- Gift shopping is the perfect time to test how far you can go buying local, bloggers say
- Mom: "You have extra time to research, and ... flexibility in what you choose to buy"
- Kids can be hard to shop for because they often want electronics, licensed toys
- Check labels at Target, Wal-Mart for beauty products, paper goods made in U.S., some say
Sarah Wagner's interest in American manufacturing began with a family road trip. She and her husband loaded up their motor home in summer 2011 and visited small towns across the country whose fate seemed to be tied to the presence of industry.
Where plants and factories had closed down, they found empty main streets with boarded-up storefronts. In other places, such as Forest City, Iowa, home to the Winnebago factory, they found vibrant communities where they could tour manufacturing facilities and witness the pride employees took in their work.
When the trip was over, she started a Twitter account to share resources for all things made stateside. As USA Love List has evolved into a website, Wagner has learned that even though she can find plenty of goods made in the United States, it's impossible to live off them.
But she said the holiday season is the perfect time to experiment with how far she can go. For the second year in a row, Wagner has pledged to buy as many gifts as possible made in the United States. Knowing where to start can be a challenge, but Wagner and others for whom conscious consumerism means buying American say there are many places to check out, from craft fairs, Etsy and specialty boutiques to e-commerce.
"Gift-giving creates the perfect opportunity to try to buy American. You have extra time to research, and you have flexibility in what you choose to buy," said the married mother of two from Philadelphia.
"I'm a realist. I know that it's impossible to