Richard Russo has seen more than his fair share of new products in his career with the National Hardware Show. And in recent years, he's seeing an increasing number of made-in-the-USA products along with research indicating the trend is real.
"It came up pretty strong in our research," said Russo, director of the National Hardware Show. "Made in the USA was trending strong on the consumer side. And the retailers were clearly interested in what we at the National Hardware Show would be able to expose them to at the event."
Based on the feedback and the trends, this year's show in Las Vegas May 1 to 3 will offer a little more red, white and blue, he said. For the first time at the show, a "Made in the USA Pavilion" will showcase domestic-made products, which will also be marked throughout the exhibit floor with banners. (Sponsoring the pavilion, appropriately, is the Made in the USA Brand and Logo Certification Mark.)
Determining what companies pass the made-in-the-USA test is part art, part science, with some subjectivity involved. For the purposes of the National Hardware Show, Russo described a combination of criteria from various groups, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce. "We're not the judge and jury of what is made in the USA," Russo said. "But what we're going to do is provide full disclosure of what that product is." In a nutshell, if 80% or more of a product is manufactured domestically, it counts.
The changes have some positive feedback from retailers and attendees, Russo said. And vendors are knocking on the door for inclusion. So far, 65 companies are in the pavilion, and the show expects about 100 will be showcased in May.
There are many causes for the interest? Russo points to pocketbook patriotism. "There is definitely a correlation between the decline in the economy and consumer interest in doing whatever they can to boost the domestic economy. This pavilion has given us an opportunity to showcase our made-in-the-USA products to give the retailers the opportunity to make that choice."