Americans already feel the effects of supply chain shortages even before the traditional holiday shopping season starts on Back Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Ads by retailers are advising consumers to do their holiday shopping early to avoid not being able to get the items they want to give as presents. Even if you buy early, holiday shopping won’t be easy this year. Since the supply chain shortage is predicted to last well into next year, the solution is to buy less and buy American.
In the article “It’s time for Americans to buy less stuff,” which appeared on Vox on October 21, 2021, Terry Nguyen wrote:
“Instead of opting to order our Christmas presents early, perhaps now is the time to reconsider America’s great shopping addiction.” He asks, “When the stuff we want is so hard to get a hold of, why go to such great lengths to buy it?” He opines, “Consumers have the option to not order items manufactured overseas, to source things locally from small businesses or artisans. We also have a choice that eliminates the potential for shipping or supply chain mishaps: We can just buy less.”
The rest of the article reveals his motivation for the “buy less” recommendation is based on his concern for the environment. He comments, “We know that our collective consumption of consumer goods, from the creation of plastic toys to the fossil fuels that ship them to our homes, isn’t good for the environment.” He says, “The higher-income consumers among us use far more resources than the less well-off and are responsible for influencing shopping norms at large.” He asks, “Must we continue to drown in our unlimited and unfettered need for more stuff, or could we start buying less?”
Because Chinese products are so cheap, we’ve become a nation that throws things away instead of fixing them. When small appliances cost so little, we buy a new one instead of getting the item fixed. We are constantly bombarded with ads encouraging us to buy the newest version of a product to keep up with the latest features. Our closets and dressers become stuffed with the latest trends in clothes, shoes, and accessories. Adopting a personal philosophy to buy less would have personal, environmental, and societal benefits.
Nguyen writes, “On a recent podcast, New York Times opinion writer (and Vox co-founder) Ezra Klein encouraged listeners not to think of their consumption decisions as individual or as only affecting themselves. Rather, they serve as mechanisms for ‘social, political, and moral contagion.’”
It’s not just a question of how much to buy; it’s also a question of what to buy and where you buy it. Nguyen stated, “About 70 percent of the US economy, after all, stems from consumer spending.” Therefore, the choices we make as consumers affect our whole economy.
As a result of the shortages experienced during the early stages of the COVID pandemic, consumers are more interested in buying American, According to a June 2020 study cited in USA Today, the results of a poll by FTI Consulting showed that “40% of Americans are no longer interested in buying products that are stamped with “Made in China. Nearly 80% are now willing to pay higher prices to companies that close their Chinese factories.”
The survey conducted last summer by the Reshoring Institute showed that nearly 70% of Americans prefer “Made in USA” products, and over 50% would be willing to pay more for American-made products.
Many people may say, “I can’t find American-made products to buy.” However, as more and more consumers choose to buy American, there are more and more products available that are “Made in USA.” When I attended the first “Made in America” trade show held in October 2019 in Indianapolis, IN, I was amazed at the various products on display. It was a pleasure to see American-made bedding, mattresses, furniture, rugs, draperies, flatware, dinnerware, cookware, cabinets, and other kitchen goods. These are all industries that some said were lost forever. There were also bicycles, sports equipment, tools, and children’s toys, clothing, cleaning products, skincare and makeup, specialty foods, and tools, and toys.
While there were the more traditional plastic, rubber, and metal fabricators that exhibit at shows like WESTEC, FABTECH, and Design2Part shows, there were also companies that probably don’t exhibit at traditional trade shows, including a company that builds roller coasters.
I enjoyed participating in a panel featuring the following women business owners: linens.
- Barbara Creighton, CEO of Sarati International, Inc. — offers custom formulation formulations and private-label skin care products.
- Beverlee Dacey, owner of Amodex Products — Ink and Stain Remover liquid solution
- Connie Sylvester, owner of ARM-LOC — producer of the ARM-LOC Water Rescue Innovation that slides onto the victim’s forearm and locks into place for a rescuer to pull the victim to safety
- Leigh Valentine, founder of Leigh Valentine’s Beauty — offers high-quality skincare, wellness, and beauty products that are clinically proven.
At the show, I also met the Regional Sales Manager of the Made in America store, which has a store located in Elma, NY, that features over 9,000 Made in USA products. In addition, there are hundreds of products that can be purchased online at their website.
In addition, you can also find the names of companies that make products in America here on this website of The Made in America Movement. You can search by category, such as automotive, beauty and skincare, children, clothing – men, clothing – women, footwear, home goods, kitchens, pets, etc.
The above resources should help you be able to buy more “Made in USA” products. I encourage you to choose to buy more American-made products in the future.
When we choose to buy “Made in China,” we create jobs in China, cause job loss in the United States, and provide China the money to build up its military. When we choose to buy “Made in USA,” you can be sure you’re getting American quality and not a cheap, foreign knock-off. Buying American increases the demand for domestic products, which creates higher-paying jobs in America and puts more money into the national budget. In addition, every manufacturing job generates several other jobs that support the primary manufacturing employee. It also reduces our imports and encourages more exports, which would reduce our trade deficit and reestablish balance in American trade. Most importantly, we reduce our overdependence on China every time we choose to buy American. We cannot remain a free nation if we are not self-sufficient in making the products needed for the health, safety, and national defense of our country.