Made in the USA - or is it?"With the ambiguity of FTC regulations, not all products from larger retailers are 100-percent USA-made."
By: Beth Koralia, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
It is becoming ever more difficult to find products manufactured in the United States. For discerning buyers, the task of finding USA-made furniture can be difficult, but not impossible, if you know where to look.
According to Nancy Fink of Anderson Furniture in Duluth, most upholstered furniture is made in the U.S., but items such as entertainment centers and shelving are not.
What does “Made in the USA” really mean, exactly? The Federal Trade Commission establishes that in order for a product to be labeled “USA-made”, it must be comprised of “all or virtually all” American products, with the final assembly and processing in the U.S.
However, the “USA-made” label is regulated only for automobiles, textiles, wool, and fur. Labeling other products is not enforced, but companies are expected to abide by the USA-made rules set by the FTC.
But with the ambiguity of FTC regulations, not all products from larger retailers are 100-percent USA-made.
La-Z-Boy, for example, states on its website that its products are not completely American-made: “Recent developments, such as the closing of major textile plants in the U.S., have forced us to go overseas for products like fabrics and leathers that are no longer available here in mass quantities.”
Ashley Furniture, headquartered in Arcadia, Wis., manufactures and assembles some of its own furniture: “Ashley manufactures its own products in the United States and also purchases components and products from other countries. Our intention is to give you the best value for your hard-earned money; therefore, we offer both domestic-made and imported items to fit a variety of decorating needs and budgets.”
Other companies, such as Charles Schneider from Iowa, manufacture their own materials for their products. Charles Schneider has a separate facility in Iowa where it makes the foam padding for its couches.
Other companies that manufacture furniture products in the U.S. are Leick (Wisc.), Smith Brothers, Southern Motion, and Thornwood. These name-brands can be found in shops in Duluth.
American-made products are not usually the first thing buyers want when selecting furniture, “but they have come,” added Fink. “We do the best we can to (stock) American-made. We try to have nice quality products and be fair (in prices) to the customer.”
Billie Rivera, a customer, said a USA-made product wasn’t really her main consideration when buying furniture, but it was a factor in her decision.
“It’s about buying from and supporting your nation” and local retailers, she said.
Fink explained that once buyers see the price of USA-made products they are often discouraged by the higher prices.
Local craftsmen, such as Grey Doffin, believe seeking out custom-builders is the best option for finding American-made furniture. Doffin says his customers come for a variety of reasons: some are looking for a piece to fit a specific space, while others are not pleased with the quality of mass-produced furniture. But these custom pieces come at a high cost.
Not all American-made furniture is more expensive. The Amish Furniture Haus offers exceptionally crafted pieces at prices comparable to those for imported furniture. Customers do not have to compromise on style either. Amish furniture is trendy as well as traditional.
Another option for USA-made furniture is artistic pieces created from recycled items. Local retailers are now offering furniture made from reclaimed materials. Saw-Mill sells reclaimed wood furniture created by Ingvald’s Custom Builds out of Alborn, MN. JS Unique (formerly Original Furniture Company) in Two Harbors creates tables and benches in-house, out of barns and other abandoned buildings.
Buyers should do their research before purchasing furniture labeled “Made in the USA” and shop around for the best prices and items that suit their needs.