I bought a pair of cool blue New Balance sneakers this weekend. I picked up my size 14s downtown at the ShoeBox. It was an interesting experience for me for a couple of reasons. One was that I wasn't actually looking for sneakers. I saw a pair of red New Balances in the window and went inside to inquire. Much to my chagrin, they didn't have my size—which is often the case.
I've been rocking my Adidas sneakers for about three years and it shows. I needed a new sneak to wear in the casual setting. I don't need my pinkie toe exposed when I'm out with friends, at least not anymore.
Brace yourself, here comes the point: New Balance is one of the few companies that still makes their shoes in the USA. Actually, scratch that. They make some of their shoes in the USA. The tags on the US-made shoes read "Our commitment to US workers." My girlfriend jokingly added "some of the time."
My first reaction was frustration. What is a commitment some of the time? It's nothing. The majority of NB shoes in the store were made in China and Vietnam. If you're going to showboat your "commitment," why not go all the way and make all of your shoes US-made. To make things worse, all of the US-made NB sneakers read "Made in the USA" in huge gaudy letters on the tongue and "USA" on the sides and back of the shoe. That's aggravating.
Anyway, the store clerk kindly informed me that its environmental laws that prevent New Balance from making all of their shoes here. He said the broad "green" mandates affect far more than they were designed to, and this is one way it hurts the economy. He then said that New Balance is trying very hard to keep at least some of its operation stateside.
So, the sneakers I ended up with were Vietnam born. Yes, I lose some points. But I realized my "Buy American" resolution (#3) is similar to the buying local resolution. If you can't buy American, get as close as possible. Find out how American or un-American the product really is. If you can't tell, try to find the product in a local store. Supporting your downtown is just as good as supporting your country. Take the extra step and it will help the things you rely on continue to move forward.