Red, White and Blue Friday

LOS ANGELES — A woman trying to improve her chance to buy cheap electronics at a Walmart in a wealthy suburb spewed pepper spray on a crowd of shoppers and 20 people suffered minor injuries, police said Friday.

The attack took place about 10:20 p.m. Thursday shortly after doors opened for the sale at the Walmart in Porter Ranch in the San Fernando Valley.

The store had brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game players, and a crowd had formed to wait for the unwrapping, when the woman began spraying people "in order to get an advantage," police Sgt. Jose Valle said.

The above news item wins the CAMJ Black Friday Award for Number One Reason to Quit Buying Stuff Made in China: To avoid being pepper sprayed by some lunatic Christmas shopper hell-bent on buying a sale-priced Xbox. Just breathe deeply, walk on past the crowded electronics aisle, and go about your holiday shopping in a different, more peaceful way. It's like a form of meditation. I am walking past the electronics aisle. I don't need a new video game. I don't need a new flat screen TV. I am at one with minimalist consumerism, content to buy only products made here in the land of the free, home of the pepper-sprayed.

Which is fine and good until you are at one with yourself browsing your local Costco on a Black Friday afternoon and realize--your breath beginning to shorten, your palms ever-so-slightly wet--that China has hijacked all Christmas lights, bulbs and other decorations, ninety-nine-point-nine percent of all toys, all children's picture books, all DVDs, and about ninety-nine-point-nine percent of all apparel--adult, adolescent, child, baby, whatever. And so there you are, in the cookware aisle, mentally making a list and checking it twice, wondering if your seven-month-old grandbaby would like a 3-pack of Made in the U.S.A. heavy-gauge aluminum nonstick sauté pans. And you can see his wide, trusting, beautiful big blue eyes on Christmas Day as he looks at the sauté pans and then at you and thinks Bad Grandma.

And don't even think of reassuring me by saying "Maybe he'll grow up to be Tyler Florence, have his own cooking-related empire, and someday say 'My Grandma gave me my first set of sauté pans when I was seven months old.'" Please.

Insult to injury: I did buy the pans…for me. Bad, bad, bad Grandma. I also bought at Costco, for me / Don / the house, a fresh, heavenly smelling evergreen door wreath and a fresh cedar bough, both Made in the U.S.A. The good news: a one hundred percent Red, White and Blue / Patriotic Friday. The bad news: China Ate My Costco Christmas Presents.


Tomorrow is the second annual Small Business Saturday. The idea is to visit small, non-chain shops in your local area and throw some business their way. Small / local doesn't necessarily mean U.S.A.-made, however. A few days ago I stopped by a local shop in search of a Christmas stocking for my aforementioned grandbaby. In the past, the store has only sold handmade items. I found some seriously cute, unbelievably inexpensive stockings, but label after label inside said "Made in China." Technically handmade, I guess, by underpaid Chinese workers. No thanks.

One local store I've visited and highly recommend is Marine Layer on Chestnut Street in San Francisco. From the store's website:

Cue any of the 13 Toby Keith American Hero songs:

Over 95% of the clothing in this country is now made abroad. In a rare bit of feel good news, every step of our production process occurs in California. This minimizes our environmental footprint and supports 3 American factories that have been in business for over 25 years.

Yes, feel good news indeed. Thanks, Marine Layer. The company also sells its products online. If you live too far from S.F. to stop by in person, let your fingers do the walking on your keyboard on Small Business Saturday (or Cyber Monday).

I'll check out a few of the local businesses in our downtown on Saturday and will report back.

Enjoy your turkey leftovers!

PS: A company called Tramontina makes the 3-pack saute pans. The box states:

This cookware was proudly made and assembled by U.S. workers. Cookware vessels Made in the U.S.A. Handles Made in China. Designed, assembled and packaged in the U.S.A.

Sold at Costco for $23.99 + tax.