Saturday, December 10, 2011

Made in USA: Toy Edition

If you read my previous post, you know I am on a Buying American kick. Let me tell you, it is CHALLENGING!

Let me first clarify that I am NOT throwing out my Samsung smart phone, the Nintendo Wii, trading in my Kia and clearing out my closet for American made clothes only. Countries have traded goods for thousands of years and trade can be good for the economy. But I would like to do my part and Buy American goods when at all possible. 

I had no idea how difficult this was going to be. And the real challenge was finding toys for my kids for Christmas.

When I first considered what to buy the kids for Christmas (before my MADE IN THE USA kick started), I was thinking LeapPads and Wii games, Barbies for Emma, plus a few Cars 2 toys for the boys. But after my new resolution, those things obviously would not do.

So, I went hunting online. At I found a directory of American made toys. After sifting through all of their listings, here is what I came up with:

You've heard of Pillow Pets? Meet Pillow Puppets! I thought these were very cute. This is the one I got for Mann. These are made in Vermont by Vermont Teddy Bear. They also make personalized teddy bears. Very cute stuff on their website. (These were $19.99 each)

This is the one I got for Emma. Obviously, these can serve the same purpose as the Pillow Pets!

I spent a good chunk of money at Holgate Toys.
I loved these Handeez cars. My kids spend a lot of time racing cars and trucks around the house on their knees. These little wooden cars actually have a place for their hands to go, for easy maneuvering! And they are cute! I got one for each child. ($9.99 each)

I also picked up some basic wood blocks for Emma. She loves to build and these are so classic! We can talk about the letters and animals as she plays. ($16)

This is a tanker truck that I got for Mann. ($19.99)

Daniel is into race cars at the moment and he actually caught me looking at this one and so we put it on his list for Santa to bring. ($9.99)

Very simple, but sturdy. That's what I loved about all of these toys from Holgate. They are all made of wood and made to last a lifetime. This toy company has been around since 1789! The history nerd in me finds that totally awesome. That is the year the US Constitution was written!!!
When I cleaned out the kids' toys a month ago, I threw away toys that were only a year or two old because they had broken. And so many of my kids toys require batteries and make obnoxious noise. All of these toys encourage creative and fantasy play. They have to make their own little truck and race car noises, which I would much rather hear than a blaring siren over and over again. Kids are so "plugged in" today, I thought these were a refreshing change.
Buying American toys is especially easy if you have young boys. Wood blocks and trucks were easy to find.
 Girl toys were a completely different story. I was unsuccessful with finding a doll for Emma. Every doll was either imported or way too expensive. For example, Cabbage Patch dolls with the original face are American made and $199, while you can buy the vinyl faced ones for much less and they are Made in China. (The one shown here is an original and is priced at $245, but made in the US. For $245, I am pretty sure I would never let Emma's sticky little fingers touch it!)
American Girl Dolls? Those are made in China as well. Sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it?
I gave up on the doll search online and searched through Emma's room and found this. Meet "Baby." This was my doll that I have had since I was an infant. She was made in 1980, in the good 'ol USA. She is sporting a handmade outfit sewn by my grandmother, Mary Spurgeon. So, as it turned out, Emma has a irreplaceable doll, made in America. I just wish I could buy her one to hand down to her daughter that didn't have "CHINA" printed on the back of her head.

But again, we aren't trashing everything imported. My family is buying the kids some more Wii games and the new Cars 2 movie and they will be thrilled. But I really feel like they will be excited about their new toys on Christmas morning, too. I hope they are! Stay tuned.....
PS - Both Little Tikes and Step 2 toys have some of their products made in the USA, but others imported, so check the label. You may be pleasantly surprised.

You might also check out these sites:



  1. Hey Mary...
    You have really been doing some homework on this and I for one appreciate your hard work!
    love the cute pillow puppets and I just might have to invest in a couple of these things...
    I stand behind you on this endeavor...Buy American!!!!!!

  2. We have a guy in town who makes wooden toys and some furniture which has always been one of my favorite places to buy things. It's We have a set of blocks that my mom got for Trajan for his first birthday that has logged in the hundreds of hours of playtime and is probably rapidly headed towards thousands.

    I don't buy toys that require batteries for either my kids or as presents. This doesn't mean my kids don't have these (they do!), just I don't buy them.