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Tips on finding American-made gifts

It's not easy finding American-made gifts. Experts advise shopping online and at craft fairs or using specialty gift guides.

November 18, 2012|By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times

It's no easy task finding just the right holiday gift, especially one made in the USA.

"I'd like to buy handmade items or presents made in the U.S., but it's a challenge to find anything," said Denise Stark, a salesclerk from Redlands. "It's not as easy as going to the mall."

Shopping experts offer some tips for hunting down the perfect gift:

Look online: A simple Internet search will turn up plenty of sites selling made-in-the-USA items, and refining the search further with keywords can swiftly deliver the right Web retailer. These tend to be smaller companies and mom-and-pop shops, however, so don't expect the slick site designs and easy navigation tools of huge retailers and multinational corporations.

Craft fairs: Southern California plays host to several holiday craft fairs in December. Local artists, crafters and bakers offer delicious treats and sometimes uniquely beautiful clothing, accessories and tchotchkes. Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles is open Friday through Sunday every week. The Unique L.A. Holiday Show runs Dec. 1 and 2. And the Renegade Craft Fair is held Dec. 8 and 9.

L.A. fashion: Local designers are churning out holiday collections for every party in the calendar. Some, like American Apparel, have their own stores. But many, including denim maker Koral Los Angeles and Eva Franco, can be found through online vendors or at department stores.

Gift guides: A few groups dedicated to American manufacturing publish gift guides for the holidays. The Made in the USA Foundation in Los Angeles just released its "All American Holiday Buyers Guide." Even Esquire magazine's December issue includes helpful tips for buying presents that are U.S.-made.

Organizations dedicated to promoting the made-in-the-USA movement, such as or American Made Matters, also put out lists of products and the stores that carry them.

There are always items at your neighborhood mall, but it can often require a major hunt, since merchants rarely highlight those made in America. It sometimes helps to ask a clerk to point out the American-made products, experts say.

"If you're looking for clothes, you can go to a store like American Apparel, or for higher-end things go to a department store like Nordstrom," said Joel Joseph, chairman of the Made in the USA Foundation. "When you start talking about toys, it's easier to go online."

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