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Would You Pay More for an American Made Good?

I was watching one of my favorite shows last week, Shark Tank, and there was a particular story that got me thinking.  According to ABC Donny McCall,

designed the patented made-in-America Invis-A-Rack, the most innovative cargo management system for pick-up trucks ever developed. This collapsible truck track can be unfolded in seconds to carry everything from kayaks, to ladders, to lumber. Since starting his business last September, Donny has grossed over $40,000 with no marketing, and Donny knows that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Fresh off his win for Best New Product of the Year for 2010 from Popular Mechanics, Donny and Invis-A-Rack are primed for their next move.

If you haven’t watched the show, what occurs is that the entrepreneur tries to get “the sharks” who are very wealthy investors to take a look at their product and go into business with them.  The sharks would not deal with Donny because he wanted to keep all production in America and they thought it would just be too costly to make and thus result in slimmer margins.

Right about now you are probably thinking things like “Go America” and “The Sharks are dicks” and that is easy to say but ask yourself this question:

  • If you had two competing products next to each other on the shelf all things about the products are equal but one had a stamp that said Made in America would you pay more?

How much more? Is it is a whole number that would get you? or is it a percentage?

It is easy to just blurt out Yes, but if I had 2 toys and one had made in America on it but was $22 more than the Chinese version I don’t think I could pull the trigger that easily.  If the cost was another $2 or 3 bucks I might be able to.  What if the item was only $1 and the American version was $2? That is 100% difference but it is only a buck?

Thoughts? Would you pay more for a “certified” stamp that said Made in America?



  1. Shark Tank is awesome. But I think Dragon’s Den is slightly better in my opinion. Depending on how expensive the item is and the brand behind it I would pay a 20%-30% premium on most goods if it was made in my country, Canada.

    • I never saw Dragon’s Den – is that what the show is based on? 20-30%?! What if the product was 100 vs 130?

  2. I think this is a great topic for discussion. With savings rates so low, no wage growth, increasing costs of living, and a massive federal deficit as well as negative trade gap…it’s hard to justify paying more for anything. But, I’m an advocate for buying locally and mad in USA wherever possible. Toys are a good example. I have more confidence that US manufacturers are applying safe materials that I’m happy for my kids to be exposed to. I am less confident that Chinese (for example) authorities hold their toy makers to the same high standards. I’m relieved that my kids are getting a little older so I can focus more on the qualty of the gift rather than quantity and low price. I prefer American bike parts and just order a $200 front rack for my bike, made in Eugene Oregon. I could buy a while bike for that much money, but I know the quality of my rack will be 1st class.

  3. Great question, i’d really have to think about this for a while. Im assuming that if the difference wasnt too high, I’d probably go for the american one, but like slug says, I buy quality. I’m after something that’s not going to crap out and piss me off in 3 weeks, no matter who made it.

    • Looking around my house I feel like for most things I purchase I don’t even get the choice to buy quality and USA.

  4. That’s a tough one. I think it would depend on what the item was and how much difference we’re talking about (what a cop out answer!). There is a lot to be said for supporting American made products but it’s hard to say for sure.

    For example, I will never own an American car again. After owning 2 Japanese cars (actually made in Japan, not Toyotas assembled here or something) and 2 American cars, I am convinced that foreign is the way to go.

    When it comes to other products, I pick and choose depending on what works best or lasts longer. If we consistently made the best products here at comparable prices, I wouldn’t even have to think about it. But since items made elsewhere are generally cheaper AND better, I doubt that very many of the things in my home were American made. I have a hard time being patriotic when my wallet is involved.

    • I don’t think that is a cop out answer…its a tough question that takes into account not just percentage but whole dollars

  5. Depends on the product. Pet supplies and things I KNOW are safer made here I buy regardless (because of the pet food scare a couple years back). Toys, most of them maybe get from China, only because no one expects toys to last long. Clothing for the same reason. Cars, I go American, only because I remember GM going under.

    It honestly depends on the need and the product.

    • I think that is a really well thought answer that makes a ton of sense although I have never bought an American car.

    • See that right there is the difference between you and I. I see the show as a chance for someone to take their dream to another level but there is no guarantee it work out since we don’t live in communist Russia.

      Notwithstanding the above I do love when people’s ridiculous thoughts get brought down to reality like when you have someone who is TERRIBLE get shot down on American Idol.

      • Exactly. Evil. You enjoy seeing people whose ideas YOU think are ridiculous (and a few losers who get their kicks being mean and shooting people down) get treated like crap.

        I like seeing rich assholes get taken down. Is there a show for that?

  6. Wow. I wish I had a really good answer for this, but I don’t. I can talk a good talk on wanting to buy American, but I will honestly say that I rarely pay a whole lot of attention. However, I finally tried a Yueng-ling beer for the first time, and when I found out that it was made by America’s oldest brewing company, well I think I became a customer for life! 🙂

  7. I have Chinese relatives who gave me ONE hard-and-fast, never-to-be-broken rule for shopping: Do not buy anything that was made in China, not consumer goods and definitely not food. I’ve found it a good rule.

    While I’m not very consumerist (I wouldn’t ever need an Invis-a-rack), I almost always buy Canadian if given the option, and sometimes I will pay considerably more, depending on the quality.

  8. I like to buy quality and I think there are some things of better quality built overseas. However I am also for limiting my carbon footprint and buying local so if I could get a decent item without going overseas I would.

  9. Yes, I will pay more. I can remember when “Made In America” was what we all looked for. It meant it was well made, employed Americans, (our friends and neighbors) and supported our country. What has happened to us? We turn the other way and wonder why our country is in the mess it is in… yourselves, your jobs, your country, and maybe we can get more of us back to work.

  10. I am for buying the better product, regardless of where it is made. That said, I do care about respect for human rights and dignity. I believe that foreigners are no less “deserving” of employment, but I would feel differently about a place that literally imprisoned its employees, making the products the product of slave labour. Of course, the worse the employee gets treated the crappier the product, so this sort of thing also backfires down the road.

  11. God bless America, and no one else, but I wouldn’t pay a cent extra for a product just because it was made in the U.S.A. That extra penny would have to be justifiable in terms of quality or speediness of delivery or something. Of all the Americans I love, there is no other that I love more than myself. I look out for me first. That’s the American way.

  12. Interestingly enough, that show is barely “Made in America.” Kevin O’leary is a Canadian, and helped put together the show “Dragons Den” up in Canuck Land and then piggybacked Shark Tank on that model.


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