Hanging Out at Target with Mrs. O

Did you hear? First Lady Michelle Obama and I went shopping today. Not together, sad to say. She went to her local Target in Alexandria, Virginia. I went to my local Home Depot, about an hour from San Francisco. Two women on different coasts indulging in a little retail therapy. I had my motives, she had hers.

Just guessing, but I'm pretty sure the First Lady was trying to do damage control. Last week she wore diamond bracelets valued at over $40,000 to a New York Democratic Party shindig. As word got out, snarky tongues wagged that it was inappropriate for her to do so during a recession. Well, let me just state that CAMJ supports Mrs. O's choice. The gorgeous cuff bracelets, stacked atop each other, were designed by Katie Decker of Houston, Texas. Ms. Decker just graduated from Texas A & M two years ago. Now, thanks to our First Lady, she's hit the big time. If Mrs. O wants to show off an American jewelry-maker's talent, it's fine by me. More bling power to her.

To appease the naysayers--as I said, guessing here--Mrs. O ran into Target for a few things today, just like middle class soccer moms across America. Photos show her in a Nike baseball cap, sunglasses, blouse and jeans, hauling a couple of huge plastic bags of goodies. While some would say the story ends here, I say it's just the beginning. If we peeked inside those bags, how much of that loot would've been Made in the U.S.A.? Unless Mrs. O was buying dozens of bottles of Urine Gone! for the family pooch's accidents, I'd say very little indeed. You may recall that Urine Gone! was about the only U.S.A.-made product I could find at Target shortly after I began this journey last January 1st (by the way, the stuff really works).

And this brings me to why I'm so sad Mrs. Obama and I weren't in fact shopping together. Had we been, I could've casually suggested she look at the labels of some of the things she wanted to buy: cute tops and skirts and flats for Malia and Sasha, perhaps, or workout clothes for herself. "See? This is what I'm talking about," I'd say. "All these things are made in China or Vietnam or Singapore or wherever. Nothing's made here anymore. We need to do something about it." And she would've nodded and called over the secret service people.

But if she didn't, I would tell her she could set such an amazing example for the American people. She could do exactly the same thing--tell the press about her planned shopping trip--but have them follow her as she looked all over Target for apparel Made in the U.S.A. And when she couldn't find one single thing, as a consolation prize for her dedication, I would take her over to the cosmetics section and let her choose a Chapstick, since it's still made here. "Gee, thanks," she would say, and then, after paying for the Chapstick and dropping it in her purse, she would leave Target empty-handed. When the press asked why she didn't have more purchases, she could say, "Because I couldn't find anything that was manufactured here, and I want to show support for all those folks in the Rust Belt, and all those folks who've lost jobs due to offshoring."

Then I guess the you-know-what would really hit the fan back at the White House spin room, wouldn't it? But the average American would, I think, rise up and applaud, truly grateful someone in a position of power had the courage to Just Say No to Imports.

And as for my shopping trip at Home Depot, you already know my motive. I'm happy to report I found some great U.S.A.-made items. Don / Richie C and I are finally cleaning out our garage so that we can get both cars into it. We're determined to do so before winter. Scraping ice off the cars just isn't fun. Truth be told, Don / Richie C's always been such a gentleman about it, I've rarely been the one with my car on the driveway. But after today's purchases, we're one step closer to parking both cars in the garage. And I owe a huge thanks to the companies that made it possible. Sterilite Corporation of Townsend, Massachusetts manufactures the dozens of plastic storage bins I bought. And Edsal Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois makes the heavy duty shelving I purchased. Who says America doesn't make things anymore? Sure we do. We make plastic bins. We make shelving. You just have to look. And it's such a great feeling to pay for things we need, knowing our purchases will benefit workers in the U.S.A.

Ok, I'll admit it would've been more fun to fly out to meet Mrs. O and go shopping for bling. But I don't have $40,000 burning a hole in my Purse Peddlers tote, and with my luck Mrs. O would say, "I'm going to Target, you want to come along?"

I'd reply, "How 'bout we hit Home Depot? Have you seen Sterilite's plastic bins? They're pretty cool." And maybe this time the secret service wouldn't come running.