The Benefits to Carrying American-Made Products
Are American-Made Lighting Brands a Good Fit for Your Showroom?
This post is sponsored by Genie House, a family-owned and operated lighting manufacturer.
When a customer turns over just about any light fixture they’ve ordered from Amazon or Wayfair, they’ll likely find a “Made in ________” sticker with foreign origins. The brand name is often indecipherable, and getting in touch with a manufacturer with questions or concerns is nearly impossible. This disconnect has become a feature, not a bug, of online shopping. Thanks to low labor costs and poor regulations overseas, these products sell because they are cheap to build and inexpensive for the consumer. And because they cost so little, shoppers are unlikely to be bothered by poor quality. Hey, they can just order a new one to be delivered to their doorstep in 48 hours.
Conscientious consumers, however, are coming to a realization: this wasteful, detached consumption is bad for the environment, worse for human rights, and personally dissatisfying. Is a poorly-made, substandard light fixture a savings to be proud of, or a sign of consumerism gone wrong?
Thankfully, these mindful shoppers are beginning to seek out quality over quantity, with the goal of spending their dollars domestically for a product that is both rugged and sustainably-made right here in the USA. In fact, according to a 2015 survey by Consumer Reports, nearly 8 in 10 American consumers say they prefer an American-made product over an imported one.
Here are six reasons consumers are choosing American made, and why you as a showroom owner should consider including US-made lighting products in your showroom’s lineup!
1. Quality Materials
When you lift a poorly-made light fixture out of its shipping box, you’ll be surprised at the weight, or lack thereof. Low-grade materials are the norm when paying pennies, and for an outdoor fixture that is meant to stand up to the elements that just won’t cut it long-term.
Light fixtures made by companies based in the USA, like the ones above made by Genie House, typically put more focus on the quality of the goods they are creating. Genie House uses top-of-the-line copper and brass that weather the elements while developing a beautiful patina.
Yes, it’s true that American-made products often cost more than their low-quality counterparts from foreign manufacturers. But as the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”, and the low-quality of cheaply manufactured light fixtures (especially exterior lights) usually means they’ll need replacing sooner rather than later. It’s easy for consumers, especially in tricky economies, to be blinded by the lower price tags. I find that if you take a moment to do the math with them, factoring in the money and time spent replacing the fixture every few years and comparing it to the cost of doing it right the first time, savvy consumers almost always come to the conclusion that it the money saved now comes with costs and hassle down the road that just aren’t worth it.
2. Boosts Local Economies
As a fellow showroom owner, I know I don’t need to explain to you the importance of small businesses to their local economy. We sink or swim with our community, and the human connections we make help people to generally just feel good about shopping local. This same logic applies to supporting local brands – there’s something that just feels community-minded about choosing the box off the shelf that says “Made in the USA”.
But there’s more to it than just connection – when those dollars spent go to US businesses, they help the US economy. When customers purchase products made overseas, they’re ultimately sending their money to other countries. When they opt for American-made products like Genie House lights, their purchase goes towards supporting craftsmen, designers, warehouse staff, and families right here in the USA. Providing products that help your customers feel more community-minded and help local and national economies? American-made products are a win-win for showrooms.
Buying American-made benefits the planet in several ways– for one, the goods don’t need to be shipped overseas by boat or plane, which lowers the carbon footprint of the customer’s purchase. US environmental standards ensure the manufacturing process itself is also “greener” than it might be in a country with lower emission regulations. The exceptional quality of the fixtures means they’ll stand the test of time, rather than needing to be thrown into a landfill and replaced once they’ve failed after a couple of years.
Many American manufacturers have taken steps to ensure their products are made with the next generation in mind. For example, sustainability-minded Genie House brand proudly uses environmentally-friendly chemicals, instead of harmful finishing products, to achieve their beautiful patina and accelerate the aging process, making their products safer for your home and better for the environment.
I know it’s tempting to view early failure as an opportunity for return customers, but the reality is that your customers are more likely to spread the word and come back to your showroom again and again when they can trust you to offer them high-quality fixtures with lasting value. A happy customer updating their home’s style is much better than a disgruntled customer replacing a broken fixture any day of the week!
4. Fair and Safe Working Conditions
As showroom owners, it’s important for us to be able to feel good about the origins of the products we recommend. There are countless shocking stories about conditions workers are subjected to when producing cheap goods destined for America. Child labor, forced labor, and appalling working conditions are often behind the ultra-inexpensive fixtures consumers buy from overseas manufacturers. Can we really call a product “cheap” when we consider the cost of human welfare?
The US maintains stringent labor laws that ensure those involved in the manufacturing process are paid at or above minimum wage, work reasonable hours, and are covered in case of injury. Family-owned and operated companies especially understand the importance of taking care of their employees – Genie House treats their employees like family (and most of them are!), so both you and your customers can feel confident that your dollars are going to the well-being of fairly-compensated and well-treated workers.
5. Ability to Request Custom Products
Aside from the moral implications of selling cheap, foreign-made goods, there’s an added feature of carrying American-made brands like Genie House in your showroom! Because every step of the production is done domestically in their US workshop, custom requests are welcome to any and all products in their catalog. A wide range of finishes can be hand-applied per the customer’s request, and several types of glasses are available, including seedy and frosted glass. Exterior lights can have photocells added for automation and safety, and can be customized to be DarkSky approved. Post lights can be made into wall lights, or even table lamps! The options are endless when you work with a US-based manufacturer that handles design and fabrication on site.
6. Better Customer Service
Nobody likes having to contact customer service with a problem or concern. Foreign manufacturers specializing in cheaply-made products are notoriously difficult to get ahold of, and sometimes can’t be reached at all. And even if you can get through, the hours of time difference can really drag out the communication when you have to wait until the middle of the night for their support team to clock in and respond. Every good salesman knows the importance of giving your customers peace of mind that they’re making a good choice. Being able to let your customers know they’ll have a comfortable experience should they run into an issue gives your staff an easy additional selling point!
It’s a fool’s errand to attempt to avoid all foreign-made products in your showroom, and there are plenty of brands based overseas that are making great fixtures fairly and safely. However, the perks to featuring USA-made lighting in your showroom are clear and tangible. When you promote a brand like Genie House, you show your dedication to quality, sustainability, and fair treatment of the skilled humans behind the product.
Genie House Lighting is a US-based, family-owned and operated lighting company with over 50 years of experience crafting custom copper and brass light fixtures that are as robust as they are beautiful. Every step of the manufacturing process is done in-house at their Vincentown, New Jersey workshop, from design to fabrication. Their loyal customers know that quality, not quantity, is their priority, and customization requests are not just possible, but encouraged. Try that with a no-name brand from Wayfair!
Interested in learning more about Genie House and their commitment to crafting light fixtures that customers can be proud of? Contact Debbie Williams for details and pricing.