Friday, May 05, 2006

King Louie Spared the Guillotine!

American-made polo shirts are scarce as hens’ teeth, but perhaps will be spared the fate of the Passenger Pigeon. Pine Island Sportswear, makers of polo shirts in lots of great colors, recently decided to take their polo shirt sewing off-shore. Then came the announcement by King Louie International that, after 72 years in business, they would cease all production by June. This was “fowl” news indeed! The King Louie brand of polos and other garments are union made in USA, and have been a favorite with “Buy American” shoppers.

Now for the good news! Michael Lerner, son of the founder of the company that became King Louie International, has reached an “agreement in principle” to buy the sewing plant in Baxter Springs, KS. The company will be renamed King Louie American, and will continue to produce the King Louie label using union labor in USA.

King Louie Logo

Although the company’s market focus has been the promotional products industry, King Louie products have been available to individual consumers thanks to sites like and So celebrate the saving of a great label and 163 American jobs by ordering a King Louie polo shirt this weekend.

Sources: The Joplin Globe (Baxter Springs, KS) , King Louie Saved By Son of Co-Founder


Monday, May 01, 2006

All-American Fundraiser

Every year, our elementary school PTA holds a Silent Auction to raise money for various projects and purchases. Last year’s auction raised about $8000. The auction features items donated by areas businesses (tickets to sporting events, spa weekends, Disneyworld passes etc). In addition, each class is responsible for putting together a themed basket with a value between $75 and $250. I volunteered to organize the class basket for my youngest son’s class because I saw (another!) opportunity to raise awareness about where products are made.

I share the final results in hopes of inspiring others who have fundraisers and have an interest in helping to save American manufacturing. Not to mention, it’s fun to go shopping with other people’s money!

I sent home several flyers with suggested products, prices, and where to buy them. Some American-made products are available at local retailers like Kmart and Lowe’s. Many others needed to be purchased on-line. I suggested that parents go shopping with their children and use the exercise as a chance to talk about where things are made. (I don’t get the feeling that many parents did this.) Parents were also given the option of making a cash donation and leaving the shopping in my expert hands.

Without breaking the bank, I could not find a basket made in USA so I painted a wooden craft crate and used that for my “basket.” I attached a list of contents, including information on the manufacturer for each item. The final basket (shown below) had a value of $225 and contained the following items:

All-American Fundraiser

At Home



Martha Stewart Bath Towels (2)

WestPoint Stevens

Hand-painted mugs and matching bowl

Hartstone Pottery (Zanesville, OH)

Cast iron griddle for pancakes, pizza, or biscuits

Lodge Manufacturing (S. Pittsburgh, TN):

Colonial Treats: Sally Lunn Bread Mix, Syllabub Mix

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Backyard fun: Miracle Bubbles, Cherry Water Bombs, Wave Hoop, Wiffle Ball/Bat

Imperial Toy Corp. (Los Angeles, CA)

Pioneer National Latex (Ashland, OH)

Maui Toys (Youngstown, OH)

Wiffle Ball, Inc. (Shelton, CT)

Fashion Socks (childs and adult)

Wheel House Designs (Stowe, VT)

Sterling Silver Charm Bracelet


On the Road



USA Travel Guide, Great American Vacations

DK Eyewitness Guides, Fodor

Half-gallon Beverage Cooler

Igloo Products (Katy, TX)

Camping Mess Kit

Open Country Campware/NESCO (Two Rivers, WI)

Snoopy and Batman Playing Cards

United States Playing Card Company(Cincinnati, OH)

Crayons and Crayon Case

Crayola (Easton, PA)

Eldon (Madison, WI)

Mary-Kate and Ashley Notebook

Mead (Dayton, OH)

Storage Crate by Contempo Industries (Woodstock, IL)