Looking for ‘made in America’, or Wisconsin

Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

Buying American products is a goal at our household whenever possible. So when our old snowblower began to show metal stress around the sides where the blade is attached, I was happy when I got by with it and some shoveling in the last two storms in March. Although I tried finding a good selection of machines at a good price, it is difficult at the end of the season when the Wisconsin snow was still falling and most snow blowing machines were sold long ago. .

So, in October, when the new supply snowblowers were on display, I began to look for a replacement. The goal: American made and from Wisconsin if possible. About a $1,000 later, the old machine was gone and replaced by a new one with the same blowing abilities and power, a little lighter with a few more gadgets, and headlights. My Christmas present came early this year. And yes, it was made by skilled Wisconsin craftsmen and women.

Now its December and time to provide Christmas gifts to family and friends (for most we exchange gifts within a general price range ). My daughter Kate is a senior at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. For a college student we intentionally make an exception to the amount given to Kate. As with most students, she gets mostly money; including the change I save throughout the year and a nice check. In addition, we provide a large food package for her to take back to her college apartment along with some warm winter socks from the Wigwam mills in Sheboygan

Family members and few close friends, as I mentioned, will exchange presents with each other during the holidays. Some items I have purchased as gifts includes bird seed from the Kaytee company of Chilton, Door County wine, a number of books (got a great price & outstanding author), and Sierra Club Wilderness 2014 calendars.. If you noticed, and it was not an accident, most everything listed was made in the USA and other items that are often available in Wisconsin.

Did I buy anything made outside the country. Yes, a couple of t-shirts from South America for my brother Roman. Our fishing crew has encourage him to wear outdoor-looking fishing shirts when in the Canadian back country with us and suggest he retire his old buttoned office shirts now that he is fully retired. It has been a hard sell but I think he is coming around.

Looking for “Made in the America” items is easy when the product has a flag of our country on the packaging. Other times, especially when looking for clothes, dishes, and electronics, you need to read the label to see where it is made. Even that can be difficult and sometimes most of the items sold in the store are outsourced to other countries and you have little choice.

And, when the big box stores hold giant sales, price seems to overwhelm most customers. 10% off, 20% off, $50% off, all flash in front of the eyes of the buyer. While my wife tries, she does like the big discount sales. It is hard to say “no” especially when holding the discard promotion in your hand and the item is right in front of you. It looks so good.

While there is nothing wrong with buying foreign made items, there is something wrong when you have troubles finding something that is made right here in this country. If you plan ahead, you can make your friends happy at Christmas with locally made products. For a bird lover, a gift of Kaytee bird seed would be appreciated and if you love Wisconsin’s great outdoors, items made at the Wigwam Mills would help keep that someone special warm along the ski trails, or just relaxing with a glass of Door County wine by a fireplace being warmed by Wisconsin cut wood. And, don’t forget, our area is famous for its meats and cheeses, as well as other products. Local gifts like these are priceless and certainly appreciated.

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