Buying American & COVID-19
2020 is Tough Traveler's 50th anniversary - a half-century of making great bags in the USA. So far, the year hasn't exactly gone the way we expected back in January. But one thing is for sure: The COVID-19 crisis has brought home to us the importance of continuing our manufacturing in America, using almost totally domestic materials. At the beginning of the pandemic, vital protective equipment necessary to keep regular people and medical workers safe was in short supply. Most of the essential PPE supplies were imported from other countries where wages and environmental standards are low and manufacturing is cheap, and those countries were restricting exports because they needed the medical supplies themselves. This was very reasonable of those countries, but it left our community and fellow citizens without the means to protect themselves and stay healthy!
Fortunately, we had materials, machines, and brave and talented sewers ready to go to work in our factory in Schenectady, NY. Within days of when it became apparent that all Americans should be wearing face masks - and a week before they became mandatory in our state - we had started production of masks. Our staff put in hours of overtime, came to work despite the risk when they had the option of staying home on unemployment, and even enlisted family members to help out so we could meet the need. And yes, every employee got a much-deserved pay raise.
When we were able to tell a frantic local mother that we could expedite an order for her daughter, a doctor in NYC, so that she could stay as safe as possible on her commute into work until she could get the proper sort of medical masks (our masks are not for medical use!), we knew we couldn't slack off.
Now that masks are more widely available, we are able to relax a little. We were glad to be able to fill an emergency need - and we still make masks! But we are happy to go back to mostly making the luggage, backpacks, handbags & duffels that we really specialize in.
We would like to ask you, our customer, to please buy your next pouch, backpack, or bag from us, so we can keep up our manufacturing and keep our staff employed. Maybe even buy something today (we hope you will! business conditions are still very difficult, and every purchase makes a difference)! And when you need anything, look for an American-made option. You'll pay more, but you'll probably like the quality and save money in the long run, and the reason prices are higher is because American manufacturers are held to higher standards of employment, safety, and environmental protection than those in other countries - things we know you support!
And, perhaps most importantly, you'll be helping ensure that next time we face an emergency, manufacturers will be here to fill the need.
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