Saturday, March 29, 2014

American-Made Watches and Bicycles from the Motor City

For everyone that is rooting for Detroit as it seeks to recover and reinvent itself, here is a great story about a company that set up shop there several years ago. Introducing Shinola of Detroit, “Where American is Made.”

Like many, I associated Shinola with shoe polish and the infamous expression, “you wouldn’t know sh@#t from Shinola!” The new incarnation of Shinola is as a company that, in addition to shoe polish, handcrafts dress watches, bicycles, and leather goods.

Shinola men’s and women’s watches are assembled in Detroit from Swiss-made components and leather bands made in Florida from U.S. leather. The bikes are assembled in Detroit from steel frames and forks made in Wisconsin by Waterford Precision Cycles, and are available in men’s and women’s frame designs in great colors.

Last, but not least, the company crafts a number of leather goods including wallets, bags and covers for those ubiquitous Apple products!

Check it out, and raise a glass to the spirit of Detroit!

Shinola of Detroit: Where American is Made

Stephanie, Cheerleader and Shopper-in-Chief

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Santa, Won't You Bring Me an American-Made Workbench?!

I've heard the expression "tool porn" so I think I have found an example of "workbench porn"! These work benches by American Workbench (Charleston, SC) are hand-build with beautiful maple butcher block tops, custom height, recessed shelves, and choice of stains. These are almost too beautiful to use, but what a wonderful piece of functional furniture in the best hand-craft tradition.

So, who's been a good boy this year?!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bosse Tools Launches American-made Ergonomic Yard Tools

Just in time for the autumn yard cleanup, and the planting of perennials, a new start-up company is working to bring American-made yard tools to the market. Bosse Tools is the brainchild of young entrepreneur Steven Walden, a recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. 

Being made in America is rare enough (try finding a U.S.-made Ames True Temper shovel anymore!), but Bosse Tools have another innovative feature: an ergonomic design with a rotatable center handle that makes it much easier to grasp the tool handle
To get his idea to market, Walden is launching a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money to begin manufacturing.

Below is a summary of my interview with Walden:

1) You say you got your idea for improved tools from your own experience using traditional shovels. How did you get from "idea" to design?

The short answer is that I’m no stranger to the shovel, and after working for my parents a few summers ago (with my mom in her community garden and with my dad at his properties in Phoenix) – I decided that I may have thought of a ‘better mousetrap.’  It shouldn’t be normal to wake up sore every day after using these tools, so why not come up with a way to make them easier to use.  I was using other tools as well, with perpendicular handles, like hedge trimmers and weed whackers, when I realized that this handle configuration can be used on a simple shovel.

I took this idea to my entrepreneurship class at Loyola Marymount University – and as a senior, I ended up winning the school competition for “new venture creation.”  What started as a class project grew into an idea for an entire line of tools, so I started Bosse Tools – the ergonomic tool company.

2) Where are your products manufactured and what was important to you in making that choice?

The best part about Bosse Tools is that we are 100% American born and 100% American made.  For me, the choice was obvious.  We have redesigned a tool for the American worker and we want it built here too.  I have faced a lot of scrutiny from potential investors and so-called 'business experts' about the strategic maneuver.  They said it is just not possible to do it in America.  I would usually tell them, "Just watch."  Next time the price of a shovel comes into question, I ask you to flip the tool over and look where it's made.  Be proud to buy American, and be proud to buy Bosse Tools.

3) What product lines are you currently manufacturing, and what ideas will you be working on in the days ahead?

Although we started with just one shovel, we realized that ergonomics can apply to all shovels, not just regular pointed ones.  We are ready to move forward with the production of our entire shovel line which includes spade shovels, flat head shovels, and snow shovels.  The plan is to be an all-encompassing tool company that manufactures all sorts of long shafted tools – anything from pitchforks to rakes and brooms.

4) How can consumers find your products?

Shoppers can go to our Kickstarter page or to

Best of luck to Steven Walden and his innovative idea!

Stephanie, Webmaster

Sunday, September 08, 2013

An American-Made Food Mill for My Vintage Kitchen

This weekend I scored a “vintage” food mill from the thrift shop. I didn’t even know I needed a food mill, but when I saw it on the shelf it just looked so sturdy and from another (non-electric gizmo) era that I had to take it home.

Made by Foley Mfg. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, this food mill is beautiful in its simplicity and utility. I’m not sure when Foley Food Mills went out of production, but they were probably in use in most of our grandmothers’ kitchens.

I have a batch of locally grown, fresh apples that I am cooking up and I will run them through my mill to make applesauce.

Enjoy the coming of autumn, and keep checking where things are made!

Stephanie, Webmaster

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Companies Work to Burnish their Image as American Manufacturers

The economics of production have shifted ever so slightly in favor of U.S. manufacturing and a growing number of companies are touting their domestic manufacturing credentials.

It made headlines when Apple announced plans to make a product in the U.S., but considering the scale of their manufacturing effort, this nibble seems more symbolic than anything else…

One of my favorite “made in USA” ad campaigns was Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” campaign. Fellow Michigan-based company Carhartt has now teamed up with Chrysler to promote “Imported from Detroit” clothing. Several years ago, Carhartt launched a “Made in USA” line (designed in Michigan, but made at factories in Kentucky and Tennessee) for shoppers who were frustrated with the growing imported content in Carhartt offerings. (Check out the "Imported from Detroit" video on the Carhartt site).

Carhartt was not the first company to feel the wrath of consumers when globalization “realities” ran up against customer brand loyalty based in part on the brand’s “made in USA” credentials. Think Craftsman, whose gradual shift away from US-made hand tools has fueled a mini-storm on the Internet.

New Balance, which has been somewhat of a hero among the “Buy American” crowd as the one remaining large-scale producer of US-made running shoes, has recently expanded to 18 the number of styles that are made at its U.S. factories. Their website uses prominent logos to indicate which styles are “made in USA” (which they define as 70 percent or greater U.S. content) or “assembled in USA” (if less than 70 percent). New Balance also has launched a new ad campaign, “America is for the Makers” that emphasizes the company’s 75-year tradition of New England manufacturing.

A recent investment article from Charles Schwab & Co. listed companies that reportedly are shifting some additional manufacturing to the U.S., in what is often called “insourcing” or “re-shoring." As the article notes, however, increases in exports include exports of energy sources, like U.S. coal, and shale oil and natural gas (including production by the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”)—but that’s a topic for another day.


Friday, August 17, 2012

More College Dorm Bedding Made in USA!

Just this morning I learned that one of my favorite sources for American-made sheets now carries dorm bedding, so I am adding another to my my list of sources!

Celia Rachel makes wonderful sheets at their North Carolina mill, and now offers jersey knit and flannel sheets, plus flannel comforters and blankets, in the Twin XL size perfect for dorm beds.

Over the last few years, I have purchased 3 sets of the Celia Rachel jersey knit sheets and they are soft and cozy, and generously sized so there is no wrestling match to get them over the mattress pad!

Great news for those of us packing up teenagers for college this fall.

Stephanie, Webmaster and Chief Shopper

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Outsourcing Care Packages

I know first-hand that working parents feel busy, and have a hard time juggling the many demands of work and family. Like many others, I am sending a kid off to college this month and that has added to my list of "to do's" so I am happy to find shortcuts, like one-stop shopping for American-made dorm bedding etc.

However, I am aghast at the mailings I am receiving from companies urging me to "Reserve your loved one's Back to School care package today"! Have we really gotten so lazy that we do not have time to put together a small "care package" for our kids away from home to make them feel remembered and cared for??

Maybe this trend is only new to me, but I think it is ridiculous! How special would someone feel to get a box of junk food, warmly packed and shipped by a company and paid for with mom's credit card?!

Yikes. Please tell me I am not the only one that feels this way.

Stephanie, Webmaster

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Finding American Made Bedding for College Dorm Rooms

For those of us who are preparing to send a kid off to college this fall, the search for those Twin XL sheets is on! I received a mail from the university early in the summer, touting a company (Residence Hall Linens) that would provide bedding guaranteed to fit the dorm beds. I promptly visited the website and although the vast majority of products were imported, I was pleased to see several bedding packs that were said to be made in USA. However, after receiving my “All American” collection, I was dismayed at the quality of the towels (very thin) and the comforter was clearly labeled “Made in Pakistan” and had a cheap feel.

Luckily I discovered another-- I think better-- option for dorm bedding from a young company called American Made Dorm. Here is what the company president, Caroline Eager, told me about her Louisville, Kentucky-based business:
American Made Dorm will celebrate its first year in business in September. All of our products - 100% - are made in America. Our mill (Victor Mill) is in Greenville, South Carolina, and we get our fabric from Mississippi. The comforters are completely manufactured, sewn, and filled in our mill with fabric that is printed in Mississippi and fill that is made in North Carolina. Our towels are from 1888 Mills, made in Griffin, Georgia, and our sheets from Mayfield Manufacturing. Our rugs from Milliken (South Carolina, “Crafted with pride in the USA"), our mattress pads and toppers from Louisville Bedding, made in both Kentucky and South Carolina, and our wall pops are made in Massachusetts! “

I took the plunge and ordered the American Dorm Bundle from American Made Dorm, and did a direct comparison of the two company’s offerings for myself (see below for the details). The American Made Dorm set was about $100 more than the set from RHL, but came with 2 sets of plush 1888 Mills towels, higher thread count sheets, and a much nicer comforter with matching pillow sham, decorative pillow and laundry bag.

Bottom Line: If you can afford the extra money (remember this should last for years), then I definitely recommend the American Made Dorm products as much nicer quality and truly made in USA.

All American Collection from Residence Hall Linens: $190
  • Pillows: 2 Standard size, filled with polyester fill, Filled in USA, cover made in Pakistan

  • Twin XL sheets: 2 sets, 60/40 cotton/polyester, 200 thread count, Made in USA by Thomaston Mills (Thomaston, GA)

  • Mattress Pad, Twin XL: Made in USA of imported and USA materials by Louisville Bedding Co. (Louisville, KY)

  • Memory Foam Mattress Topper: Made in USA

  • Towels: 2 bath, 1 hand, 1 wash cloth, 100 percent cotton, Soft, but thin. Made in USA (no manufacturer name)

  • Comforter: 100 percent polyester, Slippery, not cozy. Made in Pakistan

American Made Dorm: Cost $299
  • Pillows: 1 Decorative, Color matches comforter trim. Expressly Made for American Made Dorm, Made in USA by Victor Mill, Inc. (Greenville, SC)

  • Twin XL sheets: 1 set, 100 percent cotton, 300 count, Silky feel. Made in USA by Mayfield Manufacturing (Thomson, GA)

  • Mattress Pad, Twin XL: Beautyrest microfiber mattress pad, 200 thread count. Made in USA of imported and USA materials by Louisville Bedding Co. (Louisville, KY)

  • Towels: 2 bath, 2 hand, 2 wash cloths. 100 percent ring spun cotton loops, Thick and soft! Millennium by 1888 Mills, Made in USA

  • Comforter: 100 percent cotton duck, Expressly Made for American Made Dorm, Made in USA by Victor Mill, Inc. (Greenville, SC)

  • Pillow Sham and Laundry bag made from fabric to match comforter, 100 percent cotton duck, by Victor Mill.

[Disclosure: I have no affiliation with either of these companies other than as a customer.]

Stephanie, Webmaster and Mom

Friday, November 25, 2011

Invest in Your Future: Buy American for Christmas

It's here again! That time of year when so many of us have our annual shopping spree. Small businesses have banded together to urge us to "buy small, buy local" on Small Business Saturday. I take this opportunity to find American-made gifts for the loved ones on my giving list.

As ABC News keeps reminding us, if we all buy something made in USA we can make a difference. So, let's give the economy a boost by buying American-made products! Happy Holidays!

Stephanie, Webmaster and Junior Elf

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Made in USA—Again! Stainless Flatware and Faribault Mill Blankets

Good news! American-made stainless flatware is off the extinct species list, at least for now! Sherrill Manufacturing (Sherrill, NY) is restarting its factory for a limited production run to fill a large order from Silver Superstore.

When Oneida closed their last U.S. facility in 2005, it looked like there would be no more American-made stainless flatware. Then, the facility was purchased by two former Oneida employees and reopened as Sherrill Manufacturing! The new owners have worked hard to keep a toe-hold in the U.S. market. When orders were not high enough to keep the factory open, they were forced to lay off employees and close their doors in 2010. However, the owners refused to sell off the equipment in hopes of restarting production in the future.

Shoppers who have been holding out for American flatware now have that option and an opportunity to demonstrate that there is market demand for this product category. So, go shopping!

More good news! Faribault Woolen Mill (Faribault, MN) also is having a second lease on life! The mill is having a grand reopening this month, thanks to two local investors. The company’s new tag line is “The Revival of American Excellence.”

This wonderful mill, which had been making beautiful blankets since 1877, had closed in 2009. At one time, air travelers could snuggle up for an in-flight nap with a Faribault Mill blanket. Now we get a blanket made in China (and we pay extra for the privilege!).

As cool nights approach, I will get out my Faribault Mill blanket made from Ingeo, a corn starch-based fiber. Welcome back, Faribault Woolen Mill!

[Disclosure: I do not have any financial relationships with any of the companies mentioned in this article.]

Stephanie, Webmaster

Monday, March 21, 2011

Giving Anonymously

As I have watched the heart-breaking news coverage of the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear emergency, I cannot imagine the extent of the effort that will be required to return life in the region to any sort of normalcy. I read that the outpouring of charitable donations has not matched that seen for Haiti, possibly because we think that Japan can take care of itself.

My usual response is to donate to the American Red Cross.

Turning closer to home, I finally came across my notes about a wonderful website that was set up by a private citizen in Bellingham, WA, called The site allows donors to give anonymously to a friend in need, as a way to help without invading the recipient's sense of privacy. I loved this idea when I heard about it some time ago on NBC Nightly News. So often, one wants to help out a friend (or even a stranger) but without causing him or her embarrassment. This site is terrific.

Feeling grateful for what I have...

Stephanie, Webmaster

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year, Same Old Me

New Year's Day is always a time for reflecting on the past year, and setting goals and resolutions for the coming year. In that spirit, I sat down to make my list of resolutions. To avoid the trap of good intentions without follow-through (and to trot out my wonk credentials!), I also developed quantitative targets for each resolution or goal.

Vague ResolutionQuantitative Target
1. Eat less, exercise more.Lose at least 1 pound per month. Exercise at least 30 minutes each day. (Walking stairs counts!)
2. Spend less, save more.Monthly fixed contribution to savings.
3. Read more.Read one book per month.
4. Grow my website, StillMadeinUSA.comGoal of 100,000 visitors per month. Do a blog post once in awhile.

I'm into data, so I pulled together some statistics on my weight and my website. As shown below, both have been trending up over the last 6 years since the website was launched.

I’m against “junk science”, so I can’t claim that there is a causal relationship between my weight and the number of shoppers using my website. However, you will agree that this is very suspicious!!

Very best wishes to all for a wonderful New Year!

Stephanie, Webmaster

Saturday, March 13, 2010

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln

Today, on the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, we Americans should truly resolve to work through our differences, build on our common past, and believe in our common future…

"that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Stephanie, Webmaster

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Cannondale Takes “The Good Fight” to Taiwan

The parent company of Cannondale Bicycle Corporation has announced that it will move all remaining cycle frame production to Taiwan and reduce employment at the Bedford, PA factory from 300 to 100 workers by the end of 2010. No more American-made Cannondale bikes.

Dorel Industries, headquartered in Montreal, entered the bicycle business in 2004 with its acquisition of Pacific Cycle. After acquiring Cannondale in February 2008, Dorel separated its bicycle business into two divisions, with Pacific Cycle focusing on mass market retailers (e.g., Kmart, WalMart, and ToysRUs) and Cannondale Sports Group focusing on the more up-scale cycling market (sales through independent bicycle shops). The company hoped to capitalize on Cannondale’s legacy of handcrafted bicycles and competitive cycling. Cannondale Sports Group, now renamed Cycling Sports Group, is composed of 4 cycling brands: Cannondale, Schwinn, GT, and Mongoose.

Dorel Industries is better known to many consumers as the parent company of baby product brands, including COSCO, Safety 1st, and Mother’s Choice. The company’s website proclaims this rather odd combination of interests, with a slogan “Dorel: A World Class Juvenile Products and Bicycle Company.” Welcome to the strange world of multinational conglomerate corporations.

I guess I had better speed up my plans to buy an American-made Cannondale bike!

Stephanie, Webmaster