Products Created in the USA

I have this very vivid memory from my childhood that comes back to me immediately when I think about the words “Made in America.” It is pretty wild how “core memories” work like that. It is said that a core memory in relation to your childhood is something significant or emotionally charged enough to have stuck with you throughout your life. This memory could be a happy memory, a traumatic one, or simply a moment that profoundly impacted your life or worldview. Some call it nostalgia, but I have this one memory I can’t shake.

(Photo by iStock)

Made in America

Let me paint the picture for you. It is the early 1990s, and we as a country were in the throes of the Persian Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm. Again, I was a kid, so I didn’t know what all of that meant. I just knew it was on the news every evening and that Saddam Hussein was the dictator that we were fighting about. I lived in a small town in Wyoming that, at the time, had a population of about 17,000. My mom had a small craft store in our local mini-mall that sold various craft items she made and sourced locally. Other stores like hers sold locally sourced or made items in that small mall. One such store sold America-themed items the owner had made or sourced locally. 

The Nostalgia Factor

On this particular day, I was drawn to a hat in that store. But not just any hat; it was a hat that had a cartoon caricature of Saddam Hussein on it with the words “SoDamn Insane” written next to it. I had to have it. It was great. I thought it was hilarious, and I vividly remember it had a “Made in America” tag just inside the cap. I don’t recall if I used the allowance money that I had been saving up for a Michael Jordan rookie basketball card or if I begged my parents for money, but I do know that the next time I went to see my mom at her store, I went and bought the “SoDamn Insane” hat and wore it with pride. 

Oddly enough, I have zero recollection of my parent’s reaction when they saw their child wearing this ridiculously awesome hat. I am sure it was fine. But I do recall a sense of pride whenever I wore the hat. It was as though I had put it on, and suddenly, I had Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless the U.S.A.” in my head. Silly right? Or is it? This is something that I look back on many years later and still get that feeling. Yes, the hat was ridiculous, but that doesn’t detract from my pride. The pride for my country and the pride to be wearing something, no matter how absurd, that was maybe (or maybe not—more on that later) made in America. Oddly enough, patriotic hats are still getting people in their feelings all these years after. But I digress.

Elephant In The Room

I told you about the “SoDamn Insane” hat memory to hopefully evoke a core memory from your childhood and think about what “Made in America” means to you now. As we all know, “Made in America” has become less common in our clothes and products over the last few decades. So, what happened?

One of the main factors is globalization and the rise in low-cost manufacturing in countries such as China and Vietnam. For those unfamiliar, globalization is a term that describes how trade and technology have made the world more connected and interdependent. Many American companies started to outsource production to other countries to take advantage of the lower labor costs and the reduced regulations. Doing this allowed these companies to sell their products at a lower price.

The Customer is Always Right

Then, as consumers, we prioritized those lower price points, increasing the demand for those low-cost, imported goods. Thus, the race to the bottom began. Now, look at us today, reliant on companies like Amazon and other e-commerce platforms for convenience. We look for the cheapest option, regardless of where it is produced.

This way of thinking has profoundly affected America’s small towns. Because they rely on local businesses and industries to provide jobs and support their local economies. When we, as consumers, choose to purchase goods produced overseas, it leads to a decline in demand for locally-made products, which results in the closure of local businesses and a loss of jobs in the community. When local businesses close, it also leads to a decline in property values and a reduction in tax revenue for each town. This makes it more difficult for the city to provide essential services, such as schools, healthcare, and public safety. The sad fact is that globalization has not been kind to America’s small towns over the past few decades.

Many American companies started to outsource production to other countries to take advantage of the lower labor costs and the reduced regulations.
(Photo by iStock)

Made in the USA Resurgence

We know that the internet and social media have revolutionized communication and created new opportunities for trade and collaboration worldwide. Transportation and logistics have also improved, making it easier and cheaper to move goods and people across borders. These facts make globalization very attractive to American and other companies abroad. When things run smoothly, of course, when they don’t, it highlights the challenges and obstacles to globalization.

Overall, the “pandemic” made us all realize the importance of having a diverse and reliable supply chain and underscored the value of buying Made in America products to support local businesses and industries. This realization brought a renewed focus on domestic manufacturing and supply chain resilience in America. 

Governments and businesses have recognized the need to reduce reliance on foreign suppliers and increase domestic production capabilities. This has led to increased investment in domestic manufacturing capacity and bringing manufacturing and other business operations back to America from overseas. Thus, we are starting to see a reverse effect, and more Made in America products are back on shelves currently than in the past few decades.

What it Means

Thinking back about that “So-Damn Insane” hat, I have no idea if it was actually “Made in America.” I don’t know if it was sourced in China, and then someone just slapped a Made in America tag on it, and some dumb kid won’t quit whining about it years later. I don’t know. So, how do you know if a product you buy is truly Made in America? Like everything, our federal government has rules and regulations that set the standard for what qualifies as “Made in America.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s standard, to be Made in America, the product needs to be manufactured, produced, and assembled in the United States of America using materials and labor sourced from the United States. Seems pretty straightforward, right? But like anything, if people can find a loophole or workaround to save a buck, they will. 

Overseas Manipulation

So, some American companies may deceptively use the label by sourcing materials or labor from overseas. Then they secretly assemble the final product right here in the U.S. To ensure that a product is truly made in America, you should look for information on the product’s sourcing, manufacturing, and assembly process and do your research on the company’s practices and reputation. 

As of late, with the importance of supporting our local towns, cities, and country, there has been a renewed focus on crowdsourced research of Made in America companies. This has helped in multiple ways. One, it helps each other in sharing companies that are entirely making their products in America, so we know whom to buy from. Two, it helps shine a bright light on those who are not and puts pressure on them to find ways to be entirely made in America so that we may buy from them eventually.

Will it always be perfect? No. Will we sometimes need products and resources from other countries? Yes. But we should always strive to look to America first. She has taken care of us, so it is time we take care of her.

There are some helpful resource tools like apps and websites that can help you locate American Made products.

Join Public Sq.—America’s Marketplace

Visit and get the app on your phone/device to hook into “the largest community of freedom-loving, patriotic consumers and businesses the nation has ever seen. PublicSq. connects values-aligned members and businesses both locally and across the country. Find amazing products and services, including exclusive discounts, from businesses that you’ll love.”

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