship their production from U.S. plants to foreign facilities. According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. lost roughly 2.4 million manufacturing jobs to China from 2001 to 2013. However, this practice of offshoring is showing signs of slowing down. Between 2009 and 2014, manufacturing in the U.S. grew 45 percent and added 646,000 manufacturing jobs across the country. And with the rise in Chinese wages and increased U.S. productivity, it’s predicted that the cost gap between U.S. and China will continue to close.
Today’s consumer has access to more information than ever before. With a smartphone at their fingertips, shoppers can research product materials, supply chains, and corporate ethics, leading to more conscious and empowered buying decisions. Shoppers are considering the impact of their purchases in a variety of ways. Here are a few reasons why Americans are building loyalty towards American-made products:
- Better quality
In a 5-year study by the Boston Consulting Group, they found that 85 percent of U.S. consumers think American-made products are better quality than those made overseas.
- Provides jobs to Americans
By buying American-made products, consumers are knowingly making an investment in the U.S. economy and contributing to the bottom line of fellow Americans.
- Ethical and environmental friendly practices
The U.S. is unable to regulate environmental impact in other countries, but at home in the US, companies and manufacturers are required to follow specific environmental regulations. For example, HomeGrown Cotton uses 82 percent less water, 44 percent less soil, and 38 percent less energy growing cotton on America’s family farms.
- Safe and fair labor
The Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act requires that American employees receive at least the federal minimum wage and restricts the hours that children under 16 can work. It also forbids the employment of 18-year-olds in certain jobs. In addition to these laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures that employees work in safe environments. Unfortunately, in many countries like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, slave labor still exists and their citizens are forced to work to help keep up with the demands of apparel production. By buying products made or grown in the USA, consumers feel confident that labor standards are safe and fair.
The Success of The Made in America Store
On April 3, 2010, Mark Andol opened the Made in American Store in a vacant showroom of a closed auto dealership in Elma, New York. His mission: to save and create American jobs. To reach this goal after the Great Recession, Andol committed to only selling 100% American-made products.
Andol’s desire to support American workers and companies was ingrained in him since as a child. His father worked for the Ford stamping plant in Buffalo, New York, and his mother worked for Fisher-Price, headquartered in East Aurora, New York. Andol opened and operated General Welding & Fabricating in 1989. But with the offshoring movement in full force, he lost multiple accounts to overseas competition and ultimately had to close up shop in 2007.
Andol wasn’t defeated, though. He found a new opportunity in his misfortune — bringing jobs back to the United States, especially in manufacturing, by sourcing and selling 100% American-made products at competitive prices. To this day, the Made in America Store is the only brick and mortar general merchandise store in the United States to sell 100% American-made products. Andol analyzes and researches every product that is sold in his stores. Each of the materials in products must be produced and manufactured in the U.S. Even the hangers and displays are made of 100% American-made and manufactured materials.
In the past seven years, Made in America has expanded to seven stores, sells 7,000 products, and has an e-commerce site. Tourists from around the country and world make patriotic pilgrimages to visit the store. The flagship store welcomes over 700 tour buses per year full of excited consumers who can’t wait to get their hands on real American products.
American Made is a Money Maker
The Made in the America store isn’t the only company committed to selling 100% American made products. Many companies are considering how to reshore and localize all or part of their supply chain in order to support American workers and consumers. Popular clothing retailers are creating “Made in the USA” product lines. For example, L.L. Bean partners exclusively with U.S. manufacturers to create their L.L. Bean Boots, Totes, and other clothing and home products.
One of the most successful American-made retailers in the country is Alex and Ani, an American retailer and producers of jewelry. All of the materials used in the jewelry are sourced in America and manufactured in Rhode Island. In 2010, company revenue skyrocketed from $5 million to $500 million in 2016, and is now estimated to be $1.2 billion.
Rhode Island was once considered the “Jewelry Capital of the World”, but just like many industries, manufacturers left the state to produce their products more cheaply in foreign countries. The founder of Alex and Ani, Carolyn Rafaelian, created the company in 2004 with a commitment to American craftsmanship and local talent.
But there are plenty of companies and industries making money in this market. Pet food manufacturers that source their ingredients in the United States, like Freshpet, are seeing astronomical success. Freshpet sells refrigerated food and treats for dogs and cats. All of their products use natural ingredients that are sourced from the United States and are made in their facilities in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Freshpet entered the market at the right time in 2006, a year before a widespread pet food recall in 2007 that was linked to contaminated wheat gluten from China.
While sales in other pet food categories declined a couple of years later due to the recession, the refrigerated pet food market grew by 10 percent in 2010. In 2013, Freshpet sales revenue grew by more than 44 percent. Today, Freshpet sells their products in over 10,000 stores in North America.
There are more than a hundred other retailers and brands that are committed to selling merchandise that is 100% made in the USA. Click here to see the full list.
Businesses like The Made In America Store, Alex and Ani, and Freshpet don’t have to be a novelty. With strong demand for American products, companies considering re-shoring can learn from their stories and achieve similar success.