Pull up a chair, and let me tell you about these American-made products

Continuing our biannual look at U.S.-made goods
A record player
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Emeco chairs in use at Mitchell’s Ice Cream in Cleveland.

I have a burgundy Hershey Bears sweatshirt that I was wearing the morning my son was born more than 15 years ago; for that reason, it’s a must-keep part of my wardrobe, albeit as my Official Painting Sweatshirt.

Sweatshirts are cool, especially if they’re not made in off-shore sweatshops, which is where too much textile manufacturing has migrated in recent decades.

Most of San Francisco-based American Giant‘s production takes place in North Carolina. The company makes sweatshirts, T-shirts and bottoms, offering a limited product array to control inventory costs.

“Sweatshirts were iconically American,” American Giant CEO Bayard Winthrop told Fast Company magazine, “and had been left to go to shit.”

That’s true for a lot of U.S. consumer products, which is why in recent years I have used this blog to showcase companies such as American Giant that are committed to domestic manufacturing.

So this Fourth of July, light your Ohio-made Diamond Sparklers with a Pennsylvania-made Zippo lighter and celebrate these other companies and products that are Made in the USA.


When I was in high school, my mother bought me a burgundy sports coat that I wore for my senior portrait and a family picture. I looked like a baseball umpire of the era. We got it at Anderson-Little, which had a store at the Lewiston Mall in Maine.

Anderson-Little’s brick-and-mortar days ended in 1998. But two descendants of the founding Anderson family offer a classic American-made blue blazer.

“I would not restart Anderson-Little unless we manufactured in America,” Scott Anderson says on the company’s website. “Period. It is an American brand.”


312 Royal Blue Thumbnail Template Front 2

The 312 Royal Blue Boardshort

I joked to my family a few years back that if I owned a store selling pants, I’d give it a hip name: What ‘Up, Britches?

Surf’s up with Birdwell Beach Britches, which is anything but a startup, having begun in 1961. Carrie Birdwell Mann turned her Southern California home into a sewing room and store that sells swim trunks and surf-related T-shirts, jackets, bags and accessories.


My introduction to Emeco was in 1991, when I was a business reporter for the York Daily Record covering a labor dispute at the company’s plant in Hanover, York County. I reported that the company was on the verge of losing money for its ninth straight year.

I never anticipated that the Buchbinder family — owners then as now — would team up with hip designers such as Philippe Starck to reinvigorate the often imitated, never duplicated Emeco brand.

Emeco’s signature piece is the 1006 Navy chair, which dates to 1944 and was designed to be nonflammable, nonmagnetic and durable on board Navy ships. The 1006 is made from recycled aluminum and goes through a process called thermal hardening that makes it lightweight but six times stronger than steel, according to the company.

In 2009, my wife and I bought three Emeco 24-inch aluminum stools for our kitchen island. They came with a 150-year guarantee; ask my descendants in the year 2159 how the stools held up.


Essential Outdoor Blanket

Essential Outdoor Blanket

If your son or daughter plays youth sports, at some point you’re going to need a really good blanket. After all, parents-as-spectators need their own equipment, whether for softening a hard bleacher or bundling against frigid temperatures.

Mambe blankets, made in Fall City, Wash., are waterproof and windproof and are available for outdoor and indoor use. All are guaranteed for life.



For this pennant, Oxford collaborated with wildcardpgh.com.

What better way to wave the flag in support of American manufacturing than with vintage wool and cotton pennants inspired by American sports traditions?

That’s what Buffalo, N.Y.-based Oxford has done, with pennants featuring city names; words (“Hustle,” for instance, and “Live Free or Die”); and images (one called “Brave the Woods” shows a mushroom, pinecone, acorn and leaves).


It doesn’t get any more authentic than a tote bag made from a recycled sail that is designed and sewn on the working waterfront of Portland, Maine.

The sails are collected one at a time through a network of boaters. No part of Sea Bags’ totes and accessories is imported: The company’s vendors include the last U.S. thread manufacturer and the only rope manufacturer in New England.



The Orbit Plus Turntable

In summer 1987, between my sophomore and junior years of college, I lived with my sister and brother-in-law in Reading, Mass. I made a few pilgrimages to the Lechmere store in nearby Woburn to get my music fix, buying cassette tapes by the likes of the Mighty Lemon Drops.

Approximately four miles from where Lechmere was, U-Turn Audio now makes really cool turntables. The three company founders, all born in 1988, shared their story in this Boston Globe article.

If there’s anything better than a vinyl record, then it has to be one played on an American-made turntable.



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