Monday, January 18, 2010

Still Making It

When people discuss America's present economic woes or the prospects for the future, one of the most common laments is "We just don't make anything anymore." While sometimes it does seem that everything you pick up has "Made in China" stamped on it, the truth of the matter is that America still does make things. They might not be the same things we used to make and there are definitely fewer people involved in making them, but the fears about our "not making anything anymore" are overblown.

This week, Menards--a chain of home improvement stores headquartered in Eau Claire, Wisconsin--is having a "Made in the U.S.A." sale. All of the products featured in the sixteen pages of this week's flier are made in the United States. That's a lot of stuff for a country that doesn't make anything anymore.

Let's start with the basics. You want an American flag? Made in Milwaukee.

How about a toilet seat cover? Bellmawr, New Jersey.

A storm door to keep out the cold? Brookings, South Dakota.

A new kitchen sink? Russton, Louisiana.

Some Berber carpet? Dalton, Georgia.

Hardwood flooring? Johnson City, Tennessee.

Need to fill some holes with spackling? Pryor, Oklahoma.

Electric outlets? Concord, North Carolina.

A heavy-duty adhesive? Temple, Texas.

Pre-charged well tanks? West Warwick, Rhode Island.

How about a high performance toilet? I don't know about you, but when I think of toilets, I always think about Perrysville, Ohio.

Garbage bags? Rogers, Arkansas.

Power stripper (for paint not poles)? Lessage, West Virginia.

Fluorescent light bulbs? Versailles, Kentucky (where the famous treaty was signed, right?)

Tongue and groove pliers? Meadville, Pennsylvania.

A 6-way screwdriver? Shelton, Connecticut.

Foil insulation? Markelville, Indiana.

Hardwood plywood? Medford, Oregon.

Aviation snips? Sturgis, Michigan.

Sand texture paint? Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

20oz hammer? Bushnell, Illinois.

Underlayment? Norfolk, Nebraska.

Plastic containers to hold crap? Poway, California (at least until the company moves for tax reasons).

Plastic knives, forks, spoons, and sporks? Wilton, Maine.

Doggie treats? Hiawatha, Kansas.

Hippie treats (yogurt pretzels)? New Hope, Minnesota.

Finally, after JB visits and uses your high performance toilet, you'll likely need an all purpose plunger made in St. Louis, Missouri.

These items may not be the kind of things that come to mind when people think about American manufacturing. But they are good examples that show we're not quite dead yet when it comes to being a country that makes stuff.

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