PRINCETON — DANVILLE, Ill. — When Tommera and Gary King take their three children to toy stores, they sometimes get strange looks from other shoppers.
These parents have taught their children to turn each toy upside down to verify that it’s been made in America before they will even consider purchasing it.
The Kings are part of the American Made Matters movement that’s growing in the nation, and they’ve tried hard to buy American products ever since their oldest son, Leo, was born eight years ago. Their other children are Gideon, 4, and Emersen, 2.
Tommera explained every item sold must indicate where it was manufactured. “Sometimes you have to really search to find where a product was made,” she added. “It’s usually on the sku tag, but sometimes you have to look closely.”
She said consumers cannot go strictly by the brands, because even though the packaging might read “Made in the U.S.A.,” the product itself may have been manufactured in another country.
“I feel we are a very patriotic family,” Gary said, “and we’re trying to do our part to keep America strong for our children.”
Since he’s been in the manufacturing business for 11 years, Gary knows that most companies deal with a host of sub-vendors on a regular basis.
Tommera said statistics show that if Americans took everything out of their homes that wasn’t made in the United States, many would be left with empty houses. She added that even with all their efforts to buy American, only about 50 percent of the items in their own home are completely made in the U.S.
“I definitely believe the quality is better in American-made products,” she said, “because so many other countries have the throwaway mentality. Here in the United States, we take pride in the quality of what we produce.”
The couple agreed that American-made products are usually more expensive, but they feel strongly that these products also are better quality because this country has higher standards and stricter regulations.
“Once we started having kids I realized that the majority of baby products are made elsewhere,” Tommera said. “You can’t find any little girl’s jewelry that isn’t made in China, which could mean that lead paint was used. And the majority of candy that kids love to eat, and even Christmas decorations and the American flag are made overseas.”
Tommera buys most of the family’s clothes online or from rummage sales so she doesn’t contribute her dollars to other countries a second time.
Tommera has operated her own business — Lasting Impressions Photography — out of her home since 2003, and she started taking photos at age 13. Her specialty is portrait photography.
“Once again I’m frustrated because it’s so difficult to find any American-made photography equipment and supplies,” she said.
Tommera is working on her degree in early childhood education. She started out by home-schooling Leo, but decided that he needed more social interaction.
“We care about our people in America, so we don’t want the great American dream moving to Beijing,” Tommera said.
The Kings pointed out that by supporting American-made products, people support American jobs and companies.
“Our children’s future depends upon our buying American-made products,” Tommera said. “Today, the promise of a better life for our children and grandchildren is being threatened.”
Mary Kay Sweikar is a reporter for The Commercial News in Danville, Ill.
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For a listing of American-made products that the Kings recommend, visit the Web site http://www.MadeInUSAForever.com.