In support of the Small Business Saturday “Shop Small” campaign on November 26th, we have asked one of our great customers, Norton’s USA, to tell their story.
I was asked to write for the Nashville Wraps blog because I buy from this great company. I have a retail store that sells only American-made products – Norton’s U.S.A. – A Uniquely American General Store, located in Barrington, Ill. I believe buying American-made products is as important to our country’s health as the education of our children. We can’t have a great country without manufacturing in America!
(Above right: Deborah with her dog Norton, after whom her store is named)
I first had the idea to open Norton’s U.S.A. after I had the good fortune to play the role of Barbara Ehrenreich in the adaptation of her book, Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. (I have had many lives: First a fashion designer, then a graphic designer, a professional actress for twenty years and now a shopkeeper). The race to the bottom that Ms. Ehrenreich witnessed was shocking and disturbing to me.
I thought, “How could we let this happen?” Cheap consumer goods, cheap labor and a downward spiral has hurt (and continues to hurt) the people and manufacturers of the United States. I started researching for consumer products that were still made in America beginning in 2003. In 2007, I opened Norton’s U.S.A. in an old barn built in the 1920’s. I had never even worked in a retail store but I wanted to do something positive for the American worker and the American manufacturer.
When I opened my doors, I had products from probably only 25 companies. Today we carry over 1,600 products from 350 different companies. Norton’s U.S.A. is a true general store. We have tools, toys, clothing, food, paper goods, jewelry, cleaning products, housewares, glassware, china, homegoods, beauty products and local fresh produce.
I also design and screen print by hand all the gift wrapping paper sold in the store. That is how I first found Nashville Wraps! While looking for American-made ribbons, I came upon Nashville Wraps and I have used them for all my packaging and ribbon needs ever since. Every time I go to re-order, I find more and more products that are made in the U.S.A. Nashville Wraps labels each product that is made in the United States so it is easy for me to know what products are made here. More and more of Nashville Wraps products are made in America, and they are also “green” which is so important to my customers and to me. The only “problem” I have with Nashville Wraps is that they ship too quickly! I usually forget to order something, and by the time I call back, even within 24 hours, my order has already shipped! I can always count on Nashville Wraps to get me my bags and boxes during the holiday rush when we run out unexpectedly within a day or two. Amazing!
I also started a grassroots campaign almost two years ago called BRING ONE HOME. The idea of BRING ONE HOME came to me while I was attending the Housewares Show at McCormick Place in Chicago in March of 2010. As I walked across the bridge over Michigan Ave., I read display boards hanging on the glass describing some of the inventions that revolutionized the kitchens in America in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. All the products listed, such as the can opener, toaster, iron, and others were then made in America. Today none of them are made here.
I realized as I stood in the middle of the huge booths set up by the large corporations that the suggestion of bringing all their manufacturing back to the United States would be seen as an impossible task. At one booth I heard myself say, “You should try to bring one product home,” and then it seemed possible! If every company slowly brought one item home at a time, they would soon see that the American people WANT American goods and their products would sell! We hunger for products made in the United States; we want the quality and safety that comes with the stamp, “Made in the U.S.A.” We also know that when we buy American we are saving an American job or hopefully creating an American job. What could be better? If you know someone in manufacturing, whether it be a family member, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger, ask them to BRING ONE HOME. It is a simple thing to ask and maybe we can turn this around. All it takes is a little courage and a little push in the right direction – back to America!
Lucky for me, my husband couldn’t sleep last night and read the current Time Magazine. Here is the link and the article “Made (Again) in the U.S.A.” I found on the kitchen table this morning! I feel the tide is turning.