Sunday, December 9, 2012

Made in the USA

"Made in USA" seems to be the mantra of the day. More and more people feel that the only way to improve our country's economy is by having more jobs here. However, there has to be an incentive for people to make goods here. And that stimulus is people preferring to buy products from America. When you buy American-made products, you encourage producers to hire more people, and that improves the economy. Sounds simple doesn't it?

Let’s take a step back for a moment and ask what "Made in USA" really means? To understand this better let me tell you a little bit about my experience. I started Zahoomi with the intention of helping local sellers. My goal was to connect buyers with sellers located close by, and thus help improve the local economy by keeping the money within the community. Zahoomi was (and is) set up to show stores closest to you first. It was my way of making sure the local sellers got exposure to buyers rather than being lost in the sea of sellers from all over the USA or the world.

After spending time to find my bearings, I decided to go back to my original vision and restrict Zahoomi to US sellers only. That decision made, I was all ready to join the "Made in the USA" bandwagon, when I decided to do some research to educate myself as to what it really meant. 

U.S. federal law defines when a product can be advertised as "Made in USA":
For a product to be called Made in USA, or claimed to be of domestic origin without qualifications or limits on the claim, the product must be "all or virtually all" made in the U.S. The term "United States," as referred to in the Enforcement Policy Statement, includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories and possessions.

That web page goes on to give many examples of what can and cannot be labeled as made in the USA. If clothing is made in the USA with material from the USA, then it is made in the USA. If a gold ring is made in the USA from imported gold, it is still not made in the USA. If the majority parts are imported then you can say "Made in USA with imported parts". And falsely advertising that a product is "Made in USA" can be grounds for massive fines!

However, in dealing with lots of sellers on Zahoomi, I knew that many of them worked hard and produced products that may not be called "Made in USA" using the FTC’s definition. An artisan from California who spent hours making the bracelet might have beads made overseas. Does this lessen the effort put into making this product? Although the bracelet was not strictly made in the USA, did this kind of work not generate jobs for people in the US?  

I was in a dilemma. On the one hand I did not want to get into trouble for falsely advertising products as made in the USA when they technically did not qualify for this label. On the other hand, I wanted to support all those who worked hard to produce beautiful products in the USA. After a lot of thought and countless days trying to figure out how to say "(Almost) Made in USA", I decided to simply ask people to shop American and support the American dream. 

All products on Zahoomi are made by hard working people right here in the USA. The products are not imported from other countries. However, if people do not buy these products, there is no incentive to continue to make them. The decision of these sellers to continue working and making these products depend on your decision to buy them. They may not all qualify for the Made in USA label but I am sure you will agree that buying these products is the best impetus for continued job sustenance/creation. 

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