Building America, one purchase at a time
By late 2008, Mike Petro had seen enough. It was, for many, the height of the financial mess in this country, marked by bank failures, mortgage crisis, and bailouts; in his view, the financial structure of the United States was teetering on the brink.
“Middle-class workers were taking out home equity loans to pay bills because they were maxed out on their credit cards; their 401(k) plans were shrinking,” Petro said.
In his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, he said, six General Motors plants closed, jettisoning thousands of mostly middle-class workers.
Petro said something needed to change. In response, he and business partner Dennis Cunningham drew plans to create the All American Store, where every item sold would be made or assembled in the United States.
“We wanted to create a company where people came to a central location and bought products made by Americans at American-made companies,” Petro said.
It took well over a year for Petro to compile — and vet for authenticity — the list of manufacturers who could supply an 8,000-sq.-ft. store in Brookville, Ohio, with everything from nails and screws to blue jeans. “It was a difficult search,” he said.
The first All American Store opened in April 2010. There are now two locations in Ohio and business is good, Petro said.
"We are very unique in having only U.S.-made products," Petro said. “Every time a customer comes into our store and purchases a product, we say, ‘Thanks for buying American; we’d like you to know you are supporting fellow Americans.’ ”
Though the All American Store has a wide variety of items, one constant is its “Made in the USA” label, which supports Petro’s goal of building-up the country’s work force. "We are here for the American workers, for the families they have to support and for the communities in which they live, in the greatest country in the world."
Since starting his venture, Petro has garnered a great deal of favorable attention. He said one story attracted 20,000 hits to the company website, allamericanstore.us, within a 72-hour span. “The business definitely has grown in the two years — it makes you feel good,” he said.
Petro’s goal is to have The All American stores in every U.S. state and to eventually take the company public. “We’re getting inundated with requests for franchising opportunities,” he said.
Petro said if efforts like his can retain or create jobs in the United States, “I think we can impact the quality of life of the everyday person of this country. That’s the whole focus of this company.”
Lowe’s to open second store in Saskatchewan
Home improvement retailer Lowe’s is moving ahead with its Canadian expansion, planning a new store for Blairmore, a city near Saskatoon, according to an article in the Star Phoenix. The will be Lowe’s second store in the western province of Saskatchewan.
Blairmore developer SmartCentres has applied to the city for a zoning amendment to reduce the required number of parking stalls required for a home improvement store. Alan Wallace, manager of planning and development with the City of Saskatoon, said SmartCentres has not told him who is coming.
"They just say it is a large format home improvement store," said Wallace.
But city councillor Ann Iwanchuk confirmed that the retailer will be Lowe’s.
Saskatchewan’s first Lowe’s store opened last September in Regina. It has a 103,000 sq. ft. footprint with an additional 3200 sq. ft. garden center. There are currently 16 Lowe’s stores in Canada.
‘Plug and play’ solar now available from Westinghouse
Westinghouse Solar has launched a fully integrated “plug and play” solar panel system that can be installed without racking and panel-to-panel wiring. “Instant Connect” operates via a set of UL-approved electrical connectors that are integrated directly into the sides of each solar panel, allowing them to automatically plug together when mounted on the roof.
The frames of the solar panels — and splices used to connect the solar panels together — provide precision alignment of the electrical connectors, completely eliminating the need to manually wire panels or struggle with custom cabling on the roof. According to Westinghouse’s estimates, the new system will reduce installation costs by 50%.
Electricians, HVAC contractors and skilled DIYers can install the Instant Connect system, Westinghouse said. Homeowners can start with just one or two panels and later easily add onto the system
Westinghouse Solar introduced the industry’s first solar panel to integrate racking directly into the solar panel itself in 2007 and the industry’s first UL-approved AC solar panel in 2009. Instant Connect extends the product line with a plug-and-play offering that eliminates cumbersome panel-to-panel wiring for both residential AC systems and commercial DC systems. Westinghouse Solar Power Systems are available at both Home Depot and Lowe’s.