Four sales you shouldn’t miss!

I buy American made products almost exclusively, but that doesn’t mean I ignore sales of American made products.  I like a bargain as much as the next fella.  The time around the 4th of July often provides a target rich environment for sales of products made by members of our extended American family.  So here goes.

Bills Khakis

I have bought a lot of clothes from Bills Khakis over the last three years and I have not once been disappointed by the style, quality and value they offer.  So I was delighted to get a notice on my email that Bills Khakis’ Summer Sale was getting under way.  The Summer Sale includes lots of great offerings.  I plan on replacing the last polo shirts I have in my closet that were probably sewn by children in Bangladesh with a couple of real beauties offered on the Summer Sale that I know were sewn by adults in Pennsylvania.

Ernest Alexander

Ernest Alexander makes very cool luggage and bags in New York.  Right now you can get 30% off selected Ernest Alexander products, including this amazingly cool Hudson British Tan Wax Twill Messenger Bag.


Ok, you really can’t dilly dally if you want to save 35% on selected American made Okabashi sandals.  The sale ends on 6/30/15 at midnight PST.  If you want to see a great feature on Okabashi, click this link.  My favorite Okabashis are the Classic Flip Flops; they are definitely old school.

Classic Flip Flops


My REI refund voucher has been burning a hole in my wallet, so I plan to blow the whole thing on American made camping stuff at REI’s 4th of July Sale.  Now finding American made stuff to buy from the 7921 items on offer at the REI sale is fairly easy to do.  Just look on the left hand side of the page for the features tab, click the “Made in USA” box and you will be presented with 650 American products on sale to choose from.  Which is less than 10% of the sales items which is sort of depressing, but I am not going to let that slow me down.  I have my eye on two Platypus 3 Liter Big Zip LP Reservoirs, made right here in my home town of Seattle.

Ben and I drink a lot of water when we visit amazing lakes in Washington State such as Colchuck Lake which we hiked to last week.

American goods are a great value at any time of the year, but when they are on sale I often really go to town.  I urge you to do the same.  You will get a great deal and your purchases will ensure continued employment for members of our extended American family that product the greatest products in the world.

Now get shopping!

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If I were in the market

I am currently leasing a 2014 Honda Civic, which was assembled at one of Honda’s American plants and has a good deal of American built content.  But if you are in need of a new ride and want to buy an “uber” American car, the car for you may be the one pictured above, the Buick Enclave.  According to the 2015 Kogod Made in America Auto Index, the Buick Enclave boasts 87.5% domestic content.  Buick seems to be the bell cow when it comes to the highest amount of domestic content.  If you are in the market for a new car and want to buy one with the maximum amount of content produced by members of our extended American family, the 2015 Kogod Made in America Auto Index is required reading.

Now get shopping!

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Stepping up to the table

I like to eat.  You name it, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, I love a good meal.  But I wanted to ensure that the forks and knives I use to eat my meals were made by Americans.  Imagine my shock when I discovered that only one company is still making flatware here at home. But what a company!  Sherrill Manufacturing located in Sherrill, NY makes some absolutely beautiful flatware patterns under the Liberty Tabletop brand.  My favorite Liberty Tabletop pattern is the Pinehurst.

35 members of our extended American family are working at Liberty Tabletop making great flatware.  The steel for Liberty’s flatware is made in this country as are most of the products Liberty uses to turn its raw American steel into the most beautiful forks, knives and spoons you can buy.  Alice and Matt Roberts were nice enough to send along a short piece on Liberty that recently appeared on TV in New York.  I urge you to watch it and learn about Liberty, their commitment to making their products in New York and the amazing products Liberty is making that you can buy from their website.  I am absolutely certain that once my Pinehurst order arrives, all the food I eat with it will taste better.  And given my cooking prowess, I need all the help I can get!

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I’ve got a few things on my plate

I am pretty swamped these days.  In addition to my real job, my Simply American job has been growing.  I am finally finishing my book, Simply American, Putting Our Extended American Family Back To Work.  I am putting the finishing touches on my new website, Homerica, designed to let people remodel, build and furnish their homes with American made products.  And I am starting to work on developing a service to allow American firms to tell their American stories.  Whew!  So sorry for the radio silence on the blog for the last three weeks.  But there are a number of Made in America issues in the news recently that I wanted to let you know about.

A reasonable question

I have written about the problems about our cheap apparel made abroad a few times over the last few years.  Well I am not alone in questioning this practice.  I read a great article in the Baltimore Sun last week written by Dan Rodricks.  The title of the piece was “For Under Armour, why not ‘UA Made in the USA’?”  I urge you to read it.

A must see John Oliver episode

On the same subject, this last Sunday, John Oliver delivered a great segment on the high cost to others of the low cost apparel sold in this country by H&M, the Gap, and the other wealthy rag merchants.  If you don’t feel shitty buying cheap apparel made in Bangladesh or somewhere similar after watching Oliver’s piece, you need to take your soul in for a checkup.

But its not all bad news!

On the plus side, there have been a lot of great stories in the news about new products being made by members of our extended family.  A great new firm for American made furniture, Greycork, was recently featured in Forbes.  Just yesterday I was contacted by a company, Red Chapter Clothing Conmpany, whose clothing is sewn by members of our extended American family, as opposed to 12 year old girls in Bangladesh.  An article in the Times Free Press heralded that retailer for home products are clamoring for U.S. products because their customers are demanding them.  The article features products by four companies that are featured on my soon to be live Homerica website:  Blendtec, 360 CookwareVitamix and Microplane.  Finally, if you want to sleep soundly knowing you are supporting American workers, buy a mattress equipped with Leggett & Platt innersprings.  The company’s mattresses innersprings are certified Made in the USA!

So if you are in the market for virtually any product you need, there are American options for you to consider.  I urge you do not only consider American products, but make them your default choice as I have for the last four years.  Now get shopping!

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Again with the Vikings!


If you haven’t watched the Vikings series, start immediatley.  It is great drama, lots of juicy battles and a very interesting lead character, Ragnar Lodbrok.

I used to play soccer in my 20s with a Ragnar, a holding midfielder who used to scream at everyone in his blunt Icelandic accent.  But I digress.

The Vikings were amazing voyagers.  Leif Erickson visited North America five centuries before Columbus.  He was not the last Viking to come ashore on our continent.  Viking raids were known for their brutality.  Few Viking sorties in the Middle Ages in Europe were greeted with welcoming garden parties.  From everything I have read and seen, the Vikings were thoroughly scary.  So I was a bit frightened to read that a new Viking invasion of America was about to begin. I ran out and stocked up on shields and pointed sticks, but I needn’t have bothered.  As it turns out, the Vikings that are arriving in America aren’t here to plunder, but rather to manufacture automobiles.

It was reported last week that Volvo, the favorite auto brand of so many aging hippies and hip soccer moms, has decided to join BMW, Mercedes, VWHonda, Toyota, Subaru, Hundai, and Kia and produce cars in America.  No word yet on where Volvo plans to site the $500 million factory.  I am of course pulling for Washington State where I live.  In fact, I plan to let Volvo management know about the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard where Viking decendents are thick as theives.  Volvos produced in Ballard.  I love the idea.

Volvo is hoping that it can transplant its Viking spirit from Sweden to the U.S. and become very successful.  Volvo should hire a spokesman for their American cars who has already achieved what Volvo aspires to do.  I nominate Mads Mikkelsen.

While Volvo is from Sweden and Mikkelsen is from Denmark, I say close enough.  And you got to admit the guy is photogenic.  Volvo could really emphasis it’s Viking roots with images of Mikkelsen in its ad campaign.

But it needs to make sure it uses the right images.

Hey, nobody’s perfect.

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Nice work Dwell!


<br /><br /><br /><br />
  Our July/August issue is on newsstands now!<br /><br /><br /><br />

I have written about Dwell Magazine before.  Michela O’Connor Abrams, the President of Dwell Media, produces what I think is the best magazine focused on homes in their many shapes and forms.  I urge you to get a subscription to Dwell pronto.  As an added benefit, your Dwell subscription will allow you to peruse lots of great American made products for your domicile.  Just yesterday, I got an email from Dwell announcing the newest arrivals to the Dwell estore and most of the amazing wares on offer were constructed by members of our extended American family.  To wit.

Delinea Glass Pendant Light

This beautiful collection of hanging lights is hand crafted by Niche Modern in the Big Apple.  Available in nine colors, the Delinea Glass Pendant Light is unique.

modbox Midcentury Modern Mailbox

Modbox designed the Midcentury Modern Mailbox to complement homes built in the postwar era in the U.S., but its amazing lines and bright colors makes the Midcentury Modern Mailbox a cool choice for any house.  I expect lots of great mailboxes to be produced by Modbox over the next few years.

Vermonter Bench

Furniture is still a bulwark of American consumer manufacturing, and Dwell has always supported American furniture manufacturers.  The Vermonter Bench is made of American black walnut wood by Modern Cre8ve of Cleveland, OH.  The bench can be used to seat three people or can be used to display other American made products.

I applaud Dwell for their steadfast commitment to supporting American firms whose members of our extended American family are producing beautiful, functional and well made products for our homes.  Below you will find a few other great American made products you can purchase on the Dwell website.

Fairmount Hand-Stitched Leather Mirror by Lostine

Stamen Glass Vase by Niche Modern

Astrid Maple Bed by Copeland

Tenon Dining Tables by Modernica

Way to go Michela and way to go Dwell for supporting so many great American manufacturers!

Now get shopping!

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Ponder the lowly pallet.  Assembled of pine, it performs its intended role in the shipping trade admirably.  But after a few trips across the country, it is often discarded and ends up being burned or chucked in a landfill.  But the people at Windfall Lumber have discovered a better end for old pallets.  They make the most of the pallet’s banal wood,  turning it into panels  which get installed as interior siding in lobbies, offices and coffee shops.  The pallet project is simply the most recent effort by members of our extended American family working at Windfall to redeem what some would see as “trash” into useful products for the building industry.


Windfall Lumber is located in Tumwater, just south of the Capitol of Washington State. Founded in 1997 to salvage timber downed in an epic December 1996 ice storm, Windfall Lumber has expanded its “raw materials” to include the aforementioned pallets, power poles prepped but not up to spec, salvaged wood from deconstructed buildings and my favorite, old gym floors. Most of Windfall’s materials are sourced from the Puget Sound region and milled, dried, and finished at Windfall’s Tumwater manufacturing facility.

For the first ten years of its existence, Windfall sold most of its reclaimed products for use in homes around the region.  But with the housing crash in 2008, Windfall Lumber’s president, Scott Royer, and his team recognized the need to expand the market for their products into commercial and institutional projects.  They succeeded and as a result Windfall’s reclaimed wood products can be seen at Clover Park Technical College, South Sound Bank, Vic’s Pizzeria in West Olympia and the Lucky Lunchbox in downtown Olympia.  The Lucky Lunchbox sports a Windfall countertop and wall cladding that was a local school’s gym floor before Windfall’s workers got ahold of it.

South_Sound_Bank_Engineered Panel in White 

South Sound Bank, Engineered Panel in white.

Douglas fir Stairs_CPTC project_3


Clover Park Technical College, Library stairs made from beams from previously deconstructed campus building.

Resurfaced Textile Mill Flooring_Olympia Coffee

Resurfaced Textile Mill flooring as cladding in Olympia Coffee, Wildwood Center.

With the return to health of the building industry over the last four years, Windfall has been expanding its production to supply products for colleges, apartment houses and businesses.  This has required Windfall to do quite a bit of hiring to keep up with demand for its products. Windfall’s tagline is “Every piece of wood has a story”.  The same can be said for many of its new hires.  Windfall has partnered with Labor Ready to provide people to help Windfall hit its production targets.  Many of these workers have flourished at Windfall, and have beseeched Royer to come on board full-time.

One such worker is Bam Mitchell.  Bam (short for Bambino as his father calls him) joined Windfall as an employee in early February after a short stint working through Labor Ready. He moved to the Olympia area from Brownsville, TN, a town of about 10,000 people. He tells of his bad choices at home and a need to make a clean break by moving to the Pacific Northwest to live with a cousin. Though Bam intended to start on a new path after his move, he found it “hard to do good and easier to do bad for a while.” Now 26, he has discovered the importance of surrounding yourself with people who expect good from themselves and him every day. Bam started at Windfall Lumber in the denailing department. His great work ethic, communications skills and interest in learning were quickly apparent. Now he is working in the finishing area and it is a great fit all around.  “It is great to look forward to coming to work every day and being with people who want you to do good. Every day is different; there is something to learn and room to get better. I am being given responsibility and am comfortable with it.”

Antavius Mitchell

Antavius (Bam) Mitchell

Work is redemptive.  It can provide us with the foundation for a new start in life.  Windfall Lumber’s newest employees have experienced a new start through their work of providing a new life for wood products such as abandoned pallets and power poles.  What could be better?


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