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Local retailer sponsoring event highlighting U.S.-made products

By Donna Goodison
Thursday, October 11, 2012

An “all-American” pop-up market is headed to Boston’s South End this month.

Thirty-plus vendors will sell made-in-the-USA clothing, footwear and accessories at the Oct. 20-21 “American Field” event at the old power station building at 540 Harrison Ave.

Ball and Buck, a Boston retailer of U.S.-made men’s fashions, is hosting the free event.

“It’s kind of a full American experience,” founder Mark Bollman IV told the Herald. “The whole goal is to take this momentum building behind the made-in-the-USA movement and the pride behind the made-in-the-USA label … and highlight the (companies) doing their part by keeping manufacturing here and making great products in the USA.”

If every consumer spent 5 percent more on U.S.-made goods, it would create a million domestic jobs and help the domestic economy, said Bollman, who sits on the board of American Made Matters, an Adamstown, Pa., group trying to educate consumers about how buying U.S.-made products impacts the country.

American Field also will include food trucks, live music from six bands, laser engraving of sunglasses by Randolph Engineering, workers hand-sewing shoes from Maine’s Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters, and Ball and Buck’s own in-store barber giving hot shaves.

Sterlingwear of Boston, which has made the official U.S. Navy pea coat since 1968 and has men’s and women’s retail lines, will be among the vendors. The company makes all of its clothing in East Boston.

There’s been a surge in awareness of the value of American-made products, according to marketing director Jack Foster.

“You hear it in the political debates, and the younger group (is) starting to become more aware of it because they see it with their parents losing their jobs, losing their homes,” he said. “We’ve been banging the drum for the last 10 years, trying to get people to wake up and notice that it’s not a good thing to send everything offshore.”

Fall River’s Frank Clegg Leatherworks also will sell its products at American Field. In business since 1970, owner Frank Clegg says he’s witnessed various “made in America” movements over the years.

“Every time things get bad, they always come out and want things made in the U.S.,” Clegg said. “I hope it continues, and it’s back to stay. I always like to promote the fact that we’re in the states, and we struggle to make that happen.”

Bollman, meanwhile, hopes American Field can become an annual event that’s duplicated in other cities. “I think it’s as comfortable in Boston as it would be in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta,” the 25-year-old Babson College grad said.