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Noted: Can Local Manufacturing Make a Difference?

Apr 7, 2011

by Linzee McCray

Last week I went to a sock factory. The interwoven maneuverings of a factory floor always make me feel as though I’m in the midst of some muscular, over-sized game of Mousetrap. Hundreds of knitting machines, each programmed to use just the right amount of yarn, at just the right time, created sock after sock. Completed socks were sucked into pneumatic tubes, transported overhead, and dropped into bins for inspection and sorting. Workers machine-stitched the socks’ toes and each pair was washed, dried, ironed (yup, they iron your socks!), folded, labeled, and stacked in the warehouse, ready for shipping. The entire process was a carefully choreographed ballet, pairing workers and machines in constant motion. I am in awe at the way socks are made.

And though I’m no economist, I can recognize that one of the ongoing concerns about U.S. economic woes is the loss of manufacturing jobs like the ones at the sock mill. Twenty years ago there were about 400 similarly sized mills in the U.S. Today there are 100. America’s desire for cheap goods, along with expanding markets in other countries, has driven a lot of manufacturing overseas. Some argue that the abundance of safety and environmental regulations and the high cost of health care and pensions make it impossible for America to compete on a global scale, and that manufacturing will never return to the U.S.


Photos by Hither and Thither

Hudson Whisky, made in small batches in the Hudson Valley since Prohibition’s end.

But Allison Arieff, a design and architecture writer, thinks otherwise. In a recent blog post in The New York Times Opinionator blog, Arieff writes that it may be time to shift our gaze from manufacturing as we know it — from the “monolithic, single-industry model” that’s produced cars, steel, and lumber — to something more “nimble and diversified.” That something is local manufacturing.

Taking advantage of the current interest in all things local, organizations SFMade and Made in N.Y.C. encourage manufacturers to capitalize on their region’s unique geography and culture as a way of differentiating their products. Arieff compares this to the way terroir imbues food and wine with geographically unique characteristics and believes that, while NY and San Francisco have a certain regional cachet, small manufacturers in other locales also could benefit from emphasizing these local connections.

Not everyone agrees with Arieff that local manufacturing can make a substantial difference— while most comments on the post are positive, some commenters call her naïve and suggest that local manufacturing can’t effect change on the large scale that’s needed now, when so many Americans are out of work.

What do you think? Are we ready to change our patterns of consumption, to pay a bit more for goods that are made in particular regions of the United States? Can small-scale manufacturing compete in today’s big-box world?

More Noted Posts


  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Great post!!!

  • Earleyimages

    Earleyimages said 6 years ago

    Love this

  • TheBloomingThread

    TheBloomingThread said 6 years ago

    "encourage manufacturers to capitalize on their region’s unique geography and culture as a way of differentiating their products" AWESOME!! love how many small business are able to really captialize on this!

  • BlueDoorStyle

    BlueDoorStyle said 6 years ago

    It is good to make us think. Until we put new concepts into practice they are just notional ideas without measurments of success. Everybody agrees it is time for change, change may come on many fronts so it is time to be open-minded and dive in. We may be surprised where it leads.

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss said 6 years ago

    Rather than "small-scale" production, I think of it as "human-scale."

  • Hipaloo

    Hipaloo said 6 years ago

    Well, they said "organic" would never catch on or be sustainable. Economics is based on demand and though price is a factor, so is quality.

  • jilldrapermakesstuff

    jilldrapermakesstuff said 6 years ago

    I live near Tuthilltown Spirits (the Hudson Whiskey makers) and they are fabulous!

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 6 years ago

    Well written article and very timely. I am a senior buyer for a mid size manufacturer in CT (in addition to running my Etsy shop, that is). This is a topic near and dear to my heart. People may view me as being as naive as Allison Arieff, and maybe I am a bit biased, but I believe that manufacturing will come back to America. Perhaps not on the large scale it once was, but I truly believe that in order to have more control over ingredients/components as well as support our economy, we must get back to producing items (be it food, textiles, electronics and more) locally. It is a very complex issue, of course, but we had the ability to make things with pride once...we can do it again.

  • Norkki

    Norkki said 6 years ago

    I do think it is time for industry to come back, our country deserves it! My father has owned an industrial machine shop for around 50 years. These last years in his older age have been the hardest he has ever faced. He had to lay off employees for the first time since starting his business several years ago, which made him so sad, he loves supporting the people of his community. I hope that the day will come for Americans, who have been out of work, to stand up proud and be able to support their families again. We all deserve better.

  • vKnit

    vKnit said 6 years ago

    Great post!

  • silversamba

    silversamba said 6 years ago

    thanks for the thought provoking read

  • SimpleAspen

    SimpleAspen said 6 years ago

    It creates a much more accountable system on a small scale model as well. When you are selling locally and looking people in the eye, you need to have a good product. When you don't have a good product or if you produce is tainted with salmonella, everyone knows where it came from.

  • GloryBDesign

    GloryBDesign said 6 years ago

    I would much rather purchase from "human scale" producers and local sellers whenever possible. It's one of the reasons I was first drawn to Etsy as a buyer, before I opened my own shop. This is especially true when it comes to items like fruits, veggies, milk, eggs and meats. Knowing how those items are produced and having a relationship with the producer provides both peace of mind and a sense of pride that I'm doing the right thing for my family and our community.

  • bodicegoddess

    bodicegoddess said 6 years ago

    Great post. It's something we think about a lot here in Minnesota. In fact, there's a restaurant - Heartland - that changes its menu on a regular basis depending on what the chefs are able to source locally. They also run an in-house marketplace where you can pick up ingredients like fresh cornish game hens or ground cherries.

  • princessdoodlebeans

    princessdoodlebeans said 6 years ago

    I Absolutely am all for paying a bit more for something my fellow Americans are putting their hard work, skill, and love into!! <3 keep up that local love, people!!

  • weatheredsilo

    weatheredsilo said 6 years ago

    Excellent post! I hope we're ready to change our patterns of consumption. I'm trying to teach my daughters the value of living sustainably, and as such, we support local businesses and artisans whenever possible. I'm a big fan of John Seymour who advocates and educates about communities of artisans and craftsmen who depended on each other (see Thanks for the article!

  • lovinganvil

    lovinganvil said 6 years ago

    oh man i have so much to say about this! we didn't get a big account from a particular usa retailer due to our use of cottage industry and local labor for textile work. they thought it impossible that we could be competitive unless we took our stitching to china. yet we were poised to employ an army of rural maine and new hampshire woman that so very much needed ANY good work. it was really eye-opening and disheartening. glad we stuck to our guns, tho. and so grateful to/for etsy -- without this storefront it would be SO much harder to stay true to our vision. i had been planning a blogpost/rant about this subject for some time now. thank you so much for this article!! xoxo


    SISTERBATIK said 6 years ago

    Here! Here! Similarities with the UK too - which I blogged about in February following the downgrading of growth in our own economy and the comparison with our European neighbour's Germany - which have managed to show growth and the fact that they never gave up on local, owner-managed companies - it only adds to their cache and prestige in what they produce! I don't think this approach is niave. Thank you for writing about this here!

  • JasmineLund

    JasmineLund said 6 years ago

    Soon, as the price of gas continues to go up, the price of centrally manufactured goods - the cheap stuff we all buy at Walmart - will go up too, making it comparable to purchase locally, to support smaller businesses, to build community, and link together the local business with the local family.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article and thought provoking!

  • CarryTheWord

    CarryTheWord said 6 years ago

    Great article! Love the idea of small local manufacturing, and I do think it's possible.

  • vintagemaison

    vintagemaison said 6 years ago

    I live in the area of France where there once was a lot of outworking ie hand painting for Limoges porcelain, and farm workers made gloves or slippers in the winter when they couldn't work the fields. Now, of course thanks to big, cheap chain stores, cheap foreign imported textiles etc, many of the porcelain works and small workshops have long since gone. I also think governments ought to address the issue - after all, most of their policies in the last 30 years had such an influence in closing down industry and the swing towards the service society.

  • smallworldgallery

    smallworldgallery said 6 years ago

    Great article.

  • nanalove621

    nanalove621 said 6 years ago

    I would rather pay a little bit more for products made in the good ole USA. We should support American Made!!, then people could get off wel-fare, food stamps and medicaide.

  • frommylifetoyours

    frommylifetoyours said 6 years ago

    I WOULD !!!!!!!!

  • fiveburros

    fiveburros said 6 years ago


  • Eridanea

    Eridanea said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article!

  • FairyBubbles

    FairyBubbles said 6 years ago

    Love this post:) Personally I think not only can it be done, it needs to be done. However, it will take the whole community to make this kind of change. I think the time is coming, as a country we cannot continue on the way we have been, we need to get back to basics, we've done it before, and there is absolutely no reason why it can't and shouldn't be done. Personally I long for the day when I can open a small business in my little town, maybe provide a job or two. I have also dreamed of starting a community farm where fresh produce could be grown by anyone who chooses to join in, providing fresh produce rather than unhealthy boxed food for our local food pantries, which are having to turn people away lately due to lack of food. So the time is right but people will have bann together to enact change.

  • Pinkilicious

    Pinkilicious said 6 years ago

    I hope that people become more aware of their consumption patterns, and switch to buying locally made goods. They may buy fewer goods because of the slightly higher price, but a vibrant local economy where more people have decent paying jobs is ultimately more sustainable!

  • birchbaykay

    birchbaykay said 6 years ago

    A very timely subject warranting discussion! Of course, with the Etsy family it's rather like preaching to the choir. We need to educate our neighbors about the many benefits of eating local and buying local, and supporting our mom and pop establishments. I also write an artisan cheese blog and in talking with smaller scale dairies, creameries and cheese makers, I've learned so much about how supporting our local businesses builds a stronger community and communal economy, tangibly and emotionally. People need to continue the dialog and take action for the greater good. Thanks so much for bringing up this subject!

  • ChrissiesRibbons

    ChrissiesRibbons said 6 years ago

    Fascinating post

  • WriteTheGoodWrite

    WriteTheGoodWrite said 6 years ago

    This is a post about an important subject. Canada has also lost a great deal of manufacturing jobs to overseas. I certainly hope a significant number of new companies can prosper by making quality goods with a distinct local edge. It is certainly challenging to carve out a market for yourself as an artist and/or company when there are so many similar products made overseas for less; not just goods but services too. Best of luck to those who create a business from an idea and lots of hard work!!

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    maggiesraggedyinn said 6 years ago

    I know a man in Maine who runs a small sock factory. His socks are wonderful and I feel so good wearing them. He is also providing jobs to many local people and his way if seeing life is with care and concern for everyone. He reflects a way of lifestyle that me must maintain... hard work.. local manufacturing and good values. I am from Canada and he brings us all some each time he comes to see us. If this is the type of people that run small manufacturing, well we need to get back to this way of homegrown life.

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie said 6 years ago

    The problem with things being "made" elsewhere is twofold. 1. American education has done away with Industrial Arts classes...and few students graduating from high school know how to do or make anything. 2. Incredible fuel waste of all sorts shipping a shirt all over Asia to be made. That's all I'm sayin'...

  • BarnshopAntiques

    BarnshopAntiques said 6 years ago

    My husband and I were just talking about this. We agree and think we will see more people opting for quality local goods in the near future.

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 6 years ago

    @ ThePolkadotMagpie - so very true. We no longer have young people who have been taught to actually make something, vocational shop classes are now replaced with computer programming classes. Now that most manufacturing job, or any job that requires physical labor has been exported, a large segment of the youth all have ambitions to become 'professionals', but the economy does not run on just having doctors lawyers & engineers. And if you don't have the talents to do well in the service industry, then there is no room for you in the current economy.. tragic. A diversified economy for a large nation of diverse skill sets and talents is important. When we export manufacturing jobs, we also export the knowledge of manufacturing overseas, and when that happens, guess who will have control over the majority of innovations in manufacturing.. probably not us.

  • BackwardRevolution

    BackwardRevolution said 6 years ago

    Yes of course it does. It creates job for the people in our own cities. I wish there was more local manufacturing instead of everything being made in China.

  • simplyworn

    simplyworn said 6 years ago

    yes.....I do think we can change things around and start a new branding of made in the u.s.a. and be proud of what that means local farmed goods turned into canned treasures....cheese and yogurt. It doesn't seem that far fetched, but for some reason we've lost touch with what our dollar spent should mean. "you get what you pay for". To read a label that says made from a region near me....I'm in love with the idea that my dollar is going to that farmer...whom I assume is putting the dollar right back into our town. Novel idea...I'm not giving up hope.

  • TheLittleRagamuffin

    TheLittleRagamuffin said 6 years ago

    I think the success of artists on Etsy shows that "small-scale manufacturing can compete in today’s big-box world." Thanks for this encouraging post.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Im always fascinated by those 'how it's made' videos of factories in motion, ther is something very oddly orchestrated about it. As if theres some intelligence behind the machines. I do think manufacturing can play a difference but just look at the high street, all big name retailers shipping in product from abroad. It's not just etsysans who need to appreciate the concept of 'shop local'

  • CrabappleVintage

    CrabappleVintage said 6 years ago

    We are lucky to have moved to an area with access to an extensive local food (and beverage!) system and creative, vibrant handmade culture. I am in sometimes awed to have landed here. It is my sincere hope that walkable downtown centers and local business see a rebirth. I think it makes for a strong community and it certainly makes traveling more fun, too.

  • myart4wear2007

    myart4wear2007 said 6 years ago

    Absolutely, buying local can succeed! We pay more for food by buying from Markets we trust such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and other local Farmer's Markets. We will do the same for everything else if it's a better quality.

  • sizzlestrapz

    sizzlestrapz said 6 years ago

    I would do ANYTHING to have loca manufaturing! Not only the product will be great but I surely think that people will buy home grown stuff...I mean aren't they already on Etsy? So imagine what a big scale manufacturing wuld do to sales!

  • extrafinecreations

    extrafinecreations said 6 years ago

    If everyone would just check labels and buy only "made in USA" or "made in the UK" (for that country), I believe it would make a great difference. Everyone would reap the benefits, including local markets.

  • ByTheBookPaper

    ByTheBookPaper said 6 years ago

    Local maufacturing is certainly important, and a well-made product from a small producer can really make you feel like you have something special. I think we are starting to come around to local products, especially when they are made more readily available, such as at a farmer's market. Something that may hinder the resurgance of local is marketing and getting your product out there.

  • ShannaMicheleDesigns

    ShannaMicheleDesigns said 6 years ago

    I used to work with signage and display design and manufacturing. We tried to work with small businesses as much as possible but our prices had to reflect that...major retailers balked at our prices for sign holders so we outsourced production to boggled my mind to hear that we had shipping containers full of extruded plastic coming across the ocean just to save a few dollars but big retail could care less....they don't care about jobs or community. So glad I found etsy :)

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article. We so desperately need small manufacturing all across the US. We can't all go to college and be zillionaire computer nerds, now can we?

  • KrystalCirca1984

    KrystalCirca1984 said 6 years ago

    I have to agree with Arieff's dissenters - local manufacturers will not make a significant difference - what we need is to bring large scale manufacturing back to America. I also believe that is is inaccurate to say that "America’s desire for cheap goods, along with..." is responsible for the loss of manufacturing - there were many other more important factors such as greed, politics, tax laws and trade agreements which reward companies for taking jobs out of the US. As an employee at one of those big box chains, we are taught that customers do not know what they want until we tell them. And what do we tell them? That nothing worth buying is made in America. We carry nothing US made in clothing or accessories - and very little in the other departments. And locally made? Not on the radar.

  • MagpiesNotions

    MagpiesNotions said 6 years ago

    I prefer products made in the USA and prefer products made in the state I live in even more. When I buy my food I look for local grown and manufactured foods. It seems to me that the quality of goods made in America and food grown in your own state is better than that made in China, Malaysia and others. I am willing to pay more to get local made or American made goods. It is not only good for local economies but also the environment. Less gas = less dependence on foreign oil and less car, truck, and train emissions. I also think it is important for people when they live in a city to try to walk and bike to what is the closest to them to purchase goods. It is bad for the environment and it is bad for your car to make short trips with a lot of stop and go driving. Little changes such as these can spread like ripples in a pond to make a big difference in the long run. And we can change how things are produced and where our food is grown if we all try our best to buy things made in this country (or the country you are in) and grown locally, we can show the stores what is the most popular and what sells the best and push them into selling more of that.

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago


  • djinnyf

    djinnyf said 6 years ago

    "Some argue that the abundance of safety and environmental regulations and the high cost of health care and pensions make it impossible for America to compete on a global scale" More like those "make it impossible" for America to keep making AS MUCH profits.............. Crazy life, hope we'll get it on time.............. xx

  • JonEicher

    JonEicher said 6 years ago

    A very complex subject. But check some facts. The USA is still has the largest manufacturing base in the world. Sorry China. The New York Industrial Index is studied as an economic barometer because of how vast the industrial base is in the New York City region alone. And that is just one regional index. There are many in the U.S.A. There is a lot of propaganda out there about the USA and the west being in decline... Don't believe the hype. The USA is a sleeping giant of capability, attitude and ability. Reinventing ourselves is the American experience.

  • thef3lbs

    thef3lbs said 6 years ago

    The American dream was not founded on working for Wal-Mart, it meant starting your own business from the ground up... and with the way things are it's become all too swallowed up by these watered down, faceless corporations which have no real intrinsic value to the growth of our culture. The small business adds a rich sentiment of friendly, unique salesmanship that leaves you feeling inspired, or at least somewhat warm inside through style with a real human feel. The real question is, have we lost that desire for our imaginations... or would we trade in for getting toilet paper for 2 cents a roll... I'll pay more for the former if you ask me.

  • amaria

    amaria said 6 years ago

    great article!

  • treespiritbydiona

    treespiritbydiona said 6 years ago

    yes, great concept. It is becoming more of a movement all over. Americans want to see their neighbors and community survive and thrive. The best way to do that is to buy locally. The more opportunities to do that the better. Putting it into practice is always the challenge. If successful groups, like SFMade and others, could package their steps for anyone to use to setup local cross-manufacturing 'plants' in any community for a variety of products we would really be on to something tangible!

  • StickmanCliff

    StickmanCliff said 6 years ago

    Great Article ... we need to make more people aware of local manufacturers in the US who can make quality products for our local markets and international markets.

  • thunderpeep

    thunderpeep said 6 years ago

    great article. I definitely think it's up to the people to make manufacturing locally a priority. Make a statement with your buying habits "HouseOfMoss says: Rather than "small-scale" production, I think of it as "human-scale." " well said.....

  • blainedesign

    blainedesign said 6 years ago

    I live in the SF Bay Area, where local agriculture (which "couldn't succeed") is influencing eating around the country. And no, it doesn't have to be more expensive to eat well locally. By shopping well at farmers markets, I can eat for about half of what it would cost in chain markets! Many of the farmers here are expanding to cottage endeavors -- "petit manufacturing" some of them call it -- like comforters filled with lambswool and handmade furniture. I think local small scale manufacturing is ESSENTIAL to local economies and sustainability. Period.

  • hitherandthither

    hitherandthither said 6 years ago

    Great article, and so cool to see our photos! Thank you for the link!

  • goldminetrash

    goldminetrash said 6 years ago

    Supporting our local economies and avoiding sweatshop labor is one of the best things we can do. Not only for ourselves, but for our economy.

  • hodgepodgefarm

    hodgepodgefarm said 6 years ago

    i for one am ready! and slowly, we independent hand-makers are showing the world a new way...

  • DeNovoStyle

    DeNovoStyle said 6 years ago

    Wow - I'm right in the thick of this right now. I'm trying to get my wholesale side going, and my prices are high end for a lot of boutiques. The good news is I have the help of a sales rep in LA and she said "made in the USA" is something stores are after now as a selling point. I found that refreshing!

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 6 years ago

    Cutest whiskey bottles evar!

  • BlueStarrGallery

    BlueStarrGallery said 6 years ago

    I try to purchase locally made, but for some things it's difficult to find, every little bit helps I think.

  • spontaneousreality

    spontaneousreality said 6 years ago

    Kudos to the small scale have my vote all the way! Buy Local People!!! Especially everyday items...a little goes a long way!

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 6 years ago

    Supporting local is like supporting your family. And, once we all support our families and local communities it starts to trickle down.

  • BlkSheepProductions

    BlkSheepProductions said 6 years ago

    YES! Responsible, reasonable, interesting. DIY. Yes.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 6 years ago


  • oldschoolhandwovens

    oldschoolhandwovens said 6 years ago

    I think you need to look at Farmers' Markets and CSAs as an example of the publics desire to buy locally. People want to know where their things come from and prefer to see the face of the person raising/growing or hand making their food, fiber and household goods. Also there are certain populations more inclined toward appreciating hand made and locally grown/manufactured over others who really don't have a preference. Customer service is important for the local business to gain the trust of the buyer accustomed to dealing with larger companies too. Kathryn Old School Handwovens Central NY

  • oldschoolhandwovens

    oldschoolhandwovens said 6 years ago

    Also, local Chambers, towns, villages etc. often have economic development grants available for small local businesses to creat jobs. This would revitalize an areas economy and keep families closer to home rather than having to travel long distances to work - saves on gas too.

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop said 6 years ago

    I am so ready for this sort of change here in America. To me it is a big thrill to hear of someone manufacturing anything here. Americans need to buy American. Great article.

  • HvZjewelry

    HvZjewelry said 6 years ago

    Great article!!!

  • TheFoundry12

    TheFoundry12 said 6 years ago

    A great and timely article. I don't think it's at all naive to think that the way we view and practice manufacturing can change. We as Americans are so used to taking the path of least resistance. As an educator, I see every day students who have been spoon fed the idea that you cannot be a laborer, independent or otherwise, and be successful. Success becomes how much money you can make without really working for it. Pride is replaced by greed. But what is success? Is it having the most toys, or is it being content knowing that the toys you have you earned?

  • dabsh01

    dabsh01 said 6 years ago

    Great Post... I hope everyone out there think the same it's hard... American Economy is very strong, Yes we have outsource every thing we can... Make laws to tighten the grip of the small business with laws and regulations but can easily get away from these by international trade... so my question is where do you turn if continue buy our productd from China...

  • CoquesiaBelle

    CoquesiaBelle said 6 years ago

    There are many abandoned lumber mills all over the Northwestern United States and every time I pass one it just breaks my heart. A huge percentage of my family was put out of work and nearly out on the street when these mills closed their doors... It seems like such a waste for these establishments to still sit empty and unused. No matter how you feel about logging or other manufacturing jobs, these places were once the lifeblood of our country, sustaining many by way of good old fashioned hard work to the lower and middle classes. I think it is great that we have come a long way with technology and providing education, but in some places it just isn't a viable option for some people. Instead of thinking we're better than these jobs and leaving them for immigrants or factories overseas, it would be nice to see a movement to make these jobs safe and lucrative for people here at home who are willing to do what it takes to support themselves and their families.

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 6 years ago

    thanks for the much needed article. i think more people are turning away from industrialized food and goods. that's a good thing. this will definitely decrease our oil consumption as well via a geographical local supply chain (shipping) so in the end, if people feel that costs of goods overseas is cheaper. think about the last few wars fought in the name of oil and recalculate your costs. it really has not been worth it.

  • skiedesign

    skiedesign said 6 years ago

    It is really tough competition out there. For companies to stay competitive they must outsource. I know it is unfortunate- but it is the current reality. Yes I would try to pay more to keep jobs local and bring the US back to where it once was long long ago- on top. I try to buy from small businesses whenever I can- If we can all be a little more conscious of our choices; all of our ripples may make big waves.

  • irishandmore

    irishandmore said 6 years ago

    The movement to "buy local" needs to go beyond this audience, that is mostly already aware of it, and out into the general public! Everyone needs to hear how it benefits them personally, by seeing how it helps the towns they live in. It needs to be something that impacts the EVERYDAY shopper, not just the elite. Would love to hear more on how to spread the word!

  • SilverLoft

    SilverLoft said 6 years ago

    Manufacturing on the human scale replaces price points with pride in workmanship. This, I believe, is ever more important in the long run for the human spirit - both for the maker and the buyer. It leads to social sustainability, not just in a remote part of Thailand, for example (where many of my silver components are hand-crafted), but here in suburbia and the big city. I think Americans are beginning to learn the lesson that big factories don't necessarily make things better. Excellent discussion, Linzee - thanks for starting it!

  • DJReigel

    DJReigel said 6 years ago

    Locally-made makes sense. Now if we can just get some burdonsome government regulations and high taxes off the backs of small manufacturers (at least in my state), we would see the growth of many cottage industries.

  • shopkoolgifts

    shopkoolgifts said 6 years ago

    I worked at a huge brand name textile company for 12 years and it went out of business, then 12 more years at an automotive manufacturer and it shut down locally, Now I work for the fastest growing coffee company in the USA and I love it! They are very community oriented and support many charities and organizations and we get paid to lend a helping hand to them to boot. I love their products and I only work 3 days a week compare to the previously 6-7 days a week. They recycle everything. I support local businesses. I would never pay $4 for a jar of jam in a store but I do now when I buy locally and it's delicious and no extra ingredients, just natural. I will pay extra if I can get high quality, local, clean products. Buy Local, support your community.

  • TheartofCarolyn

    TheartofCarolyn said 6 years ago

    Great article. I agree changes need to be to tax and regulation laws to make it easier for the cottage industry manufacturer to succeed and grow. I believe it would be better for not only local economies but nationally as well.

  • hingedjewelry

    hingedjewelry said 6 years ago

    I live this and everyone else can too...really! It's possible! Fabulous article. Thank you!

  • inediblejewelry

    inediblejewelry said 6 years ago

    There's my perspective (absolutely! More local and handmade!), and then there is the perspective of a huge percentage of the population (make it cheap and easy for me to afford.) For many, buying decisions will always come down to price alone. The question is whether enough people will be convinced to buy local and pay a bit more to support a wholesale shift in the manufacturing economy. In addition, I agree with those above who have mentioned how difficult it can be for a small business to try to expand from one or two people to the point where they're hiring others. I strongly believe in health care for workers, but also recognize that paying for it and social security and unemployment taxes on behalf of employees can be very expensive for a small business.

  • SeasonsGleanings

    SeasonsGleanings said 6 years ago

    Yes, I'm beyond ready and doing whatever I can to support local/regional foods/products. As oil supplies dwindle, and the planet heats ups, our habits of consumption WILL change. Why wait until we're forced to do the right thing? I've been dreaming for many years for the trend called NMIC (not made in china)to take hold, and folks who have been leading the way by returning to smaller,simpler 'cottage' industry are part of rebuilding a strong foundation to make it possible. I think we also need to bring back manufacturing on larger scales that are socially /environmentally responsible, and there seem to be working models cropping up around the country. I'd love to see a list compiled of all of the best practices/companies, so that when we need to buy goods and services, we can more efficiently make informed choices, wherever we live in the US.

  • JKistlerStudios

    JKistlerStudios said 6 years ago

    I think many people are ready to buy certain kinds of things that are made by small businesses and/or artists, depending on what is important to each person. Because our income is limited, I NEED to buy the best value in many household items (cheapest that are actually of useful quality), but definitely like to buy special items and gifts that are unique, handmade, and/or produced locally or the "old-fashioned way" etc. (I also insist on quality food and love buying locally at the Saturday market)

  • WhatIWishedFor

    WhatIWishedFor said 6 years ago

    I really enjoyed the question and answer. Inspired me to make more! "Time, time, time, where are you?" I wanted to tell you also, that I really like your shop name. It was so hard to think of something, and then, to have the .com available. (I'm also a web designer, so I think of these things. . . . )

  • mallbeads

    mallbeads said 6 years ago

    so great.

  • 365daysonafarm

    365daysonafarm said 6 years ago

    Local Manufacturing is the way of the future. We need to go back to handmade goods. We should have pride in the products we make and consume. 'Less is more' that's the way of the future. As business owners we need to take the lead.Stand out among the others and show them that YES we can provide American made products. And we can succeed as a business. That's why our Yarn store has only 100% American Grown Yarns. That's it......we are making a stand. Others WILL follow.

  • ScrappyTudeStudios

    ScrappyTudeStudios said 6 years ago

    This is a major paradigm shift who's time has certainly come. Yes, it costs more to buy from small businesses at the checkout, but by scaling back and living simply so many of us (including me!) can lead the way to a better, more sustainable future. Think globally. Buy locally.

  • designarchives

    designarchives said 6 years ago

    Having spent several years of my design career working for sock manufacturers (who are all closed now, due to big box stores requesting the lowest priced cheapest socks that we could not produce)......this is an important read. I think the younger generation gets it! Now, can the rest of us understand? Going to Walmart for the lowest of low pricepoints does not help anyone.....

  • KaysGeneralStore

    KaysGeneralStore said 6 years ago

    Interesting to read this thread. I think what is ironic, is that the largest sales on Etsy are in the Supplies Category. Two of which indicate their product ships from a) Hong Kong b) South Korea (the storefronts are in USA) - the other sellers do not clearly indicate where their products are from, but I suspect a large portion are manufactured outside the USA. And I have to also assume that most of these supplies are being purchased by Etsy artisans .... it's easy to "bang the drum" but look to yourself first.

  • LaursArts

    LaursArts said 6 years ago

    and God said "Let there be ETSY!"

  • RhettDidntGiveADamn

    RhettDidntGiveADamn said 6 years ago

    @LaursArts And he saw that it was GOOD.

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 6 years ago

    LaursArts says: and God said "Let there be ETSY!" ---> I LOVE THIS! AMEN BROTHER!

  • t3446jt

    t3446jt said 6 years ago

    Very nice article!

  • BereniceDesigns

    BereniceDesigns said 6 years ago

    Great article and great post by thef3lbs.

  • AKingsThings

    AKingsThings said 6 years ago

    Oh Yes, the US of A is sooo diverse. The word needs to get and economy begin at home. With the internet and sites like Etsy a consumer can support smaller manufacturers easily. Just takes a little thinking out side of the box!!!

  • quiltytherapy

    quiltytherapy said 6 years ago

    Great article. Hubby and I try to buy and support local as much as possible. Pays off in the long run for everyone.

  • Louiethefish

    Louiethefish said 6 years ago

    luv it!!... I'm all for local made products!

  • HASbyShannon

    HASbyShannon said 6 years ago

    Etsy is what America needs. Not only is it allowing people to use their creative expression during a time when spirits are down, it is helping us heal through that expression, helping to support our local markets, and better, if you look a little deeper and ahead, it is helping preserve the family unit. Many families are coming together to be as creative as possible because that is the state of crisis our families have come to with the scarity of employment. It is allowing the stay at home mom to generate income, save on astronomical child care expenses, allows parents to raise their children themselves, and it teaches the children to get involved with the family business. I'm not saying to have kids quit school and work by any means, but the days of our children learning the importance of work ethic, charity work, responsibilty, and coming together as a family unit are long gone. Kids live in a world of video games and have become absorped in social networking sites that are fueled with drama rather than creativity. Kids learn by example, and what better way then to learn from their parents. Etsy has given opportunity for the parents to quit their jobs in corporate america that they really didn't have their heart in, and be able to do something they love and get the whole family involved. Americans need to come together and support our own Country now. We all have become so materialistic with everything that now that we have been stripped of what was not important, it is time to see the real meaning of what we, as Americans represent- AMERICA. So if we think about it, spending just a little less on video games to support local markets can make a profound change. We should know our neighbors name rather than the type of car they drive. I think Etsy represents the whole package of who Americans are, what we represent, and what we are capable of when it comes down to it.

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