The title for this latest "Buy American Mention of the Week" is in the form of a question since I have received so many of them regarding Quantum Cotton Company. I have received so many questions - and continue to do so - that I felt motivated to devote at least part of a BAMW to letting everyone know that Quantum Cotton has indeed gone out of business. The good news is that ZebulonUSA (www.zebulonusa.com) has acquired the remaining inventory from Quantum's former supplier.
According to Paul Staunch, owner of ZebulonUSA, they have about 370 pairs of khaki pants, 130 of the khaki shorts, and smaller quantities of dress shirts and women's skirts. They also have about 1,000 of Quantum's made-in-USA polo shirts. None of the dress shirts that remain are available in white, however. To browse these former Quantum products, as well as the many fine ZebulonUSA products, please visit www.zebulonUSA.com.
Many of you also may remember Cape Shoe Company, which I mentioned in this BAMW September 8, 2003. Cape Shoe (www.capeshoe.com) went out of business on August 24 of this year. I talked with owner Eli Fishman about this unfortunate news, and he directed me to a great website, www.workertimes.com, which has posted many great articles written by him. Eli also told me that he believed a big part of the reason for his company's downfall was the American consumer's unwillingness in too many instances to "put their money where their mouth is," adding that too many people preach "Buy American" but not enough are actually doing it.
Cape Shoe's workers were represented by UAW Local 1930, so unions were obviously a very likely target consumer group for Cape Shoe products. Eli told me he would get permission to offer his union-made boots at manufacturing plants on occasion, but when he would walk into a unionized plant of 4,000 workers and only sell 100 pairs of union-made boots, it did tend to give him an uneasy feeling about the future viability of pushing "Buy American."
I'm certainly not here to bash unions. I belong to two of them. But that doesn't mean I agree with everything union leaders suggest either. Unions, just like any other organization, can get big and greedy and experience their share of corruption. But so can the government, yet no one would be credible in saying that because of that we should abolish government. And likewise, we should not be advocates to abolish unions. They are probably the only organization left today that has the power to put upward pressure on wages. America needs that. But as Eli pointed out in one of his great articles at www.workertimes.com, "Union members should not call for preserving American jobs while wearing Chinese-made clothing and footwear. Every purchase counts. Union leaders need to educate their members on the importance of their individual contributions and refocus them on shared communal values. These union leaders, in effect, represent all American workers."
Should everyone on the Buy American Mention of the Week email list have bought from Cape Shoe? Of course not. Few of us could afford to support every product or company featured on www.howtobuyamerican.com, but we need to buy from them (or other companies that offer American-made products that can be found elsewhere) when we are in the market for the product or service they offer.
The message is clear. If we talk the talk of "Buy American," then we must walk the walk as well. That way, we can keep other patriotic, American companies like Quantum Cotton and Cape Shoe from having to close their doors. We must buy American while there is still American left to buy.