It’s not just election campaigns stirring up feelings of national pride and support for domestic manufacturing, there is an emphasis in many areas affecting consumers regarding the benefits of shopping locally, eating organically, community & urban gardening, and paying a little bit more in order to enjoy farm-to-table cuisine.
When it comes to home décor purchases, leading merchandising and sales experts report that customers want to hear a “story” about the products they are considering — only if it’s true, of course! For example, relaying that the wood is sustainably harvested (or salvaged) in the Pacific Northwest, or that the glass is hand-blown in California, or the pottery hand-thrown in New England instills a sense of pride in owning something that was made by hand right here where we live in North America. Personally speaking, I enjoy shopping for jewelry at local craft fairs and meeting the artists who made each piece individually. Are these products more expensive? A little bit, but not outrageously so. I like that the pieces don’t look like something easily found at the nearest mall, or even on Amazon.
I’ve been on both sides of the conversation that sounds like, “Oh is that from Pottery Barn/Restoration Hardware/Target, etc.? I saw that when I was in there and it’s great!” Such a declaration can be taken a few ways. On one hand, our friend is enthusiastically approving of our choice. On the other, we’re wondering if everyone else has it in their house, too.
Do we need bread-and-butter pieces that are price-driven and, most likely, imported? Yes, of course. We all economize where we can. However, consider a partnership with an artist or smaller company that doesn’t sell in mass quantities to everyone. It will provide your store – and your customers – with unique designs and establishes your business as a resource for unusual and beautiful items.
In our annual Made in America issue, you’ll find the names of companies that are familiar; and, conversely, discover new ones you hadn’t heard of yet. The good news is that there are so many of these smaller, domestic manufacturers emerging all over the U.S. – many of whom do a steady business in high-end custom or hospitality work. These small businesses are often so busy (they don’t have the time to publicize what they do) that you might not know of them except for word of mouth. If you’d like to learn of more domestic sources in a specific category, shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to help you.