You’re probably all familiar with the old proverb
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
I had the misfortune of experiencing it firsthand. Puzzled? More after the break
My wife and I are building a backyard chicken coop. Hell, it’s more of a condo than a coop. Anyhow, we needed some trim boards and finishing nails to complete the inside so we headed to the Lowe’s in the nearby town of Issaquah (I’d have gone to the local hardware store but they don’t carry lumber). As I was looking at the nails I tried to find some made in the US. I figured there have got to be US made nails, so I started looking.
As usual they have 300 kinds of nails but you can’t find the ones you need. Eventually I found the size/type I was after – one was from China – those were right out. The other was from Grip-Rite. The name sounded familiar, maybe they were an American company. Sure enough on the box they say they’re located in Texas. But where were the nails from? It actually took me a while to find where they were made. It’s listed on the package – in a 4pt font that most people would be hard pressed to find let alone read – “Made in UAE” That did it, I got mad. I got mad and I decided I was going to do something about it. I went to the service desk and asked to speak to a manager, they called one over. The conversation, such as it was, went like this:
Me: “Do you have any American made nails?”
Mgr: “I don’t know, I’d have to look”
Me: “Don’t bother, you only carry two brands in this size, one is made in China, these are made in the UAE. Why don’t you carry American made nails?”
Mgr: “The UAE?”
Me: “The United Arab Emirates. Why don’t you sell American nails?”
Mgr: “You have lots of choices..”
Me: (cutting him off) “Sure, I can get Chinese nails, UAE nails, maybe Mexican nails, but none made in this country! You wonder why so damn many people are out of work in this country? Here’s why!”
Mgr: “I’m going to have to ask you to calm down.”
Me: “I’m going to have to ask you to carry American products or I’m not shopping here again.”
I actually made a bit of a scene. I got three shoppers to ask why I was upset. And one of the employees tried to find the place of manufacture and couldn’t until I showed him. Then he an I spent several minutes looking and couldn't find any American made nails or screws, though we did find some bolts. And it got me thinking of that proverb, updated of course:
For want of a nail a job was lost
For want of a job a home was lost
For want of a home a family was lost
For want of a family a town was lost
For want of a town the nation was lost
And all for the want of an American made nail.
The actions of the protesters in Wisconsin and elsewhere have given me some hope. Maybe, just maybe, if enough of us actually demand American made products whenever and wherever possible we might actually get them. Don’t just buy the Chinese-made or whatever product, even if it is the only one available. Yes, you might have to buy it, but complain first. Complain in person. Complain in writing. Tell them you’re going to take your business elsewhere (or nowhere if you can’t buy American). But don’t just buy it without complaining.
In the end I bought the damn nails because I thought I needed them. But when I got home and I was rummaging thru the garage to find my circular saw I found some old nails in a bag. I don’t know where they were made but they were from 15-20 years ago so there is a good chance they’re American. I took the UAE nails back to Lowe’s the next day. I hope they sit on their shelves forever.
h/t to BlackSheep1 who found Maze Nails. An American manufacturer (and with a dealer in my home town, yay!)