Made in America: What's the Cost of U.S. Housewares?

PHOTO ABC?s David Muir and Sharyn Alfonsi sit with the Usry family in their Dallas, Texas home, which was refitted with American-made goods.
Share
Copy

An American family has shown that it is possible to create a home with American-made products.

At ABC News' request, the Usry family of Dallas agreed to empty their master bedroom, living room and kitchen of any products that were imported, and replace them with goods made in America.

Companies from across the U.S. lent their American-made goods for our showcase, and ABC paid to deliver the products to the Usrys' home. When the family looked around their refurbished home, they learned that there were high-quality domestic alternatives for nearly every item.

But what about the costs? ABC contacted more than 100 companies looking for American-made products to fill the Usrys' home, and some sell at prices comparable or even lower than the family's old imported goods.

Take the master bedroom, for example. Their old imported bed was replaced with a bedroom suite from Vaughan-Bassett in Galax, Virginia.

Click here to take a virtual tour of the Usrys' "Made in America" home with details on each product.

Family-run since 1919, the company is one of the largest wood furniture producers in the U.S., and it says that 99 percent of its line is made in the United States.

"The customer needs to know that our furniture is made from the heart," said Shirley Johnson, one of the workers who make Vaughan-Bassett furniture.

The workers say they are proud of the quality of their product, but they're also competitive in pricing. The bedroom suit in the Usrys' home, including a bed, dresser, mirror, chest and nightstand, sells for $1,499, less than the family's old furniture.

Vaughan-Bassett executive Doug Bassett said his company's success is no accident.

"It's really a mindset," said Bassett. "The American worker is the best worker in the world. If you want to stay in America, you just have to believe that Americans can compete and commit yourself to that belief."

The Usrys' kitchen, now with American-made products.
Photo credit: ABC News/Bradley Blackburn

In the living room, the Usrys also have American items now that do not cost more than the imports they replaced. Their old lamp was made in China, but the new American-made copper table lamp from Sedgefield Adams sold in a similar price range, and the family said it was just as good.

American Alternatives in the Living Room

Before, the Usrys had $80 drapes hanging on their windows, but the new American-made alternatives from Firefend sold for half the price.

The Usrys' old coffee table was made in India, but there were plenty of American-made alternatives there, too. ABC found tables that retail for $250 and $500. The table delivered to the Usrys costs far more -- about $1,500 -- but the company that makes it promises that it is heirloom quality.

Click Here to Purchase Your "Made in America" T-Shirt

Harden Furniture in McConnellsville, N.Y., has been making furniture for five generations, and 96 percent of their products are made domestically. The company said that it currently ships 20,000 pieces a year, and an uptick in sales would mean an increase in American jobs.

"If we sell 3,000 more pieces this year, that will get us to our sales objective for the year and that will equate to an additional 15 to 20 jobs," said Gregory Harden.

Kitchen Presents Pricing Challenge

If there was one room in the house that was hard to furnish for less, it was the kitchen, thanks to the premium on completely American-made appliances.

The Usrys' old appliances from G.E. and alternatives from Sub-Zero, Wolf and Viking cost plenty. The Sub-Zero fridge alone retails for over $8,500, and the Viking stove from Mississippi costs nearly $3,000. The Wolf microwave costs $500, a high-quality product but at a cost far higher than imports.

And while high-end appliances may not be within reach for all Americans, each sale makes a difference for American workers. In Greenwood, Mississippi, the success of Viking has helped revitalize a poverty-stricken town. Besides making stoves, ovens and other appliances, the company has opened a hotel and a restaurant, helping to draw tourists.

"Viking saved Greenwood, because Viking decided to stay here with us," said Bridgette Matthews, who has worked for the company for nine years.

You can explore the Usry home and see details on each American-made product by clicking here.

And click here for more from our "Made in America" series.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...