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Dianna Huff

Made in USA. Cycling clothes: AeroTech Designs, Pittsburgh, PA. Bike frame: Gunnar Cycles, Waterford, WI. Custom road bike: Jamie Chatigny, Cycles Etc., Salem, NH. Water bottle: Polar Bottle, Boulder, CO. Tool bag: Road Runner Bags, Los Angeles, CA.

A strong manufacturing sector = more jobs. More jobs = strong families. Strong families = a strong America.

Your first step: Buy American.

I made a commitment mid-2014 to buy US-made products whenever possible. I did this for two reasons: I wanted to support US-manufacturers (especially small businesses — the lifeblood of our country and economy), and I wanted to help bring jobs back to the United States.

When I tell people about my commitment, they express surprise. “Can you even buy things made in the US???” people often ask. Yep, you sure can!

From these conversations, I’ve learned that some people don’t buy American simply because it hasn’t occurred to them or because they don’t know how to find products made in the USA. What follows are some tips for getting started.

Read the labels on everything

You’d be surprised at what you can find if you simply read the packaging — everything from manufactured goods like washing machines to clothing and food items. Always read the label, and be aware that “designed in the US” doesn’t mean “manufactured in the US.”

Ask salespeople “do you have Made in USA?”

Whether you’re shopping for tools at a big box store or clothing at a department store, ask store personnel if the item you’re looking for has a US version.

Research your choices before you buy

I’ve found all kinds of things made in the US, including clothes, tools, and furniture for my house, by searching online. I normally use a search phrase such as, “[item] + made in the USA.”

While you’re online, look for compiled lists that companies or people have put together. such as those by USA Love List. You can find all kinds of lists for all sorts of items — making your search for for US-made goods much easier.

Look for stores in your community

Some retail establishments across the country have started selling only goods made in the US — such as the Stars and Stripes Gift Shop in Windham, NH and Norton’s USA in Barrington, IL.

Since going “US-made” four years ago, I’ve seen a huge change in my life. I no longer purchase things on impulse or shop at discount outlets (which is where a lot of the cheap imported stuff ends up). This in turn has resulted in a cleaner and clutter-free house, and less curbside trash.

I’m also much happier because the items I do purchase are the things I actually want and need, and they’re of much higher quality. I feel really good knowing I’m supporting American manufacturing and helping to keep jobs stateside.

But the best thing is that as people learn my story, they tell me they’re now looking at labels and noticing where items are made. We think our choices won’t make a difference, but they do.

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Dianna Huff is the founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, a full service agency that tackles a host of marketing and communications challenges for manufacturing companies.

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