Though my challenge doesn’t officially begin until the beginning of the year, like any good writer, I began to do my research early. I want to get my facts straight and choose my words carefully. Like all my articles, the research is the hardest part. I could, like some writers, just follow the product’s PR tag line, but that is not how I do things. My search has had mixed results; some bad and some very good.
The bad news was what I had expected; there just isn’t a great deal of American made outdoor products on the shelves. I searched three big named stores; Bass Pro Shops, WalMart and Eastern Mountain Sports. In all fairness Bass Pro Shops did have a few, very few, American made products. Shopping at WalMart was like shopping in downtown Beijing and EMS was just as bad.
Bass Pro Shops did carry items like Lunkah Huntah lures, which are made in Massachusetts. They had Lodge cast iron cookware made in Tennessee. In the firearms department there were a couple Henry rifles, made right here in the USA and there was American made ammo from Federal and Remington, though it was sitting right alongside ammo made in Russia. In the clothing department the only American made product I found were wool socks made by Smartwool.
What was depressing was the number of American companies represented in all the stores, so at least I knew some Americans were working, but these companies are employing far more workers overseas and bolstering foreign economies by having their products made overseas. Why? The all mighty dollar is why. There is more profit for the shareholders if they sell you inferior foreign made products. This is especially true in the fishing and clothing world. Just look at your favorite shirt or hard plastic lure and see where it was made. It really bothers me to see American money going to China, Vietnam and Russia while there are people here that are in a world of hurt. Our current president spouted off about “making America great again” and about bring jobs back to America, while at the same time having his products made overseas. It is time for him to put his money where his mouth is. If you are not part of the cure then you are part of the problem.
With that said, we are all part of the problem. It is easy to point fingers, but you can’t do so unless you take a good look at yourself first. I am as guilty as the next guy. I have foreign made fishing gear and clothing. I have some foreign made firearms. What I don’t have is any Russian made products and I never will. Unlike some people, I refuse to get in bed with the Russians.
The good news is that there are a bunch of companies, many of them small, which are making high quality American made products. Many of them were brought to my attention by the readers of ODU and for that I thank you. I will be covering some of them in upcoming parts of this saga, but I’ll mention a few now. There is Snag-Proof Lures, who uses high quality American plastic to make their lures. Then there is OT Wear who makes UV protective shirts right here in the US. For the shooter there is Twisted Driver Targets. After all, who doesn’t love to hear the ring of a bullet hitting a steel target? Those, and the afore mentioned products, are just some of the American made products out there.
The bottom line is that if you want American made outdoor products you have to look for them. If you don’t find them on the shelves, then ask for them. I will not be getting rid of the gear I have as that will be financial suicide, but I will purchase American made products as much as possible going forward. In some cases there won’t be an affordable American made alternative, but if we all buy one American made product we will keep Americans working and in turn help to strengthen our economy.