Nothing screams Red, White and Blue quite like our nation’s capital and its famous museum and research complex, the Smithsonian. After a close encounter with the American history timeline and its artifacts, tourists both local and foreign usually visit the museum gift shop to purchase a souvenir. But what message do these tourists receive when they flip over their souvenirs to find a “Made in China” label? Sen. Bernie Sanders, says, “It seems to me that a museum owned by the American people, designed to express our history and our greatness, should be, to as great a degree as possible, selling products made by American workers,” a brilliant suggestion backed up by the threat of legislation. The Price of Freedom gift shop at the National Museum of American History was the first to heed the advice of Sanders, and although the Senator would like to see all of the Smithsonian’s gift shops sell American made products, this gift shop is a start.
Price of Freedom Gift Shop Proud to Provide Items Made by Americans
While still carrying some merchandise made overseas, The Price of Freedom gift shop, which generally focuses on military themed merchandise, has removed some popular items to make way for products from its newly acquired U.S. manufacturers and vendors. As USA Today reports, “About a third of the Smithsonian’s business comes from products made in this country, according to Becky Haberacker, a Smithsonian spokeswoman. Of the 90 new vendors the museums have added since March, 19 make their merchandise in the United States.” But, as Sanders asks, is this enough?
Proud of the Smithsonian’s efforts to promote and sell Made in USA products, Brent Glass, National Museum of American History director, comments, “I think we’re the first major museum gift shop to use exclusively made in America products.” Yet, there remains a sense of caution as the gift shop removes top selling but oversea made items, such as teddy bears in camouflage jackets. Also, the question has arisen, how expensive will this American made promotion be as American made products are more costly than those made overseas? Sanders tries to reassure the museum, saying, “American made merchandise is sometimes more expensive, but U.S. tourists will buy it as a way to boost jobs.”