VENICE, Fla. - According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans spent more than $2.5 billion in products from China this past holiday season. Many want to buy American, but it's not always easy to do. Now a Venice woman has opened a unique general store where they've already done the work for you.
Molly Kraut has just opened her new store. From a space pen to a plunger, you'll find lots of different items inside -- but all with a common theme. "All made in America products."
Welcome to the U.S. Mart. Kraut, a full time veterinarian in town, has spent the past year calling, buying, double checking every single product before it landed on the shelf. "We have to check labels, tags, talk to the reps."
Let's face it, while you might want to shop for American products these days it certainly takes effort. "We want to make it easy for people so they can just pick it up and know where it is made."
Dr. Molly says she knows of only one other similar store in the country -- perhaps because it's not easy to set up and keep up. "Nearly every order we have something comes in that says Chinese. We have even had to take photographs of labels and send it back to the company itself to prove that is said made in China because they insisted it was not."
She says along the way something interesting has happened. "The flip flops are made in Georgia. The Texas jeans are actually made in North Carolina." Learning the story behind the products and the people who make them. "You talk to the people. Some of them actually are working in the factories. They are on the floor. It has kind of tied America together when we start to know about all these products."
Shoppers are taking notice. "It's a concept that I think was a pretty good idea. I just wanted to stop in and see what they had," says shopper Darry Knapp.
He ended up walking out with nearly $200 in toys for kids in need. "The prices are more than fair. I think very competitive to some of the stores I looked at."
Those like Lennie MacArthur say they're even willing to pay more. "I would rather pay more for a product that is made in the United States then one made elsewhere."
For others, it's concerns about the safety of products coming from overseas. For some it's simply a little patriotism. "I believe in free enterprise and fair trade but I think people want America. They want to do well for America. They want to support it," says Kraut.
Economic experts say if the average American spends just $64 this holiday season it will create 200,000 American jobs.
The store hopes to soon offer local products too. It's located on Venice Avenue near the American Legion Post off Auburn Road, and is open seven days a week.