‘USA Love List’ Founder Shares Tips for Buying AmericanOctober 15, 2013 10:24 pm | | Leave your thoughts
We’re excited to introduce Mansfield Plumbing’s new blog, where we’ll be interviewing industry experts, sharing bathroom trends, introducing you to the people who work here and much more.
At Mansfield, we’re proud to manufacture most of our bathroom fixtures in the U.S., and we were thrilled last month when the Wall Street Journal highlighted us for it.
As we continue to focus on growing our U.S. manufacturing, we also like to support and celebrate other American-made brands and resources. For our first post, I’d like to share one of our favorite resources for finding top-quality, American-made products: USA Love List.
This week, I spoke with the founder of USALoveList.com, Sarah Wagner, about her company and her advice for buying American.
Q: Sarah, why did you launch USALoveList.com?
A: I started USA Love List after taking a road trip with my family to Forest City, Iowa, to visit the Winnebago factory where our RV was made. The company was beloved locally, with many second-generation workers who took great pride in their jobs. I started to think about how happy people were in this small town, and how it was thriving thanks to Winnebago. Unlike residents in many other small cities, people didn’t have to move away to find jobs, and they could stay near friends and family and help build a healthy community.
Also, I grew up in Detroit, and my first job out of college was selling cars, so buying American was always important to me. I sold cars near the GM plant, and plant workers were constantly coming in to buy the cars they helped to build. It was a sustainable economy.
I noticed how people will go out of their way to buy “green” products because they realize the negative effect certain ingredients can have on the environment. I wanted to help Americans realize the positive effects buying American could have on the country overall, and the environment. I realized this was something on which I could take action and make a difference.
Q: Why do you think USALoveList.com has been so well received?
A: Many online resources exist to help people find American-made products, and they all have different personalities. My idea was to launch an online woman’s magazine, with features like, “Top 5 Mascaras to Try this Fall,” but to have all the mascaras be U.S. made. Our features are on U.S.-made products we truly recommend versus general product listings. That’s why our tagline is “Stuff We Love.” And we try to create listings that make shopping easier for our readers. We think, if I were buying x-mas presents or redoing a bathroom, how would I want to shop? I’ve organized the site by how I’d like to find made-in-America items.
Q: What are some misconceptions about buying American?
A: Some people believe American-made = more expensive, but that’s not always the case. Plenty of items made in the U.S. are the same price. I can go to Target and Walmart, and point out many U.S.-made products that are just as affordable.
Q: Any advice on how people can determine if products are made in America?
While shopping, look for those three words every time: “Made in America.” If you can’t find a U.S.-made option, still look at its country of origin and make a conscious decision based on what you know about the manufacturing practices there.
Once you start looking for those three words, it becomes an obsession. You’ll start to get a good feel for which products are U.S. made, and which aren’t.
Moms of young kids: A great way to keep your kids busy while you shop is to have them help you by searching the shelves to look for those magic words.
Q: Are there certain types of products you recommend people buy here?
While it’s great to buy all USA-made goods, there are many categories with so many great American-made options, there’s no reason to buy anything else.
Pet products: There’s nothing you’ll need for your pets (dog beds, toys, food, pet shampoo) that you can’t easily find from American companies. When it comes to pet products, imports are not well regulated, meaning you can’t be sure the safety of the pet food.
Toiletries and Cosmetics: Most major cosmetics manufacturers – Mabelline, Cover Girl, etc. – offer U.S.-made products. You just have to look at packaging to learn which are domestically made.
Foods: Many food products are made in America. And anything I feed my kids, I want to make sure it’s made in the USA.
Gifts: With gift buying, you have so much flexibility to find something special and memorable that’s also made here. Typically, with gifts, you have enough time to plan ahead to pick the right item.
However if your kid specifically wants an iPod, he’s not going to be happy with the American made alternative. However, you can still support American companies because several manufacture iPod accessories: cases, speakers and more.
Q: Any tips for finding Made in America products online?
A: Simple Google searches are great if you have a product in mind. You can search “faucets made in America,” and Google will present you with several options.
When you go to retailer websites, you can also perform the same search. For some retailers like Nordstrom and Anthropologie (which both do a great job of labeling country of origin), you can simply search “Kitchen knives USA” to get a list of options. On USALoveList.com, the websites listed in our “Shopping District” section are the ones that make it easy to find American-made goods.
Thank you to Sarah for taking the time to share some wonderful insights with us.
Be sure to stay updated on the latest and greatest American-made products at www.USALoveList.com. If you’d like a complete list of Mansfield’s made-in-America toilets, visit http://www.mansfieldplumbing.com/Why-Mansfield/Made-In-USA.aspx