Unique Store Offers 100% Made in America Goods
The Made in America Store in Elma, NY, about 20 miles south of Buffalo, has struck a chord with people in both the United States and internationally. The store, as the name implies, carries 100% American-made products. And it’s just not the products that are made in America; owner Mark Andol is so passionate about having 100% made in America items that everything in the store, from the shelves, to the price stickers, to even the glue that holds on the price stickers, is made in America.
The store, which opened in 2010, was started by Andol, owner of General Welding and Fabricating, after he had lost several major accounts to overseas businesses. Andol originally started a small engine service in his father’s garage in 1989 and had grown the business to 69 employees and four plants. However, in 2007, unable to lower his costs to compete with China, he lost three major accounts and was forced to consolidate his four plants into two. He had to lay off 31 workers, including family members. “That made the holidays awkward,” quipped Andol.
Andol decided to make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons and made it his mission to save and create jobs in the USA. He created the Made in America Store as a statement. “We should save our country first and put our neighbors to work.”
On opening day, with only 50 different products on the shelves, 800 people showed up supporting him and thanking him for opening the store, saying that he had given them hope. Since then, the store has grown from 2,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet, and they carry over 3,800 products including clothing, home décor, toys, pet items, camping supplies, food and more. In addition, the store’s website does over $100,000 in sales and is the number one website in the country selling American made products.
“I’m not a salesman,” said Andol. “I did this from my heart. I believe in the Made in America movement; we are growing pretty strong.” He added, “We educate people that the consumer has power; they can bring the country around. We are the only 100% made in America store in the country; that’s why we get so much attention.”
How much attention do they get? The store has been featured in over 300 print, online, and television interviews including World News Tonight, Fox and Friends, and National Public Radio, just to name a few. In addition, media outlets from as far away as Russia, Japan, and Korea have come to interview with Mark about the store. Also, a Made in America documentary is slated to debut on American TV in October 2012, which will include Mark Andol’s story. In November 2011, Andol was invited to the “Make it in America” conference at the White House. He added, “I’m not political, I’m just for America.”
The store is a popular destination for bus tour groups from all over the country who enjoy seeing the store and also embracing Andol’s mission to save and create jobs in the United States. Because of increasing consumer demand for 100% American made products, a 18,000 square foot state-of-the-art world distribution center for the Made in America Store was opened in May 2012. Located adjacent to its current location in Elma, this facility will enable them to increase inventory levels and streamline distribution
One of the store’s biggest supporters is country singer Ricky Lee, who met Andol in 2010. Lee had written a patriotic song about goods being made in America and Andol contacted him about selling the CD in the store. The only problem was that it had to be 100% made in America. Luckily, they were able to find a company in the country willing to manufacture both the CD and packaging. In addition to all the other things he does, Andol took on the role of Lee’s manager; a number of Lee’s concerts are held at the Made in America Store. They hope to raise $100,000 in their current Made in America Tour, so that they can send veterans to WashingtonDC to see the WWII Memorial.
To support the military, $5 from the sale of each CD goes to the VFW Military Assistance Program. In addition, veterans and military personnel get a 10% discount at the store and the storehas also teamed up with Wigwam with a promotion benefitting the military personnel serving in Afghanistan. During certain events, for every pair of socks purchased at the Made In America Store, Wigwam donates another pair of socks to the soldiers overseas.
Made in America Store
900 Maple Road
10 Cool Things You Can Get at the Made in America Store
With over 3,800 products to choose from at the Made in America Store, it was hard to pick just ten, but here goes.
1. 100% made in America flags. Did you know that 60% of the American flags that we proudly fly are actually made oversees? Not at the Made in America store. They are 100% US made. The durable nylon flags (3’x5’ & 4’x6’) have sewn stripes and embroidered stars. Prices range from $30-38.
2. Wigwam socks. Wigwam socks, which are perfect for camping and hiking, are made by the last textile company in the US and the Made in America Store is the largest outlet for Wigwam socks in the east. Prices range from $5-25.
3. Texas Blue Jeans. These 100% cotton denim jeans are made by one of the last denim blue jeans companies in the country. Most other blue jeans are made oversees. Prices range from $20-40.
4. Johnnie Ryan soda pop. This local specialty is made in Niagara Falls, NY. It is packaged in nostalgic glass bottles and made with 100% pure cane sugar. $5 for a 4 pack.
5. Items made by General Welding and Fabricating. Several unique decorative items are made just across the road at Andol’s General Welding and Fabricating business, including water jet steel art (prices vary) and the huge metal fish chairs found throughout the store ($400).
6. “Knock it Off.” This unique Frisbee game is also made at General Welding and Fabricating. It retails for $80.
7. Food. A stroll down the food aisle at the Made in America Store offers things you don’t see in other stores, like milk in glass bottles, popcorn in a dozen different flavors, locally made Chef’s sauce and Webers mustard, and so much more. (prices vary)
8. Fire Ring Rotating Grate Grill. This unique rotary device features a fire ring with a rotating grill surface. Perfect for back yard cook outs or camping. It sells for $150.
9. Nostalgic tin signs. The Made in America Store has hundreds of tin signs with a variety of themes and sayings, from Hollywood and movies, to autos, farm equipment, and more. They sell for $12.
10.Ricky Lee CD’s. This Nashville recording artist is a big supporter of the Made in America Store. His CD’s are 100% made in America and $5 from each sale goes to support the VFW Military Assistance Program. The CD’s retail for $15.