I enjoy supporting local businesses, especially independently owned and operated stores. To me, you can't beat the service and the experience. And, it just feels like the right thing to do. I'd much rather have my tax dollars support the city that I live in and love than some nameless/placeless suburb that fights St. Louis with TIFs and other incentives for the almighty sales tax revenue.
I am also an obsessive label/packaging reader when it comes to where things were made and what they are made of. So when I buy something, the amount of energy it took to get to the shelf is on my mind.
I try to buy locally or domestically when I can. I like products and goods that use recycled materials. It just makes sense to me on all levels.
I like American made stuff and the idea of America being a multi-faceted economy. We should be inventing, making, distributing, servicing, insuring and investing in all the above. I miss the days when things were made in U.S. factories in U.S. cities. I know not everyone wants or can get an advanced education, and I think manufacturing jobs can help provide for those who don't want to go past high school. I think these are proud jobs, and require just as much talent, training and care as many skilled professional jobs.
Anyhow, I'd like to talk up a couple local joints with American-made goods on the shelves. First is the amazingly cool Kleb's Clothing at 8529 South Broadway in the Patch neighborhood.
Carhart and Dickies work clothes. Unfortunately, these brands are no longer American made, but they are from North and Central America, so it's much less petro mileage than Chinese goods. The place has a "general store" vibe from the late 19th century. The owner is a former semi-pro wrestler who plied his trade at the South Broadway Athletic Club. They are super helpful, and will order your size or style if they don't have it in stock. This is a man's place and you will walk away with a totally different feel than going to a small town farm and fleet or a suburban discount store.
They do have some really cool 100% cotton denim, country cut work shirts that are made in the U.S.
If you like outdoors and work clothes that are classic, and not trendy, this is your place.
Secondly, I just discovered Hampton Shoe in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood, located on (you guessed it) 5101 Hampton Avenue. They carry shoes made in the U.S. They have the domestically produced line of New Balance athletic shoes as well as casual, outdoors and work shoes of several different brands...all made in the U.S.
I bought a pair of Chippewa boots made in Carthage, MO a mere 4.5 hour drive from St. Louis. There is a video of the factory and the manufacturing process here. Yes, they are more expensive than Chinese boots, but they will last as long as you can take care of them. They can be re-soled up to 3 times. Hampton Shoe does full repairs and is owned by an extremely helpful and knowledgeable local guy who's been in the city for many, many years.
If you like things that are built to last, and designed to buck the ebb and flow of popular trends, and are made/sold nearest your home check these places out.
I guarantee you'll have a better experience or story to tell than a trip to the national chain outlet or the suburban mall. And, you'll be supporting the great city of St. Louis.