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I spotted something on The Grommet today that really deserves a discussion. For anyone unfamiliar with the site, The Grommet describes itself as a place to “discover products everyday by makers worth supporting.” We like it because they feature a lot of Made-in-America products (and frankly, because they give us anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars if you buy anything through our links). But that’s not why this post was written.
It was written because of feedback I saw on one of the more recent launches: the hand-crafted Repast Ravioli Rolling Pin. Its claim-to-fame is that it can turn out perfect little pillows that are properly sealed and don’t burst open during cooking (evidently an issue with other ravioli-making techniques). I thought it was one of the more beautiful kitchen implements I’ve seen and immediately thought of two people who might like it as a gift. As a lifelong lover of craft shows, I have seen many, many types of well-made wooden objects, so the prices – $79 for the small roller, $99 for the large – did not strike me as out-of-line. The roller is not just American-made, but made from American-grown hardwood.
But when I went to read the “launch discussion,” a question-and-answer event held on the first day a product appears on the site, I was surprised, not just by the griping about the price, but by the realization of how far we still have to go to educate the public about the value of American-Made products.
“Delphina” questioned why she should spend the extra bucks when she could buy a plastic roller for $25.
“Christopher” wanted to know why this item was any better than the $25 roller he could get at Jet.
And these are people who are shopping on a site that focuses on products from makers, artisans and entrepreneurs!The product creator, a woodworker and engineer named Michael Finizio, gamely answered the questions, telling Delphina, “Similar products are not only made in China from unsustainable woods, but they create ravioli that easily burst while cooking,” and reminding Christopher that, “Your $79 is not only purchasing a functional piece of art that’s made in the USA but is helping to replant trees.” Repast works with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant more trees than it uses, 1500 so far.
By the time I finished reading, I was feeling a little down about the seemingly impossible task that our U.S. makers face in convincing Americans that quality and durability matter. That American jobs matter. That using beautifully handcrafted objects feeds the soul.
So I did the only two things I could do. I bought the ravioli roller. The big, honking $99 model. Then I wrote this post to tell you about it.
Pass it on.