Helping my wife with a project for her start-up"All American Fair" ecommerce business. I found some interesting things doing my research...I sent her this an hour ago.
“American Made” or “Manufactured in America” what do those little flag labels really mean?
Not as much as one may think. Our focus at All American Fair is the 100 billion dollar furniture and accessories business.
Is a lounge chair with the flag label on the underside of the cushion an American chair? Not really, chances are the fabric was woven in Asia. Other parts of the chair, the framing, the foam stuffing are in many, if not all foreign sourced. It’s cheaper to manufacture and in many cases in the medium and high furniture market the pricing is no lower than a piece of furniture or an accessory that is 100% sourced and manufactured in the USA. There are American designer furniture brands selling sofas in the $10,000 price range, their pieces are either manufactured in Asia or almost completely sourced there.
Why is the American Made or Manufactured label valuable?
The reason is marketing. “American Made” makes the consumer feel good about themselves and their purchase. “American Made” also makes them feel safe.
“American Made” is a strong selling point. The label has so much value that manufacturers and retailers are turning themselves inside out to attain the “American Made” cachet, without their products actually being made in the USA.
What are the Dangers of “off-shore” manufacturing and sourcing?
To start with, formaldehyde is used in paint, varnish and stain used by foreign manufacturers. Many importers offer “off gas” services to their customers.
The controls on lead based paints and other finishes are non-existent.
Another problem is mold. Molds of all kinds arrive in the fabric of pieces shipped in containers from Asia to the US. Here’s, a none too rare example, an entire container of silk pillows manufactured in China arrived at a US retailer’s warehouse, put into stock and over 80% were returned, because of the “moldy smell”. The retailer’s cost on the pillows was so low, they still made a profit.
Insects of all shapes and sizes often infest the furniture and the containers. Some are immediately noticed and the container is sprayed with powerful insecticides. The insecticide adds another layer to existing problems. Other insects slip by unnoticed and make it into the store and then into the consumer’s home.
The US standards are not followed and the rules American manufacturers are required to follow are not enforced on imported furniture and accessories. This covers the manufacture and importing of kitchen ware, dishes and utensils. Ask yourself this question, “are you comfortable eating a meal off a plate, glazed with a lead based glaze or boiling water in a teapot or cooking in a pan with a high lead content?” If you buy any of these items that are foreign made, you’re ingesting lead.
Foreign manufacturing has devastated the US furniture business, less than 15% of the 100 billion dollar furniture and accessory market in the US is made in the USA. Surveys of consumers on the direct retail level show that Americans want to buy product that are made and manufactured here. That’s the biggest reason for all the subterfuge on the labeling issue. One of the largest US retailers has a line of “America Manufactured” appliances. The appliances are made in Mexico, shipped here and one essential piece of the operating system is installed in the US. On the label of these ‘American” appliances a small notification is printed, “Assembled in the USA”. One part out of hundreds, installed after import, qualifies the appliance as “assembled” in the USA.
What are Dangers?
In addition of the danger of chemical and lead poisoning, bug infestation and mold there is also the economic danger.
The biggest and most harmful is the loss of good paying jobs with benefits on every level. A dollar earned in the local economy, circulates throughout the community and eventually has a huge effect on the national economy, depending on the level each one of those dollars multiplies over and over.
Buy American, just make sure it is really American made.