In the last few months, our lives have changed more than I ever thought possible. The Coronavirus pandemic has transformed just about everything⸺the way we work, interact with each other, travel. It’s even impacted the way we shop.
When it’s time to go to the store, there’s a new shopping protocol. As the “official shopper” in my household, my experience looks something like this: I wear the homemade mask my wife sewed for me. I follow the “one-way isle” rules, going in one door and out another. I clean my cart as if I owned it. I practice social distancing while inside the store.
But there’s another key part of how I shop--I read product labels to find out where it’s been made.
As we’ve navigated through this pandemic, it’s become even more clear just how heavily we rely on Chinese-made products. Importing large quantities of cheap home products, fabrics, N95 and surgical masks, cleaning products, and many other things because of their low costs has left us in a bad position.
Americans have become accustomed to low prices and comfortable with buying disposable commodities
The desire to pay the lowest prices is what pushes many of us to buy Chinese-made products.
Everyday, people buy certain products simply because it was the cheapest option. We decide that quality doesn’t matter or the cheap alternative is just as good as the original so we can save a few bucks. Unfortunately, there’s a catch when we buy cheap alternatives. You usually get what you pay for. It can be a toss up just how long the cheap alternative will last or how well it will even work.
This is especially true in the office furniture industry. People are purchasing desks, ergonomic products, chairs, and other office products based on what will cost the least amount of money.
I’ve been a U.S. based, office furniture manufacturer for 30+ years. Over those years, I’ve seen more and more furniture brands importing standing desk bases from China. That’s how they’re able to offer such low prices. But again, low prices and high quality don’t often go hand-in-hand.
Support U.S. businesses & buy American-made products
As buyers, we can’t just think about price anymore. The Coronavirus pandemic has changed that.
We have to consider supply chains--who’s making the products, how they’re being made, how buyers get them. Shifting those supply chains to U.S. based companies means we can better provide for our communities when crazy things happen, like a global pandemic. It puts us back in control, rather than relying on other countries, like China, to supply us with essential products.
My company, RightAngle Products, manufactures all types of office furniture products, including standing desks. My goal is to work with U.S. suppliers as much as I can. We first look locally in the city of Schofield where our factory is located, followed by looking within the state of Wisconsin. Then, we locate domestic suppliers located in other parts of the U.S.
We understand that it’s a global economy, and not everything can be sourced in the U.S. There are some components that we import from other countries. When we do choose global suppliers, I personally go to the factories that are making the products being imported, make sure it meets our quality standard, and make sure they have good trade relations with the United States.
I’m not suggesting that people should stop buying or sourcing all products from China. That’s unrealistic.
What I am saying is that we can make more of an effort to buy American-made products, helping to bring more jobs back to the U.S. and support countless local businesses. This helps the U.S. become more self-sufficient, boosts the American economy, and gives us more control in times of crisis.
So, let’s support U.S. made products and companies. Let’s eat at our local restaurants and buy from local farmers. Let’s travel to the beautiful and fun places right here in the states. We can work together to strengthen and take care of our local communities.