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The Job Interview: Made in the U.S.A.: An all-American couple, business

  • Aime Jacques (right) and Dan Moore (left) co-own Big Dan's All-American Store; Wednesday, March 20, 2012. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Aime Jacques (right) and Dan Moore (left) co-own Big Dan's All-American Store; Wednesday, March 20, 2012.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • Aime Jacques and Dan Moore co-own Big Dan's All-American Store; Thursday, March 21, 2012. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Aime Jacques and Dan Moore co-own Big Dan's All-American Store; Thursday, March 21, 2012.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • Dan Moore (left)  chats with his customer David Kimball (right) at Moore's store Big Dan's All-American Store which he co-owns with his girlfriend Aime Jacques; Thursday, March 21, 2012. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Dan Moore (left) chats with his customer David Kimball (right) at Moore's store Big Dan's All-American Store which he co-owns with his girlfriend Aime Jacques; Thursday, March 21, 2012.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • American made wooden toys at Big Dan's All-American Store; Thursday, March 21, 2012. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    American made wooden toys at Big Dan's All-American Store; Thursday, March 21, 2012.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

  • Aime Jacques (right) and Dan Moore (left) co-own Big Dan's All-American Store; Wednesday, March 20, 2012. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • Aime Jacques and Dan Moore co-own Big Dan's All-American Store; Thursday, March 21, 2012. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • Dan Moore (left)  chats with his customer David Kimball (right) at Moore's store Big Dan's All-American Store which he co-owns with his girlfriend Aime Jacques; Thursday, March 21, 2012. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • American made wooden toys at Big Dan's All-American Store; Thursday, March 21, 2012. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

Dan Moore and Aime Jacques are as American as hotdogs at the ballpark on the Fourth of July.

The Grafton couple, who own Big Dan’s retail store in Bristol, sell American products only, and they want to change how consumers in this country shop.

“This is our political statement,” said Moore, who drove a tractor-trailer and delivered medical supplies before opening the business 14 months ago. “The store, the concept of selling American products and America, is what we stand for.”

The idea evolved 10 years ago, shortly after Moore and Jacques began dating, when Moore bought an American flag at a Walmart and saw a label on it that read, “Hecho en China,” Spanish for made in China.

“It planted an idea,” Moore said. “I asked myself what else is like this? I realized it’s really hard to find American stuff.”

Merchandise at Big Dan’s includes tie-dye shirts, aprons, purses, beaded jewelry, denim jeans, belt buckles, children’s toys, socks, knitwear, hats, bake ware, puzzles and more.

Business hasn’t been great, which is why Moore had to leave early during this interview for a job interview with a nearby sealing technology company. Before leaving, he said, “We’re barely paying the bills, it’s barely paying for itself. I thought it was a good time when we opened, but sometimes I don’t think we’re ready to be self supportive as a country.

“We’re a society of convenience,” Moore continued. “You can go into a Walmart and get whatever you want. I’m not against that, but you’re supporting a corporate giant, buying things not from here.”

Moore then left, at which time Jacques gave a tour of the store and explained why they do what they do.

The flag at Walmart said, in Spanish, “Made in China?”

Yes. We’re even outsourcing our American flags. Just like we outsourced our uniforms at the Olympics. Remember that?

Do your customers make a conscious effort, as Americans, to shop here?

The people who set foot through that door are people who want to be here. We have people who say, “Are you kidding? Walmart? We ban Walmart.” It doesn’t mean I don’t like someone from China, and it doesn’t mean I don’t like someone from Canada. It means I’m for the person from my own backyard.

Do we need to change our consumer mind-set in this country?

I think there are a lot of people here who think about it now. There are a lot of people who are now all over this made-in-America thing.

Anything special about those blue jeans?

It’s 100 percent American cotton, grown in Texas. The buttons and zippers are cast in Ohio. That’s good U.S. brass.

How about those blue jeans over there?

Made at the Oregon prison correctional facility. The prisoners interview for those jobs, and what they earn goes to pay the bills they have, and anything extra goes into an account for when they leave.

Do you distribute any New Hampshire products?

Those denim purses are made here in New Hampshire. The knitted booties, socks and sweaters were made in Alexandria and Claremont. The beaded necklaces were made in Bristol and I made some of them, too.

The bumper stickers on your truck support Barack Obama, reject George W. Bush, support Ron Paul, and promote small government and American manufacturing. You seem to have a large tapestry of beliefs, traditionally tied to both ends of the political spectrum. Who are you?

I don’t label people and I don’t label myself. If I say I’m a Democrat and I don’t say this or that, the Democrats will say, “You’re not a Democrat.”

Are you a Democrat?

I’m an independent or a libertarian.

What is your political philosophy?

American people don’t necessarily believe in American government as much as they believe in the American people themselves.

We need to get people off the streets and back to work and worry about here. That’s what’s wrong with this government: We feel we can go overseas and tell other countries what to do.

How do your business and politics connect?

The whole idea is jobs, jobs, jobs. If I have a political statement, then that’s it.

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@
cmonitor.com
or on Twitter
@rayduckler
.)

For me earthling, the death of manufacturing in the US can be attributed to a few factors beyond just wages. Trade Deficits has a huge impact. EPA has a huge impact. Lack of innovation to compete with foreign countries. Unions have gotten greedy, not so much in wages, but in benefits. They have also lead to a mediocre product because of their refusal to allow lousy workers to be fired, thus producing a product that is mediocre at best. We see that with education, state services, and the fact that Dems are for hiring more govt workers and creaing bigger ineffective govt. Lots of reasons in my book why manufacturing left.

"Unions have gotten greedy, not so much in wages, but in benefits", like health insurance benefits as one example? "EPA has a huge impact" - I think China is the world leader on solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing and development. I do agree with you to some extent although I'm for significantly cutting spending for both government and business by nationalizing health care. I bet you agree with me about the CM sign in process: #%@$&^*!

US manufacturers pay a lot for health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Chinese manufacturers pay for none of these costs. Lower cost socialized health care in China is paid for through a national sales tax and an income tax, both of which do not factor into the prices of Chinese products. The Chinese sales tax applies to all products sold in China, including US products with prices already inflated with US health care costs. Why wouldn't we want to stop soaking US manufacturers for health care? Why wouldn't we want to spread some of our cost of national health care over all foreign and domestic products sold here through a national sales tax? This imbalance that favors imports has been going on for far too long. Why wouldn't we want to level the playing field in order to bring our jobs back? The usual response to this question includes fear of waiting for health care - maybe those usual responders haven't experienced the long waits in emergency rooms full of people with no health insurance.

Very nice effort but my guess is that it won't be successful long term. The cost of goods to manufacture everything in the United States is just too high.

"The cost of goods to manufacture everything in the United States is just too high" in no small part because our manufacturers are soaked for health care insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That's why we need to realign how we fund our social programs with how the rest of the world funds their programs. Our methods worked in the 1950s when most of the products on our shelves were made in America, but they don't work now, obviously. Guns, bibles, focusing like a laser on the women and gays, cutting spending, and cutting taxes (the Republican proposals in a nutshell) certainly won't solve our outsourcing problems.

This is a great concept. I've been hoping that a large retailer would take the plunge and start a newly branded store selling American-only merchandise. I think it would work. I also try to avoid Walmart and buy American-made products. But it's really tough--or even impossible sometimes. Best of luck to this couple.

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