Nearly eight in 10 American consumers would rather buy an American-made product than an imported one, and more than 60 percent said they would be willing to pay 10 percent more for certain merchandise, according to a 2013 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
“When woven into customer-facing content, the phrase ‘Made in America’ can be a powerful marketing tool,” says content marketer Mark Morelli, a former retail copywriter.
Crafting products from American-made materials is good for business, but finding homegrown suppliers – and their products – can be challenging. These tips can help guide your search.
Use the web
Whatever supplies you need to produce your creative wares, chances are, they are made in America and available online.
Online supplier directories list American-made products and materials from thousands of manufacturers, wholesalers and other product vendors. Kompass, ThomasNet and the maker-centric Maker’s Row exclusively showcase American suppliers, while directories including Wholesale Central and Wholesalers Network offer both domestic and foreign options. Other websites dedicated to promoting American-made goods include:
A Google search of “American-made products” generates thousands of websites showcasing homegrown goods, from 3M’s Post-it Notes to Sculpey’s crafting clays.
Check out the trades
Looking for American suppliers that specialize in your field? Ask for suggestions from your national trade association, such as the National Needle Arts Association or National Council of Textile Organizations. Then use trade shows to connect with vendors. Directories such as Trade Show News Network (TSNN) and 10 Times will help find the best shows for your business.
Another supply resource may already be sitting on your desk or coffee table. Trade magazines such as Interweave, Handmade Business, American Quilt Retailer and Craft Business feature ads and classifieds for U.S. wholesalers serving an array of industries.
Build a supplier network
The advantages of using domestic suppliers for your products range from high manufacturing quality to faster shipping times to increased protection for your intellectual property.
There are a number of options available to creative entrepreneurs. Just make sure to weigh the pros and cons of each before partnering with any vendor.
1. Manufacturers generally have lower prices but higher minimum order requirements.
2. Distributors may have higher prices than a manufacturer’s but can accommodate smaller order requests.
3. Wholesalers resell products from a number of manufacturers and distributors in smaller quantities to retailers and other businesses. Genuine wholesale suppliers will require your tax ID number, setting them apart from discount retailers and resellers.
4. Independent craftspeople sell the products they design and/or produce – usually in a limited quantity – directly to retailers or consumers through agents, retail locations and trade shows.
There are advantages to working with each of these, depending on your product needs.
Local organizations, including your chamber of commerce and public library, can help you zero in on products made in your city or region. Other reliable resources include fellow makers, former colleagues and even friendly competitors who patronize local vendors and can share their opinions.
If you need just a small quantity of supplies, consider local retailers. Whether you shop at big-box stores or boutiques, you’ll likely see American-made products on the shelves.
If you aren’t sure if a product was made in America, check the label. All imported goods must bear a country-of-origin label, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirements. If you’re still uncertain about a product’s origin, contact the manufacturer directly.
It may require more time and effort to find American-made products for your business, but making the investment can help set your business apart from the competition while supporting American businesses.
Key tips and takeaways
- Search online supplier directories and U.S. vendor websites to find manufacturers, wholesalers and other suppliers that sell American-made products.
- Use your industry’s trade associations, publications and shows to get connected with vendors who make U.S.-made products specifically for your niche.
- Get recommendations from colleagues, peers and business support organizations about locally and regionally made products near you.