Made in the USA!

There is a big sign in the entrance of our Kidron store with a picture of my dad. It says, in part, “We believe in offering products made in the United States wherever possible. When we offer imported items, we choose the best quality we can find.”

This is not just something we say to sound good. We spend time every day, sometimes hours every day, hunting down USA-made products.

I will make this claim and stand by it with confidence: We have more USA product in our store by any measure (percentage of units, percentage of dollars sold, percentage of inventory value) than any other hardware store you will visit. Click here to see the proof!

But, now I’m worried that the words “USA-MADE” might be disappearing! Here’s the problem: Whole segments of American industry have been decimated by Chinese competition.

If we decided to sell only American made products and dropped the imported stuff, it would mean dropping most of our shovels, all of our sledge hammers (but click here for a USA made splitting maul), all of our teakettles, nearly all of our pots and pans, every wood-fired cookstove (but one), all but three of our oil lamps and many, many other items that people expect us to carry. In fact, they rely on us because they can’t find them or a reasonable substitute at any other store.

Another problem is the price. Let’s face it, if it’s made in America, it probably costs more. For example, compare our Chinese-made skillets (three for $22.95) to our USA-made skillets (the popular 10″ skillet is $15.95 for one). Do you care if it’s USA made? The USA skillet is higher quality. Would you still choose USA made if you thought the imported one was better quality? Would you pay more to get something that is USA made?

We care what you think, because we have a simple goal: If we know of an American-made option for any product we carry, we will get it in stock. But, we’re only going pursue that goal if our customers care about USA products.

And, for us to pursue it successfully, I not only need you to care about it. I need your help!

First, please let me know if you care about USA made items by commenting here or on my Facebook page (

Second, let us know about any quality USA-made products you find that you think we should carry. If we choose your product to feature in our catalog, website or store, we’ll even pay for your work! (Click here to learn more about how that works.)

Galen Lehman
Click here to join
me on Facebook

Note: This blog posting was in response to an email I got from a Cleveland-area customer named Timothy and a letter I got last month from Kay of New Portland, ME. I’d love to hear from you, too!

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14 years ago

Hi Galen-

It is very important to me to buy US-made items whenever I can. Unfortunately, as you have found, we often do not have a choice. So I have developed a purchasing pecking order, if you will. USA products first. Then products from other countries. As a last resort I buy items from China. It’s not that I have anything against the Chinese people. I just feel that China, the country, has the worst record as a global trading partner, the worst record in worker safety and rights, and the worst environmental record. Once we add in the costs associated with the polluted air and water they produce, the costs of their routine practice of dumping products on the global market, and the cost of a disabled, Chinese worker or two, then suddenly a $22.95 set of skillets from China is not so cheap anymore.

But even more important is that I believe we support our neighbors when we buy domestically produced items. If it costs me more to buy things that help feed, cloth, and house my neighbor, then so be it, because that is something I know I am supposed to do.


14 years ago

It is a terrible thing that “Made In The U.S.A.” is gone and the American people have oppted for a cheaper shovel, We have traded almost everything that made America for two pennies on the dollar. Shame on us. Now we have to deal with it. and I am no less to blame. every purchace I make of imported goods is more capital they need to produce more, because a U.S.A. made version may not exsist. Many factors relate to success and failure, they capitalized on them, we did not.

14 years ago

Don’t give up. It is very important to encourage buying made in USA products. People who purchase cheaper, imported products instead are essentially selling out their country. The internet makes it easier to search out made in USA products. Also, buy domestic produce. I only buy foods from USA. READ THE LABELS. Everything even clothing and toys could have a lead content. Check drugstore items, again simply read the labels, please it is worth the time…woman’s products, baby diapers, shampoos, skin lotions, school supplies…check the country of origin. Call the companies who make your favorite products if you are unsure, and tell them you need to know if their products are made in USA. Be counted! Write your representatives in Washington to tell them how you feel. We need more citizens voicing their opinion and shopping “made in USA.” Tell your friends and shop Lehman’s! Thank you, Lehman’s, for encouraging a vital national effort. Sincerely, HomeGrownTomatoes

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