By spring of 2017, I was much more “fluent” in how to find and buy products made in the US. At the same time, I was also renovating my 1960 mid-century ranch house (still am, ha!). This meant I had a ton of opportunity to learn what’s made here and what isn’t.
The previous fall, I’d had an ancient three-season room removed; it was freaking ugly and had blocked all the light into the kitchen, so now that I had gorgeous sunshine streaming in all day, I was ready for some pretty new things! Plus, my son was coming home from college for Passover.
As part of the prep process, I cleaned out cabinets, made repairs, and painted the walls so that everything sparkled in the sun. I also took stock of my table setting. Since my existing Oneida flatware had pieces missing, I had wanted a new set for a while. It also wasn’t my favorite; it lacked “heft” and elegance, and despite being an “American” brand, it actually wasn’t made here.
My existing tablecloth was threadbare and stained from many years of use. An upgrade was definitely in order.
I already knew I wanted to purchase a Liberty Tabletop flatware set after reading a blog post about the company by the Alliance for American Manufacturing. The flatware is manufactured using 18/10 recycled US steel by Sherrill Manufacturing. The company, located in an old Oneida factory in Sherrill, NY, is the only company making flatware in the United States. (Links below.)
So that part was easy.
The tablecloth, however, proved to be tricky. My first step was to visit my local TJ Maxx, just in case they had something made here. I usually do this “local” research first to see what’s available and save on shipping costs if possible. Sometimes I get lucky. Alas, I couldn’t find anything.
Back at home, I spent a few hours searching for Made in US tablecloths. It took awhile because I was looking for traditional white Damask. I finally found 100% US grown cotton tablecloths and napkins made in Vermont by the Mountain Weavers. The linens are handwoven on 150-year old looms by master craftsmen.
I purchased the tablecloth and napkins from the Vermont Country Store. (Links below.)
It was such a pleasure setting my table with my new tablecloth and flatware. My heart was filled with joy!
(As an aside, the porch railings were manufactured in the US by Wolf Home Products. My contractor is also a “Made in USA” advocate and recommended them.)
Online research tips:
Continually refine your search phrase — A simple search for “cotton tablecloths” or “oval tablecloths” will turn up the usual big box and big online retailers. I usually start here to learn the nomenclature, then refine what I’m looking for based on what the search results show.
Add “made in USA” to your search phrase — Doing so will help narrow the field. However! Be wary of search ads that say “Made in USA.” The Google Ads platform lets retailers dynamically add keywords to ads based on searchers’ queries. I’ve learned to not click the ads and to look through the Organic results first. Why? The ads sometimes take me to product pages where nothing is made in the US.
Don’t give up too quickly — It can take some time to find what you’re looking for online. For me, I’m looking for Made in the US and mid-century modern, so I often have to look at many websites and products before making a decision.
Ask questions if you’re not sure — The one thing I’ve learned, through trial and error, is to ask the retailer directly if something is truly made in the US. You can do this via the chat function or email. If the company hedges and tells you it was “designed” or “assembled” here, or that XX% of its product line is made here, keep searching. (Yes, I’m looking at you Whirlpool and your made in Mexico refrigerator. 😬 )
Be patient — I spent over two years looking for a new set of dishes. I know Fiesta dishes are still made here, and while I like them, they didn’t make my heart sing. I finally found my dream vintage set at Savers, at a fraction of the cost of new. They were manufactured by PFALTZGRAFF from the time when they manufactured in the US. (Yes, Savers, the discount store. Find of the century.)
Fast-forward to today . . .
Last fall, I gave a presentation at my local library on how to buy Made in USA. I passed around a few pieces of the Liberty flatware and one of the Mountain Weavers napkins.
Everyone commented on the weight of the flatware and how you couldn’t find this kind of quality in the store anymore. As you can see from the box insert, the steel comes from mostly recycled 18/10 content that’s been certified safe. It’s gorgeous flatware and still shines as brightly as when I first pulled it out of the box five years ago. Best of all, I’m still thrilled to see the words, “Made in USA” on each piece.
As a bonus, the company is also eco-friendly. It doesn’t use chemicals to clean the flatware before shipping, and its factory is powered by the hydroelectric plant in Niagara Falls. Been there, Canadian side!
Because the tablecloth and napkins are such high-quality, they’ve held up through constant use and washing. I love mine so much, I purchased a set of placemats and matching napkins for every day. (Tip: Wash these linens in cold water and line dry them, otherwise, they shrink!)
Alliance for American Manufacturing — A non-profit organization that advocates for keeping manufacturing and jobs in the United States.
Liberty Tabletop — You can order sample pieces from Sherrill Manufacturing, as well as view their entire line and read their story.
Vermont Country Store — View the entire Mountain Weavers collection. (Note: Not everything at the store is made in the US.)
Wolf Home Products — View their easy-to-install porch railing line.
I’m not paid nor asked to write about Made in the USA products. The above links are not affiliate links. I buy a product and use it. If I like it, I write about it and tell everyone I know about it.
I do this because my mission is to keep manufacturing jobs stateside. This mission is my way of giving back. We like to think our “small” choices won’t make a difference. They do.