As I mentioned in an earlier post – but is worth mentioning again here – Americans spend an average of $831 on gifts during the holidays, according to American Express. If we only directed an additional $3.33 towards American made products, Moody’s estimates we’d be able to create 10,000 new jobs in this country.
It sounds simple enough but even I know that finding gifts for the person who has everything is a challenge in itself, let alone a gift that’s made in America.
Which is why I’m proud to present the best of all worlds: Gifts that are made here, made well and made to potentially inject some much-needed life into the American economy with every purchase.
- Stocking Stuffers Check out Channel Craft’s toys, games and puzzles. Dean Helfer, Jr. started this company in 1983 from the back of his van and now operates a 70+ employee manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania. It’s not the kind of cheap merchandise you might find at a discount store or worldwide chain. Channel Craft’s products are the stuff of many a road trip to entertain your kids before they ask “Are we there yet” for the 500th time.
- For the Handyman: While Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. has offshored their cordless power tools, all of Milwaukee’s corded Sawzalls are still made here in the USA. I have a number of great tools, but nothing puts a smile on my face like my Sawzall. There’s just nothing that cuts through wood faster or has a longer blade life. And this is not a trick statement – Milwaukee manufactures its Sawzall blades in Greenwood, Mississippi. But at least that’s still here in the good ol’ US of A.
- For the Fashionable Sports Fan: Drawing from the rich tradition of American sports history, Ebbets Field Flannels of Seattle was founded to make historically-accurate reproductions of athletic clothing. Their wool flannel baseball jerseys, authentic fitted wool baseball hats and other vintage sports clothing bring the quality, beauty and craftsmanship of mid-20th Century American athletic garments to a 21st Century public. Be sure to order early for the holidays, as many of their offerings are made-to-order.
- For the Audiophile: We don’t make electronics here anymore, but we do manufacture some amazing high-end speakers. If the audiophile on your list has been truly nice this year, a pair of Zu Audio speakers would do the trick. Zu boasts that it has the “purest sound made in America.” I think they may also have the best looking speakers in America too. Go to their website and picture a pair of Omen Bookshelf speakers sitting in a den somewhere in your house. HiFi looks and sounds as awesome as it ever did – supplied from Ogden, Utah to dealers across America to your eardrums. The first letter in audio is Z.
- For the Chef: Many pots & pans are still made here in the US, but for something truly unique, check out Cut Brooklyn’s Chef Knives. We always think of knives in terms of infomercials that show them cutting through everything – but what about how it’s balanced? How durable it is? How beautiful it looks? Cut Brooklyn’s Joel Bukiewicz thought of all that. Really. He spent 5 years and went through hundreds of prototypes to arrive at the stunning Prospect 240 knife. How many knife manufacturers can say that kind of thing? No matter how tonight’s dinner turns out, this insures there will always be a work of art in the kitchen.
- For the Tough & Rugged: Just because you have a tough job, does that mean you can’t have a comfortable shoe? It’s a good thing Minnesota shoe merchant Charles Beckman didn’t think so at the turn of the 19th century. Ever since, his Red Wing Shoes have been delivering exceptional work boots that stand up to anything the conditions of a corn field or oil field can dish out. That said, you don’t have to be a miner, logger or farmer to appreciate the combination of toughness and comfort offered by Red Wing. Their products are still primarily made in the USA, at plants in Potosi, Missouri, Danville, Kentucky and two plants in Red Wing, Minnesota. Just make sure you check the labels before purchase, as they do manufacture some boots overseas.
- For the Self-Propelled: Bowery Lane Bicycles are hand made in Manhattan with American steel. Which is no small thing, considering 99% of all bikes in the US are not made in America. Rather than assembly lines run by machine, Bowery Lane makes every bike by human hand. They weld it, paint it, assemble it, pack it and ship it from New York. And believe it or not, they’ve kept their prices for any city dwelling cyclist very affordable too.
- For the Musician: Played by Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, John Mayer and countless others, Martin Guitars are hand made in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Martin has been family owned and operated for over 175 years, producing over one million instruments that look and sound fantastic – from acoustic guitars to ukuleles. As you can probably guess, with a company that’s been around since the time of President Andrew Jackson, they know how to make a product that lasts an awfully long time as well.
- Get Rid of the Winter Chill: When you’re curling up with a good book (or should I say, e-reader) by the fire, it’s good to be wrapped in a blanket from one of the finest manufacturers in the country. The Minnesota-based Faribault Woolen Mill Company is one of the only fully integrated woolen mills still in existence today in America. From blankets to throws to scarves, everything is made with the highest quality material and guaranteed to last through one Winter after another.
- One More Stocking Stuffer: It goes down stairs and is fun for a girl or a boy. That’s right, who could forget the classic Slinky? The original Slinky has been made in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania since 1964. However, keep in mind that the Slinky Dog and many other Poof-Slinky toys are made in China.
Need a few more? From Lodge Cast Iron Cookware to Kennedy tool boxes to Timberworks Toys to Defy Bags, we’ve got many options that are creative and built to last many, many holidays from now at Made Here Made Well.
And if you have suggestions for great gift ideas from companies that are made here, let’s hear them! We could all use some suggestions for the people on our shopping list.