For decades, Americans have celebrated the 4th of July with parades, backyard barbecues and fireworks. This year, it might be time to add a new ritual: buying a product that was actually manufactured and assembled in the United States.
As millions of Americans lose their jobs, buying local has a particularly resonant appeal. Spend your money on products made here, goes the thinking, and you'll keep factories open and fellow Americans on the payroll.
The issue even found its way into President Obama's recent stimulus bill, which stipulated that the steel and iron used for construction projects must be produced in the U.S. (The provision was followed by loopholes that practically guarantee non-American materials will be used to some extent.)
I don't have the time, space, or - frankly -- the inclination to debate the merits of free-trade treaties. But buying American doesn't necessarily mean embracing protectionism or disparaging anything with a "Made in China" label. (Let's be honest: If you reject every product made in China, shopping options would be limited.)
The new made-in-the-USA movement is more about making conscious choices. Just as American consumers have started embracing environmentally friendly practices without jumping into the living-off-the-grid lifestyle, they're putting more thought into how what they buy affects American jobs. Companies that manufacture in the U.S. are finding that right now is a particularly good time to highlight their local roots. For some, it's the very thing that sets them apart and builds brand loyalty.