NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. — Millions of Americans are flocking to the stores with renewed consumer confidence that started on Black Friday and will continue through much of December.
Retail stores will echo with the sounds of ka-ching as cash registers hum. By the end of the month, that ringing sound will become the rattling of the chains of debt as shoppers amass significant credit card bills at big box stores, buying Made in China toys, clothes and electronic gadgets. It won't be a pretty sight if the ghosts of Christmases past are any indication.
But we can all make it a little more bearable. We should try to create our own "Miracle on 34th Street" and buy at least one Made in America item. Let’s resolve to also ask our friends, neighbors, family and co-workers to do the same.
We could start by purchasing holiday ornaments that are Made in America. Ornament manufacturers such as PEI (Photofabrication Engineering Inc.) of 500 Fortune Blvd. in Milford, Vaillancourt Folk Art in Sutton or ChemArt in Lincoln, R.I., are among the few ornament manufacturers left in America. They need our support, and that sustains or creates jobs for our neighbors!
We should also support our local farms that grow Christmas trees here in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture Greg Watson visited the Vandervalk Farm at 25 Lovell St., Mendon, after Thanksgiving to salute local farmers for their “Grown in America” trees.
It takes a little patience and determination to find American-made ornaments and gifts made in Massachusetts, let alone made in America. However, when we buy products made in this country, we are helping our local economy to recover and we’re helping to keep our fellow countrymen and women working and supporting their families and communities. The good news is that it’s getting easier to find American-made products.
Although we have a long way to go, the American manufacturing community has much to be thankful for this year. Reshoring – bringing manufacturing back to America – is now a buzzword. Caterpillar Corp., which is locally represented by MiltonCat in Milford, is bringing much of its manufacturing operations back from China. America has added 500,000 manufacturing jobs since 2010, and we’ve got our share of them in Massachusetts such as Archer Rubber and Verallia in Milford, IPG Photonics in Oxford, Karl Storz in Southbridge and Charlton, Gentex in Dudley, Precision Engineering in Uxbridge, Green Mountain Chocolates in Hopedale, and the list goes on. Americans see the quality of our country's manufacturing on the rise.
Let’s not forget services staffed by American workers, either. For many of us, we’ll be renewing our auto insurance as the New Year comes around. MAPFRE Commerce Insurance, headquartered in Webster, is the largest Massachusetts auto insurance company and employs many in the Webster area. MAPFRE, and some of the other companies mentioned, are foreign owned, however, they are employing our friends and neighbors. That might not be as helpful to our domestic economy as products and services in American-owned companies, but it’s still a boost to our local economy.
Restoring the American economy is a big job, but each of us can play our part if we take the time to find out where a product is made.
When we see something we’d like to buy and find that it’s made in some other country, we could shop a little further to see whether there’s an American-made competing product of equal or better quality for about the same price.
If we become smarter consumers by buying products made in America, we just might wake up some Christmas morning and, like the Scrooge of Dickens’ “Christmas Carol,” enjoy a new spirit in the land that would cause all the Tiny Tims to say, "God bless America, everyone!"