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What Does "Made in the USA" Really Mean?

by Nick, Digital Specialist | July 22, 2021

One common question we get from our customers relates to if their furniture is made in the US. That can mean a lot of different things- this article breaks down what that might mean!

“Is this made in America?”

This is a question we get from our customers all the time, and unfortunately the answer is frequently more than a simple “yes” or “no”. We understand that it’s important to many people to support American companies and American manufacturing, but there’s a distinction between a label that says “Made in the USA” versus one that might say something else. Here are some common labels that you might see:

- Made in the USA/Made in America: This is the gold standard- this means that the components are virtually all American-made, and that the final piece is assembled in the US as well. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a “negligible” amount of the components may be sourced from outside the US.

- Made in the USA of Imported (& Domestic) Components: This product was assembled in the United States but some parts had to be sourced from other countries. In some cases, some components are just tough to find in the US (wool for rugs is a good example), but if this label is present, the product was assembled in the US.

- Assembled in the USA: notice the distinction here. This piece was made of materials that come from overseas but have undergone a “significant” transformation in a factory in the US for assembly. In this case, “significant” means that it’s more than just someone putting a few screws into a piece to put it together.

- Finished in the USA: In this case, your furniture is assembled overseas and then shipped to the US for final assembly (“just a few screws,” as in the example above) or a coat of paint. Some American factory workers are involved in finishing the product, but only at the end of the process.

- Made of American/North American/Domestic Hardwood: this is an interesting one. In this case, American lumber is shipped from the US to a manufacturing plant overseas, where the furniture is then assembled and then shipped back. As you might imagine, this creates a fairly large carbon footprint, but does keep some American workers involved in the process.

- Designed in the USA: In this case, the design is where the American involvement ends- these products may be designed in the US, but are manufactured entirely overseas.

Other labels you may find include American Company, American Craftsmanship, Built with American Pride, or labels that feature an American flag or other American symbol. These labels aren’t regulated and don’t mean anything in particular.

There are a number of benefits to buying American-made; in addition to supporting local manufacturing and local jobs, American furniture tends to have better quality, and their companies take more steps to being more sustainable. In addition, due to the made-to-order nature of this furniture, it is generally easier to customize your furniture. American furniture is also less prone to delays since it isn’t shipped as far and isn’t necessarily at the mercy of the logistics of international shipping across an entire ocean.

However, the biggest detractor to American furniture: the price. Imported furniture tends to be less expensive, sometimes significantly so, so American furniture is always going to be more expensive. For many, the idea that they are able to support American workers and American industries is worth the premium that must be paid.

If you’re looking for American-made furniture, we hope this article has cleared up some of the mysteries surrounding its labeling. Happy shopping!