An exhibit at the Made in America showcase at last week s Outdoor Retailer convention in Salt Lake City. A recent trend has more outdoor companies
An exhibit at the Made in America showcase at last week s Outdoor Retailer convention in Salt Lake City. A recent trend has more outdoor companies manufacturing domestically. (Photo by Michael Collin)
A familiar phrase, once thought to be a lost relic, is being dusted off in the world of outdoor retail: Made in America.

The manufacturing of products in the United States was one of the themes at the Outdoor Retailer convention held last week in Salt Lake City. The four-day event brought in more than 27,000 manufacturers and retailers of outdoor gear and nearly 1,600 exhibitors, according to a press release.

Lindsay Bourgoine, Advocacy Manager for the Outdoor Industry Association, which puts on the convention, said the trend of companies bringing the manufacturing of their products back home has been quietly gaining traction in recent years.

"I think it's been a movement that's been going on for a while," she said. "People are excited about products being made in America again."

Hoping to capitalize on the forum the Outdoor Retailer provides to bring more awareness to the trend, the Outdoor Industry Association put on a Made in America showcase, featuring 30 products manufactured in the United States. In addition to the showcase, an educational panel was held to help companies learn about the trend and the challenges companies face when they make the decision to manufacture domestically.

"The idea was not only to educate buyers, but to educate manufacturers," Bourgoine said.

Citing analysis done by the Boston Consulting Group, Bourgoine said Americans are willing to pay between 10 percent and 60 percent more for a product made in the United States, out of patriotism and a belief that a product that carries a "Made in America" stamp ensures quality.


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But manufacturing costs also are beginning to make companies shift their attention back home, Bourgoine said.

"For a while it has been cheaper to import," she said, "but we're getting to a point where that price point is being questioned."

To put on the Made in America Showcase, the Outdoor Industry Association created a working group of roughly 170 companies to discuss the movement, Bourgoine said. Many companies in the working group already produce their products in America, while others are interested in doing so. The idea was to develop a complete understanding of the issue, so it could best be presented at the Outdoor Retailer convention.

"It's a great first step," Bourgoine said. "I think we will get more companies aware of the benefits. I think it will raise a lot of awareness and networking."

Now that domestic manufacturing is gaining traction, the question becomes whether the trend is just that -- a trend -- or the beginning of a movement that will last.

"I think there was some questioning of whether it's a long-term trend," Bourgoine said. "But it becoming financially reasonable for companies (to make products in America), means it's here to stay."