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Saving Americaís Footwear Industry, Part 2
Our Buy American Mention of the Week!
by Roger Simmermaker
September 8, 2003

The response to the original "Saving America's Footwear Industry" article from ezine subscribers and regular visitors to the website chiming in with more American-made footwear brands was so overwhelming; I am compelled to write a follow-up article.

In the original Buy American Mention of the Week, I featured Danner Shoe Manufacturing Company (www.danner.com) and Cape Shoe Company (www.capeshoe.com) as two preferred domestic makers of shoes and boots. Many readers of that article, however, corrected me pointing out that not all of Danner's products are made in the USA. Only those products on the Danner website that specifically say "Made in USA" in the detailed product description are actually made here. Cape Shoe Company, however, does make all their shoes and boots in the USA.

Now for some other patriotic choices, as suggested by many of our readers and subscribers. Red Wind Shoe Company offers a wide variety of shoes and boots, but only those branded with the Red Wing label are American made, so shop wisely. Red Wing has two plants in Minnesota, one plant in Missouri and one plant in Kentucky. Their Minnesota-made boots are proudly made by both the Teamsters and Boot and Shoe Workers of America unions. Visit www.redwing.com.

You can also visit www.weinbrennerusa.com where you'll find all Work One and Sturgis boots are union made in Wisconsin USA. The other brands on the website are not made in the USA. A visit to www.chippewaboots.com displays the words "American made since 1901," leaving little doubt that all Chippewa boots are made in USA. You can also buy American made/union made boots at www.ironworkergear.com. These boots proudly have the American flag displayed right on the tongue of the boot.

I also received emails requesting more footwear options for the ladies. I would suggest visiting www.okabashi.com where all kinds of sandals and other casual footwear may be found. The heritage page of their website claims that all their footwear is made in the USA and that the company, according to my email correspondence with them, is based in Georgia, even though the name sounds like it might be foreign based.

And last but certainly not least, I corresponded with President and CEO Roberta Shoemaker of the West Coast Shoe Company. You can find their website at www.westcoastshoe.com. Roberta assured me that 100% of West Coast boots are made in their Scappoose, Oregon factory. She also offered the following quotes and asked that I include them in this article to convey the company's continued commitment to the American worker. Her quotes are as follows:

"BUY AMERICAN is diluted in the sense of the definition of ĎMade In America.' Many products only require a small portion to be manufactured in the United States to qualify for this label. I would like to see a modification to the system creating a category for products 100% Made In America such as ours. And, to further show the commitment of manufacturers in this category, a higher level of recognition should be given to those who use raw materials and products that are also manufactured 100% in the US. Buy American labeling should definitely not only tighten up their standards, but subsequently strengthen consumer awareness through product labeling."

Itís great to see that the commitment to American workers in the U.S. is alive and well in so many U.S. footwear companies. Letís make sure they receive our footwear-purchasing dollars so it can remain financially possible to live up to their commitments. Itís impossible to expect that these companies can remain in the U.S. if their competitors make 100% of their products in China or low-wage Southeast Asia. These American companies must have the profits necessary to pay the higher wages workers require in America, so letís channel our dollars to the right places.

And, since the companies featured in this article offer their products for purchase right on their websites, youíll save yourself the time and frustration involved in going to a big-name retailer only to find they donít carry American-made brands and donít care to either.

As more and more manufacturing jobs in the U.S. continue to disappear, the fate of the American footwear industry cannot be left alone to blind market forces. This industry requires action to be saved, and it is the patriotic consumer that must save it.


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