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American-Made Apparel in So Many Ways; Costco vs. Wal-Mart
Our Buy American Mention of the Week!
by Roger Simmermaker
March 29, 2004

Thereís no reason to buy imported apparel if you know where to look. Over the last few months, I have written several "Buy American Mention of the Week" articles on just how easy - and affordable - it is to buy apparel made in the USA. My belief that everything you wear every day can be (and should be) made in the USA continues to be reinforced as I continue to become aware of more patriotic apparel-makers that pride themselves in their American workforce.

From dress shirts and everyday apparel to bikinis and pajamas, all can be found made in the USA. As layoffs and Chinese imports increase simultaneously, we can help replace these jobs by directing our dollars to American manufacturers, forcing them to expand their production and hire more Americans. Iím sure that neither the American companies nor their newly-hired employees would complain.

I had the pleasure of meeting the owner for A.N.H. Distributors last month, and I have just received my first order from their King Cotton Collection. You can see their collection at www.anhdistributors.com. Every item they offer is made in their Miami factory.

Looking for American-made dress shirts? Try www.mortonshirts.com or check out the new pinpoint oxford dress shirt from www.quantumcotton.com. Quantumís new white dress shirt is simply the softest and most comfortable dress shirt I have ever worn.

If youíre looking to get into the swing of spring, try www.venusswimwear.com. Venus Swimwear is based in Jacksonville, Florida and is Americaís largest maker of swimwear. Letís help keep them on top since every piece of swimwear they offer is stitched right here in the USA. Venus does offer other clothing and accessories that may not be American made, so if you search their catalog for items other than swimwear, keep this in mind.

Looking for American-made pajamas? Try Pajama Mamaís website at www.pjmama.com where youíll see several styles and colors - all made in the USA.

Of course we canít always order everything over the internet or via telephone. When youíre not searching for American-made apparel and find yourself looking for a big name retailer that has everything, you might try Costco instead of Wal-Mart. I havenít seen any data on the percentage of goods made in America from Costco vs. Wal-Mart, even though Wal-Mart is Americaís biggest importer of Chinese goods, but there are other reasons Costco might be more deserving of our dollars.

Costco has a reputation in the retail industry for providing the best benefits for their employees, and their wages are much better than Wal-Martís as well. Cashiers start out at $10.50 an hour, top out at $17.50 an hour, and can make $40,000 a year in less than four years working full-time.

Wal-Mart, which refuses to release information on their wage rates, claiming they vary depending on the location, starts their Las Vegas cashiers at $7.65 an hour and tops them out at $11.45 an hour. Itís amazing that Wal-Martís top pay for cashiers is less than 10% higher than Costcoís starting pay.

Costcoís employee turnover rate is more than half of Wal-Martís, and the company has successfully resisted passing on rising health care costs to their employees seven of the last eight years.

As you might guess, Costco has taken some heat from the Wall Street elite for being too generous to their employees and not focusing on shareholder returns instead. That should be a clue to ordinary Americans that Costco is doing something right. Could it be that 82% of Costcoís employees are covered (able to afford) company-provided health insurance? Could it be that Costco covers 92% of health care premiums for their workers vs. 66.6% for Wal-Mart? The answer is probably "yes" to both questions.

The more health care premiums are covered by successful American companies employing Americans, the less the federal government will be obligated to cover through higher taxes on all of us as pressures mount to find a solution to the health-care crisis. The best solution is obviously not one that shifts the burden to working Americans.

So when youíre looking for American-made apparel of any kind, try one of the company websites featured in this article, or one of the many others featured on the links page at www.howtobuyamerican.com. But for general retail, consider Costco instead of Wal-Mart, where youíre likely to find happier employees for a happier shopping experience.


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