Who needs an American to make a gas (or charcoal) grill when I got a few thousand people in Asia who can do it for less?
Is the American quality better? Perhaps. But if the argument is on price, Americans lose. And now, American manufacturers have a whole new model of retail to deal with. Who needs Lowes to even sell grills for that matter when you have more choice on Amazon
and get subsidized direct shipment from China. (Yes, China often subsidizes international postage.)
This is where online retail is going. And if you’re in the Senate, like Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, and you simply want people to know where the stuff they are buying is made, you will be greeted by the awesome K Street might of National Retail Federation and Amazon lobbyists who will fight back.
Baldwin recently introduced the COOL Online Act. It would require the likes of Amazon to list where their products are made. Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post reported on May 27 that both Amazon and Walmart
oppose such labeling.
The Online Advantage
Goods sold in person are required by law to display their country of origin, but current laws don’t force online retailers to include this information about their products, the Post reported.
The same holds for catalogs.
Go ahead. Check out that Sharper Image catalog you got in the mail this week. Imports? You don’t know. It doesn’t say.
“The provision will create a new liability for retailers and sellers to not only post the information but certify the accuracy of the information provided by product vendors,” more than two dozen industry associations, including the National Retail Federation and the Consumer Technology Association, wrote in a May 21 letter to the Senate Commerce Committee, the Post reported.
Weak. Very weak.
At the very least, they can say it is “imported”.
This is Amazon.com’s recommendation for a charcoal grill.
One would imagine that if Amazon is recommending an item, they should know from where they are importing the item into their warehouses. But you will not even notice that this is an import. Maybe the wheels are made in China. Or the thermostat. But if the bulk of the item is made in the U.S. from U.S. metals, then why not label it a Made in the U.S.A. product?
Other things on their website, like clothing, will often simply say “import”, just as it would on Macy’s.com. Online retailers might not know exactly where that particular shirt is coming from — some may be made in El Salvador. Others in Turkey. But they do know if it is an import.
Royal Gourmet is based in Atlanta. Or as their website read as of May 28, Atalanta. Their entire About page is a mess.
I phoned their customer service line to ask about their grills. It went to voice mail.
Do you want to know where your tequila came from?
Do you buy locally produced craft beer? Do you prefer it over Budweiser? I bet locally crafted beer is popular not just because of taste, but because people like supporting the local brewer.
Do Californians go ga-ga over farm-to-table cookouts? Yup. Unless it’s a star fruit salad, mixed with jack fruit…then it’s probably grown and raised on a California farm. That’s what makes farm-to-table so appealing. (That and the outdoor Acacia wood picnic tables and candle lit hurricane lamps; I get it.)
Nevertheless, Americans really do like to know where there goods come from, according to this October 2020 survey by the Reshore Institute.