Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Buy American

Buying American doesn't simply mean buying American goods, it means not buying foreign goods, especially Asian goods. And it's harder than it looks. Here are some tips to keep your money at home - you may even save a little money.

1. Plan ahead and buy the best quality you can afford. You will be less likely to find a pair of American Wolverines or Red Wings if you already have a hole in your boot. Buy on the internet if you can't find local shops selling American. Try for a start. Walmart seems to be making a serious effort to carry American, especially online.

2. Research. The internet offers myriad methods of finding American made goods. Make sure that the individual item you purchase is manufactured or assembled in the United States. You might be surprised what you can find - Igloo makes refrigerators here and Element electronics is currently assembling some models of televisions in the United States. They list models and stores on their Twitter account.

3. Avoid impulse buys and stupid things. You don't need silk leaves in Fall colors. You don't need wrapping paper. You don't need Koozies. Besides, the internet can teach you to make all of those things (I love People are amazing.)

4. Buy local when you can. Find out what's available in your area. We have a Roundhouse jeans factory and Shawnee Mills, and purchase their products whenever possible. We have a farmers market. Buying local saves shipping costs and keeps your money in your neighborhood for a little bit longer. Most quilts are made in China, but local markets and fairs will often offer locally made, high-quality goods of this sort.

5. Can't find American? Buy Canadian. They get good wages, produce quality products, and they don't have to be shipped very far. Still can't find it? Try European goods - good wages, quality products. Can find it there either? Try Central American goods. Fair products, fair wages, and fair shipping costs. Oklahomans who have a problem with Hispanic immigrants in our state should know that immigrants would stay home if more good manufacturing jobs were available in their countries. Avoid Asian goods. Asians aren't the problem - factory conditions, poor wages, and foreign oil transportation costs are the problems, and they are mostly caused by American outsourcing companies.

6. Still can't find it? Buy it secondhand. Buy from Craigslist, the Goodwill, or a thrift store. Buying from American secondhand stores provides 100% profit to American businesses. Buying secondhand keeps goods out of landfills, preserves resources, and reduces pollution. You would be shocked at how many items at Austin Goodwills still have the original tags - a sad commentary on conspicuous consumption, but a boon for cheap people. Many foreign clothes aren't very well made (even the expensive ones,) so if you are looking for quality, find an American company. The U.S. Military has goods produced by American manufacturers with American goods whenever possible, so buy from surplus stores, and we buy American twice. Military goods are usually of outstanding quality.

7. Make do with what you have. Your television still works. You don't need a new cell phone. Take better care of your car. Most of the things Americans want to buy seem to be things we don't produce many of.

8. Make your own. Start a garden. Speaking of quilts, make your own. Don't throw things away unless you can't use them (but don't hoard.) Again, the internet is an invaluable resource when it comes to finding out how to make things, upcycle, and recycle. You grandmother washed out old bread bags and used them instead of Ziplocks, and you can too.

9. Spend more and buy less. High quality American goods can last a lifetime. Don't buy cheap furniture and refurnish your house every 5-10 years. Buy an antique sofa on the cheap and pay and American upholsterer to recover it. Buy things that are "classic" rather than "fashionable." Americans have made some of the best power tools - find them. If you don't spend your money on cheap foreign goods, you have more available for quality American goods.

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