We met Steven and Allison at our first Harrisburg Flea, on the frigid first Saturday of January 2018.
When I saw the Harrisburg couple again in March, Steven excitedly said to me, "Hey, look what I'm wearing," drawing attention to his Chicago-made Dearborn Denim jeans.
It wasn't quite "Miracle on 34th Street" with the Macy's Santa sending customers to rival Gimbels, but I won't hesitate to steer Stay customers to other U.S.-made brands that I hold in high regard.
Sell the world a Stay tee
I've always been fond of U.S.-made products, having grown up in Maine when almost everything L.L. Bean sold was domestically produced. Unsurprising, starting Stay and sourcing our products, whether from Pennsylvania or Indiana, California or Cleveland, has reignited that passion in me.
To be sure, I have a vested interest in the Made in America movement. I would love to sell the world a Stay tee.
But I also believe that a movement has to be bigger than a few brands. So I try to recommend U.S.-made brands to customers who seem so inclined. When consumers know about U.S.-made options, they just might consider and even purchase them.
American-made products can be more expensive than their imported counterparts, but not always and sometimes with good reason: namely, they're built to last longer.
Most people just want a good product and a good value, regardless of country of origin. They're not wrong for doing that, but maybe they just haven't thought through the implications of relying too heavily on imports.
Even in this information age, there's great value in making physical goods. It's good for jobs and wages, which is good for communities. It's good for civic pride to be known for a product, right Hershey?
It's good for the environment to source things nearer to where they are consumed. I'll go so far as to say that it's good for national security, because societies that can make things for themselves are less vulnerable to external events.
Since launching Stay in October 2017, we've been on the pop-up circuit: Harrisburg Flea, York Flea, Creatively Lancaster and, all summer 2018, Market on Chocolate. I never cease to be impressed by the talents and products on display from local makers.
The vendors you find at makers markets are the antidote to the utilitarian, experience-less state of most retail in America, akin to what local and regional craft brewers have done to revitalize a homogenized, stagnant national beer industry.
And even though the likes of American Giant and Dearborn Denim are far bigger than pop-up vendors, they share the same ethos. They love what they do, they engage with customers, and they make great products in America.
If you want to explore some of our favorite Made in USA brands for yourself, you can look at who we follow on Instagram.
Or come talk with us at a pop-up event near you, just like Steven and Allison.