Its something many people aspire to buying as many things as possible that are made in America. Easier said than done. But some Wichitans take the extra time and effort and money to actually do it.
I think the problem is most people go to the store and ... first look at the price. If its cheap and its what they want, they buy it. I look at where its made, said Wichitan David Gittrich, who buys nothing made in China and as much as he can that is made in the USA.
And it usually costs more. Im ready for that. I dont mind. I ... think people ought to be supporting America.
Consumer Reports reported last year that a survey by its National Research Center found that given a choice between a product made in the United States and an identical one made abroad, 78 percent of Americans would rather buy the American product, and more than 60 percent would pay more for clothing and appliances made in America.
The reasons the Wichitans give for buying American involve the American economy, the quality of the products, human rights and health.
When Todd and LuAnne Duhnke had a new house built in Wichita five years ago, they wanted it to be like the Frank Lloyd Wright-style houses theyd grown up around in Wisconsin and Minnesota. So they wanted some authentic products made in that region. But they wanted something more.
We made it clear from the get-go that we didnt want anything made in China and we wanted as much as we practically could that was made in the United States, LuAnne Duhnke said. We just did a lot of research, combing specialty-house magazines they picked up at Barnes & Noble.
It cost a little more in the long run, but I think the quality is better, and its keeping our people in the U.S. employed.
Gittrich said he finds it fascinating that many people who are working in the United States as workers or laborers in the unions, they go to the store and buy things make in China, then wonder why theyre losing their jobs.
Ben Blankley, who works at Spirit AeroSystems designing and making durable goods, is not one of them.
I work in U.S. manufacturing, so Blankley said he supports it by shopping American-made.
When he recently went shopping for jumper cables at a hardware store, for example, he found that the cheap jumper cables were all made overseas, but the premium cables, the ones that would last, are still made stateside. This tends to be the case with a lot of consumer products.
Other American-made products that Blankley has particularly noted: pots and pans, vacuums, faucets, flashlights, Vornado fans, laundry baskets, mens formal wear, skateboards.
The Duhnkes buy American to support jobs in this country, but also because they say China doesnt trade fairly. The latest unfair-trade claims made by the United States against China came last week when the United States charged five Chinese military officers and accused them of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to steal trade secrets.
And there are health issues with some foreign-made products as well, Todd Duhnke said. For example, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has found some drywall from China to be toxic. Absolutely no product from China is acceptable in such a category of goods, Duhnke said.
Much of the Duhnkes furniture is American-made Stickley; Traditions is a local retailer that carries the line. One thing the Duhnkes could not find for their new house: an outdoor motion light that was not made in China.
Gittrich gave some practical advice for buying American.
First of all I dont buy anything in a hurry. I dont have to have anything right away. So I make myself a continuing list of things I like to have. As I go shopping, I look for things.
Gittrich will shop online but not buy online. Recently, for example, he wanted to buy a popcorn popper. He found an American-made one online, but he went to Williams Hardware to buy it.
Its usually not hard to find the country of origin labeled on products, he said, but sometimes hes had to open a package, or an employee has had to hunt down the box that a product came in to find the source.
Gittrich will buy things made in Vietnam or the Philippines or Mexico if he cant find them American-made. But nothing made in China.
When you have forced labor in China, Im not going to participate in that, Gittrich said.
When shopping for lightbulbs, after searching in a lot of stores, he found some made in Honduras at Dillons.
Some items if I cant find them made in American or a country other than China, Ill go to an estate sale or second-hand store, Gittrich said. He recalls having a great time a few years ago in a hardware store in Chapman where he found lots of stuff made in the United States. He stocked up because I know theyre going to be replaced by things made in China. Whenever Im in a small town, Ill look in their stores.