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Posted on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Saline man's new website promotes buying American-made goods, even if they cost a little bit more

By Ben Freed

Saline resident Mark Schlicher is basing his new business on the belief that many Americans, like Toby Keith’s father, will “spend a little more in the store for a tag in the back that says U.S.A.”

Schlicher launched his website,, Nov. 20 with the goal of increasing people’s access to American-made goods.


Schlicher said he thinks people will be willing to pay more for American made products if it leads to more good American jobs.

Courtesy Mark Schlicher

“My wife and I have always made an effort to seek out and purchase American-made products,” he said.

“There have been fewer available in local stores so we started to look online. I bet people like me would buy American if they knew where to buy, so the goal was to create a virtual store where people could go to find what they’re looking for.”

The site is as much a philosophical endeavor for Schlicher as an economic one.

“It’s about promoting our own way of life,” he said.

“We’re seeing our manufacturing base leave oversees and because of that our middle class continues to shrink, and I think that’s directly related to our buying habits. We decided we were willing to trade our opportunities for middle class manufacturing jobs in exchange for cheaper products.”

DesignHub, an online and print design firm in Saline, created the website for Schlicher who said he set aside $15,000 to personally invest in the site.

He plans for the website to generate revenue by eventually charging a small fee for vendors to earn a spot in the virtual store.

“I will never charge the consumers for coming onto the site,” Schlicher said.

“I’m linking the consumers directly with the manufacturer and they will pay through their website. Initially there won’t be any payment for vendors to be listed on the site, and after 90 days I hope to be able to show them that there’s value in being on and ask them for a nominal fee.”

The virtual store, which is designed to look like a physical store with a virtual facade entrance, has a number of departments for shoppers to choose from including outdoor gear, footwear, and appliances.

There initially were 51 vendors listed on the site, with more being added weekly as they are referred to Schlicher.

Many of the new vendors come from emails from customers pointing him towards more American-made products.

Using Google analytics to track his progress, Schlicher said his store has seen consistent growth since its launch, and a 300 percent spike after he sent out a press release earlier in December.

“Michigan is the center where our most clicks are because I’ve done a lot of word of mouth type advertising here,” he said.

“But I have people clicking in from Texas, California, all over the Coasts and the Southeast now. I’m seeing it grow every day and it’s really just through word of mouth and social media.”

Schlicher, whose current primary job is as a partner in a Saline technology firm, said he hopes to possibly branch out of the virtual world in the future.

“The name ‘I Buy American Store’ explains exactly what it is and it gives the consumer the idea that this is not about a single product, but a storefront where you can find whatever you need,” he said.

“Eventually we could have a physical brick-and-mortar ‘I Buy American Store.'"

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Linda Peck

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Another store that sells all US goods is Heavenly Metal, Vicki Honeyman's shop in Kerrytown. There was an article recently about her shop here.

Jeffersonian Liberal

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

He is more than welcome to do so, however I will not be purchasing anything made by the Goonions. I do not invest in any companies that received stimulus or supported the Marxist in the last election.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Mr. Schlicher would be well-served to use a portion of his funds towards educating himself on the subject of economics. He will learn about the fallacy behind the "Buy American" charade. There is no overall economic benefit derived form purchasing american made goods vs. those produced in foreign countries. That view is a falsehood that was debunked over two centuries ago. Unfortunately, some ideas simply refuse to die.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

It appears that the class is going to fill up fast. Add dancinginmysoul and OLDTIMER3 to the roster. They have both displayed an obvious misunderstanding of economics. Wow!


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Why do you think it is a charade? If you buy products manufactured in foreign countries most of the profit goes to those foreign countries ,not the USA.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

I'm not really sure that lessons in commerce and trade from over 200 years ago is relevant in this context. There wasn't a free market economy.

music to my ear

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

but I also hear some products are made in other countries shipped to America and relabel I am sure this is fraud, how do we know? and mark great ideal good luck.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

I have bookmarked the site. And I will contact Mr. Schlicher about a couple venues I don't see listed.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

This reminds me of Hiller's when they started to mark products "Made in Michigan" in their ads and on their shelves. I always appreciated that effort as a shopper and resident who watched this state suffer in the downturn. There can be power in mobilizing business efforts like this.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

Well I was about to get on him about how he was going to make money off this without charging vendors....but he's going about it the right way. He's going to first PROVE the value of his service....THEN ask for payment for continued service. Good on him. We need more people to view business from his perspective....we REALLY do.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

I love this site and this man for developing it, I order six gifts there already this morning, most items we're even sale priced! In a county where everyday I see more Foreign cars, this is great. How can one in their right mind buy Foreign when American made products are available? Do as you may as this is still a FREE Country, but if you love this country participate in its Growth or Leave it! He should get a tax break for doing such a good deed, please help to spread the word!


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

I love the site as well, and encourage people to buy American whenever possible. I would expect American brands to make their stuff in America, but that is not always the case. You may "buy American" but be supporting Mexico, Japan and Brazil. It's not as clear cut as many may think. Most "American made" cars 1. 2012 Toyota Avalon? Assembled: Georgetown, Ky. ? Percentage Made In U.S.: 85% 2. 2012 Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana? Assembled: Wentzville, Mo. ? Percentage Made In U.S.: 82% 3. 2012 Toyota Sienna? Assembled: Princeton, Ind. ? Percentage Made In U.S.: 80% 3. 2012 Toyota Sienna? Assembled: Princeton, Ind. ? Percentage Made In U.S.: 80%


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Great idea! I saw the website does not have Stormy Kromer, the outdoor cap and clothing made in Ironwood, MI in the Upper Peninsula. I just got a new Stormy Kromer Mackinac coat and it is warm and well made.

Blue Marker

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

These folks are the Anti-Sam Walton's and I love it! Keeping your money close to home makes sense. It's not only the items you buy but where you buy them. i.e. going to Stadium Hardware vs. Lowe's or going to Busch's vs. Kroger.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

This site will get my attention. One of the nice things about buying US made products is they don't break within 15 minutes of purchase. Most anything I ever purchased from Walmart or any other discount outlet that is "made in China" has a very short useful life, required me to repair, or is less than anticipated. So the idea that you are "paying more" is wrong. You really do get what you pay for in that instance. Only as costs rise do products improve. Witness Japan. In the 1960s, "made in Japan" was even more of a joke than "made in China". However, the quality rose impressively (thanks to an American named Deming) but so too did the prices on the products. Why send money overseas looking for quality where it's either wanting or costs as much as in the USA when you can keep the money here. Washington needs to develop a manufacturing policy that promotes and encourages production and manufacturing of products in the US while protecting patents and trade rights.

music to my ear

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Washington,needs to start a business the people will own it, we dont get payed but the people who work there can, the money can stay in the bank, and it will grow we can have our own American company sell american products to the foreign companies or u. s. a. we have alot of money that they Washington sends over seas leave our money here start a business, with the people for thepeople.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

I agree but then we voted the same way I'm sure. Thanks


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

It's a really nice and noble idea. Those struggling financially or who just don't give a s*** will continue to buy the cheapest item available to fit their need. I wonder how much of a dent in the latter behavior this kind of website and philosophy will make?

Bob W

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

I agree. Many families are struggling financially and every penny counts. For all others, have at it.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

Hip, hip hooray and good for you. If we all supported USA made products it would increase out economy greatly. Think local, buy local is another way of looking at it. Support USA goods and especially Michigan made products. Thank you and will be visiting your site.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.

Gas stations should also post who owns the stations. "AMERICAN OWNED"


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Actually MOST gas stations publish the name of the owner somewhere near the entrance. Look above the entrance or read whatever is painted on the door next time you go into a gas station. And yes....MOST of the names of the owners I've seen have "ethnically middle eastern" names. That doesn't mean they're not an American though.....


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

What evidence do you have that gas stations are owned by people who are not Americans?!


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 11:33 a.m.

We buy American too. Always look @ the labels & research on line, including food labels.

Blue Marker

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

Reading a Del Monte canned peaches label I was surprised to find out the peaches were not from the US. I live 12 hours away from Geogia and my peaches are imported. Go figure.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

Great Idea!