Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas shopping for made in Michigan

This is the Christmas for us folks in Michigan to try helping our neighbors by buying some of their goods and services. The buy Michigan campaign is growing, and even the Detroit Free Press is taking note. They recently had a decent spread on holiday books written by Michigan authors.
That’s a good start, but it got me to thinking how we can support Michigan folks who have real jobs making things. I’m talking about the stuff we use in real life, not just plates with the seal of Michigan on them or other trinkets.
Actually, I’ve been concerned about this for a while, and while traveling the state to research and write my travel book, Michigan: An Explorer’s Guide, I took note of all the great things we produce here in the state.
When writing the travel guide, I gave my Jeep Cherokee center stage because I wanted people from other parts of the country to know that we not only build cars, but we drive the ones we make.
From my travels, I compiled a list of Michigan products, things that we use in our daily lives that we need.
• Food: This fact from a state website struck me the most. If we all just spent $10 a week on Michigan agricultural products that would mean an additional $37 million would go into our economy.
• Wood: Yep, we still cut down trees in this state, and build things out of them. Timber industry workers and carpenters make decent living wages and support families, unlike the checkout clerks at big box stores. I mention this because several years ago, I remodeled a room in my home and tried to use as many Michigan products in it as possible. My carpenter used a local lumber yard, and for the ceiling, I went on line searching for Michigan white cedar. I found it at a small mill in Boyne City, Town & Country. We called, ordered the tongue and grove paneling, and the folks at the mill had it shrink wrapped and sent to us via UPS. It arrived just on time for my carpenter, and it was no more expensive than if I’d bought it at a big box store. Here’s the mill’s website:
• Beer: Here’s a product consumed in many Michigan homes on a regular basis. There are many brew pubs that serve their own products, but there are Michigan beers on the shelves of many party stores. Pick up a six-pack of Bell’s, Arcadia or Atwater, all Michigan made brews.
• Clothing: Carhartt is a Michigan firm that produces tough work and outdoor clothing, much of which is made in Michigan. But not all, so check the label before buying.
• Footwear – Wolverine Boots of Rockford Michigan produces rugged outdoor and work boots. Again, not all of their footwear is made in Michigan, so check the label, but at least the company is still located in Michigan.
• Wine – Michigan made wine is making a good name for itself. Picking up a bottle for the holidays is a way to keep you money working in your home state.

If you’re interested in supporting Michigan products, here’s a website devoted to the subject:

Also, is a good website to find American made clothing. Check out the prices, they’re really not much higher than the stuff from overseas.

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