If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve been following us for quite some time. We realize that you don’t just read our thoughts on a whim. You probably care about what we have to say. If that describes you, thanks for tracking with us. Really, we mean that.
Today, we wanted to take some time to discuss where we see the American made movement going and how it’s going to affect what we stock at Ellicott in the future. To give you some context, we’d like to first take you back to the beginning of the Ellicott vision.
How did Ellicott get started?
We trace our inspiration for Ellicott & Company back to a trip to Nashville in early 2012. We were there on business with a friend, who graciously showed us around town, and took us to the best restaurants and concert venues the city had to offer. One of our last stops was the flagship store of Imogene + Willie, an American made denim company founded in 2009. They operated out of a beautiful whitewashed vintage gas station just outside of downtown Nashville. The moment we stepped inside we were instantly enthralled. You know it’s magic when two Lancaster County boys both come home with a custom tailored pair of jeans that we had no business owning. That was the spark that started it for us, where we fell in love with the idea that quality goods could be made in the US and people did value things made in small batches, often by their neighbors down the street.
After that pivotal trip, we couldn’t shake the idea that we needed to bring a similar experience back to Lancaster. It was such an easy fit since Lancaster was already regionally known for quality and tradition, where tradesmen have been practicing for generations. We saw an opportunity to tell the Lancaster story and put our fantastic makers on display. By the fall of 2015, we brought our dream to life online and eventually established our retail store in the heart of downtown Lancaster. While American made wasn’t the only thing we wanted to stand for, it was certainly a primary ingredient.
What’s going on now?
From what we can see in recent trends, the American made movement is taking a new turn, mostly when it comes to apparel. This past year Topo Designs moved much of their production to Vietnam. For several years now Taylor Stitch has begun importing. It’s a similar story for many of the boutique brands that exploded in growth under this movement over the past 10 years and can no longer keep up with the demand if they only manufacture in the US. They desire to produce everything here, but are often forced to outsource due to quality issues and a lack of manufacturing infrastructure in this country. We certainly don’t blame them, it’s understandable that they want to serve their customers well and continue to grow their brand, but it raises a lot of questions for us. If we take the stance that we will only carry their US made items, we know the selection we have access to will only continue to decrease. If we decide to pursue other brands that are not outsourcing at all right now, we feel it’s only a matter of time before those brands will decide to import as well. Besides, companies like Topo Designs and Taylor Stitch are some of our favorite brands that we carry in the store. We can’t imagine not supporting them anymore.
Where is Ellicott heading?
To put it simply, we are going to adopt the phrase, “American Made Focused.” We feel this accurately depicts our desire to remain focused on American made products, while giving us the flexibility to continue to stock the brands our customers have come to love.
We realize this may cause a level of confusion or disappointment with our customers who appreciate our American made stance, but we feel it’s the best decision to be made for the future of our store. Let’s just be honest here. It’s hard—really hard—to remain 100% American made when some of our favorite American made manufacturers are starting to outsource their products.
How will you make decisions on what to stock?
Lens #1: Locally Made
First and foremost, we want to tell the stories of the hardworking people of Lancaster. If it’s made here, we don’t want to look elsewhere. Welsh Mtn Co. is a great example of a family that has grown their trade for generations, and are now applying their talents to create some of the highest quality leather goods in the area.
Lens #2: American Made
If we can’t source a quality item locally, we next look to the rest of the United States. We look for companies like P.F. Candle, one of the best candle and fragrance manufacturers in the US. Their scents are some of the most distinctive and memorable we’ve been able to find. It’s a company worth supporting for sure.
Lens #3: Ethically Made
If we really want to stock a product but it’s only available as an import, we’ll still consider it as long as we can confirm with the manufacturer or distributor that the product was made ethically and of the highest quality. Many boutique brands that are outsourcing still have a commitment to the things that matter, and we think it’s worth supporting their intention in this. Taylor Stitch, one of our favorite brands, recently switched to overseas production to meet their quality expectations, but have stayed committed to ethical manufacturing. You can read more about their stance and reasoning on Reddit.
Lens #4: Heritage Inspired
This is the last lens, but not the least. As much as we love local goods and American made goods, if they don’t fit our style, they don’t go in our store. We’re looking for things that have timeless style and classic good looks, where old meets new and rugged meets refined. It’s hard to put words to style, we’ll just do our best to live it out!
Are there any brands that are still 100% American Made?
Yes! In fact, almost all of our small goods are still made by folks right here in the US. Some of our favorites include Shwood Eyewear, Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., Smithey Ironware, Welsh Mtn Co., Calicutts Spice Co., Eastwest Bottlers, and P.F. Candle. In the footwear category, many companies are importing, but Red Wing and Thorogood are still producing their boots in the Midwest. For those that love American made, there are still many companies out there remaining true to their roots.
Where do you stand?
If you love American made products like us, then you still have a home here at Ellicott. You have our commitment that we will continue to stock the majority of our goods from US manufacturers. If you enjoy American made, but you value quality and style just as much, then you’re our kind of customer. We will always stock items that fulfill our goals of providing you with high-quality, heritage-inspired goods that keep you looking on point.
Wherever you stand, and whatever you value, we hope you continue to support Ellicott. We couldn’t do this without you! Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to give us feedback, suggest new brands you’d like to see us carry, or just to say hello. We’d love to hear from you.