Craftsmen Provide Quality and Local Trade

| 4/2/2014 4:00:00 PM

Tags: buy local, Made in America, Missouri, Linda Holliday,

This winter, I broke a snow shovel, feather duster, leaf rake and stainless steel measuring cup. Not since childhood have I been violent with my tools. In fact, I treat them with the utmost respect. So, I had to ask, what is going on here?

China tag

Admittedly, we had some bizarre snowfall this year, sort of a snow cone/slushy mixture. However, the hard plastic shovel was not inexpensive or very old. In my opinion, it should not have cracked and split so easily. I never broke a shovel as a Wisconsin youngster, even when using them as sleds in the cow pasture, sometimes standing on them like downhill surfboards barreling over frozen cow patties and rocks.

The plastic feather duster handle broke away about an inch at a time. All I have left now is the cluster of feathers. The wooden rake handle, just three years old, snapped in half during ordinary use. And, the spot weld gave way on the measuring cup handle while scooping oatmeal. These are just a few examples of the poor quality we now accept as normal.

A popular commercial slogan when I was growing up in the 1960s was Zenith’s “quality goes in before the name goes on.” Incidentally, we had only one TV all the years of my childhood, a tubeless black-and-white Zenith.

Back then, we took for granted that first-rate products always would be made in the United States, and only cheap articles came from overseas.

4/24/2014 8:28:55 PM

I agree with you, even AlexM, that quality is products is lacking in many areas. Alex is right, cheap is cheap, no matter where made. The problem didn't happen because manufacturing moved offshore, it happened when manufacturers put profit above all else, including quality. There was a time when Made in America meant something and there was also a time when retail giants like Sears, Lowes, etc ONLY sold quality merchandise no matter where it came from. In fact Sears for many years had things made with their name on it and it meant quality if it said Craftsman, but not since corporate world put profit above quality, name, reputation, etc. I support local craftsman when I came, I am one, but local or chinese, make it quick as cheaply as possible and you'll turn out junk.

4/24/2014 1:27:12 AM

I've started buying more and more at garage sales and used stores. Tools, especially, seem to last longer if I buy ones that are already 10 or 15 years old and made in America. This is what giving America a chance is all about. Please check out and/or

4/23/2014 11:07:11 AM

Very good article. Bless the craftsmen and the real farmers because when it goes to hell in a hand basket they will be the ones to put us back together.

4/23/2014 8:49:20 AM

I've been doing tons of reading about food politics and have a more localized view for your consumption. This is a wonderful article and I've got you both on my list of places to shop with to help support the local movement. Thanks Linda!

4/23/2014 8:00:04 AM

OK, you know what? I'm tired of this drivel. Yes, there's a lot of junk on the market, but it's not because manufacturing went to Mexico, China, or India. While a lot of my tools are pre-WW2 vintage, essentially all the rest are stamped "Made in China." And you know what? They'll last just as long as the ones I bought that are antiques, and longer than most of the ones I bought that are made in the USA. I have exactly one set of good tools that are made in the US, a set of combination squares. Those I bought at Home Depot for about $15 each, and they're fantastic. On the other hand, I have some US made screwdrivers that started breaking down almost as soon as I bought them, and some chisels that are the most uncomfortable chisels I've ever used. The last US made handsaw I bought was so bad I threw it out after using it once: the teeth were poorly set and sharpened, and they were impulse hardened so I couldn't fix them, and the handle was attached at an angle and couldn't be tightened enough to stop it from wiggling. On the "Made in China" front, I have an excellent Ryoba, some fantastic wood-handled chisels, a handsaw that's great for carpentry work (it's a rough-cut saw, so it was never designed for anything else), a cordless impact driver that I expect to outlast me, a pair of circular saws that will probably run until the brushes are worn to nothing, and then keep running after I replace the brushes... I could keep going, but I won't. The problem isn't where the products are made. The problem is what you're buying. That China-made ryoba cost more than an American made equivalent. Same for the chisels, at least until you get up the line to things like Lie-Nielsen. Yeah, if you buy from Target you're going to get cheap junk, and most of it will be made in China. Go to a high-end store and you're going to get high quality goods. And you know what? Most of those are made in China, too. Don't get me wrong: I'd rather buy American made where I reasonably can, purely for the sake of keeping money in our economy. But I'm not foolish enough to believe that American made is automatically good, because it's not. And Chinese made isn't automatically a bad thing, because it's not. Cheap is cheap, no matter where it's made.

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