CERDAFIED - A friend of mine suggested that I should buy America made for Christmas this year to help our economy. Others suggested we all buy local. Another friend suggested I should write an article about this endeavor.
I imagined at least half the items we purchased were made in America, little did I know, what I was looking for was like finding Bigfoot.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, not so much after weeks of shopping. I came with lists, bargain discount coupons clipped, and a full week of shopping ahead of me. I expected this to take more effort but I felt it was well worth it.
My strategy was simple. At the first store I would fill my cart and sort out the non USA products before going to the cashier. When I spent about two hours shopping and I had filled the basket, and gathered many items from my list, I began looking at labels and moving the items into another cart.
Out of approximately 18 items, one was USA made. A box of Cologne. The rest went back.
So I changed my strategy for the next store. Label hunting came first, and I picked up the pace.
Running from rack to rack I rifled through the labels. What I found I hated! My search became less about my list and more about finding USA products. About 40 minutes in, I began to feel like I was on a scavenger hunt, blind folded and with my feet tied together. This was not easy! I found one blouse, paper products (calendars, books, binders), and wind chimes. My teenage grandsons were not going to be happy with me if I stayed the course.
I was eliminating designer labels left and right. My list became an albatross around my neck. Only one requested item found! So I abandoned the buy USA only plan, since 4 days of shopping had proven to be a difficult obstacle course and opted to report on where our Christmas gives came from.
Below is the list of all our gifts purchased and received. (Including prior USA made purchases.)
Pants (9); USA – 4, China – 3, Malaysia – 1, Bangladesh -1 (buying American made jeans is doable)
Shirts (23) USA – 3, China -5, Bangladesh -2, Mexico -1, Pakistan -4, Vietnam – 4, Egypt -1, Nicaragua – 1, Haiti -1, Cambodia – 1
Chemical products and paper products came from the USA; 4 colognes, 4 personalized calendars, Lotion Set, paper airplane kit
Kona Coffee – USA
Yarn – USA
Bowl set – USA, Indonesia
Tools – China, Taiwan
Vest – China
Pen set – Paris
Stapler – China
Watches (3) China
Tie Clips – China
Headphones – China
Belt – China
Shaver – China
Shoes – China
Bagel Toaster – China
Movie Camera – Malaysia Bible Cover - China
Deep Fryer – China
Silverware – Vietnam
Jacket (2) - China
Olive oil – Italy
Sweater – Bangladesh
Wallet – China
Socks – China
Crochet Hooks – China, Mexico
Plates – China
Underwear – China, USA
Wind chimes (4) - USA
Of the 79 items purchased and given, with a huge effort to buy American made, 25 items were USA products. There were 29 gifts from China, improving China’s economy. I never expected so many countries to show up in our closets. Though I do not begrudge the 16 other countries the opportunity to sell their crafts here in America, I do lament that many of the labels were from companies that are American bred. Designer names we love with dirty little secrets, they are selling out the USA economy.
I was surprised that on Christmas morning, as we gathered and opened our gifts, how much fun we had yelling out the origin of our gift. USA gifts got big cheers. As I jotted down the details, enthusiasm was high, and I was pleased that my grandchildren had become more aware of what the label means to Americans. It means jobs, improved economy, and American made pride. What was once a mainstream goal is now a foreign concept.
(Lisa Cerda is a contributor to CityWatch, a community activist, Chair of Tarzana Residents Against Poorly Planned Development, VP of Community Rights Foundation of LA, Tarzana Property Owners Association board member, and former Tarzana Neighborhood Council board member.)