If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a hundred times – the supply chain is driving everyone crazy. Suppliers and distributors have been adding two to four weeks to delivery timelines as international COVID lockdowns, shipping slowdowns and port backlogs have made it harder to get imported goods.

Sourcing promo products made closer to home can help you get the goods faster – plus, you can tell customers you’re supporting American businesses and workers. A 2020 report from McKinsey suggests that brands need to ensure strong availability and convey value, and USA-made goods and apparel can help you do just that.

Also, as consumers become more aware of issues like sustainability and corporate social responsibility, the added transparency offered by domestic production makes “made in the USA” a great way to address those concerns under one umbrella.

“People really want to look toward something that they can feel good about and feel confident about, so people are increasingly looking for USA-made products,” says Alexandra Ketterling, e-commerce and brand marketing manager with California-based supplier Expert Brand. “Search results for USA products have greatly increased over the past couple years.”

Let’s take a look at three key benefits of opting for promo products made in the USA:

  1. Ease The Supply Chain Squeeze

With freight market challenges likely to affect promo into 2023, industry pros are finding new ways to get goods as quickly as they can. While domestic shipping comes with its own set of challenges, it’s still faster than the journey overseas.

“The biggest benefit from being made in the USA is that our response times are so much faster, because we know what we have, and we generally have it on the shelf,” says Patrick Napurski, owner and president of supplier IDLine (by Halls & Company). “It’s not trying to go through customs, it doesn’t need to make it through a port. It doesn’t need to go through something that might have unknown implications. We’ve been able to meet customers’ needs quicker because of that.”

  1. Keep An Eye On Quality And Consistency

Product quality and consistency are paramount in promo. In a survey conducted by the Reshoring Institute, a nonprofit industry group that supports manufacturing in the USA, almost half of the respondents said they believe that products manufactured in America are of better quality. Nearly 70% said they prefer American-made products, and nearly 85% said they would pay up to 20% more for products made domestically.

Ketterling thinks this perception has a lot to do with labor laws and the way workers are paid in the U.S. – specifically by the hour instead of by garment. To maximize performance and pay, piece workers may rush and compromise on quality.

“In our industry, we want a consistent product that provides brand value,” says Ketterling, “and if you have a bunch of irregular T-shirts, it doesn’t make your brand look good.”

From a customer service perspective, Napurski says USA-made items enable him to not only deliver orders quickly but with certainty that the products will meet expectations.

“I know what you’re going to get is exactly what we promised,” he says, “and we can prove it, fast.”

  1. Meet Customer Demand For CSR, Transparency

Corporate social responsibility is becoming a bigger piece of the puzzle, Napurski adds, and it’s challenging to stay on top of how foreign governments regulate manufacturing.

“We don’t have to worry about that because everything’s here,” he says, “so I think that ‘made in the USA’ badge really helps say, ‘Hey, we’ve checked our supply chain, we know where it’s going. We know what it’s doing, and we’re confident that A) we can get it to you really fast and B) we know where it’s been made.’”

You get a lot more transparency when your promo apparel is made in the USA, adds Ketterling, whether you’re looking at sustainability, product quality or labor practices.

“The magnifying glass is right here. There are regulations in place, and there are a lot of different third parties,” she says. “USA certification means more to us, it means more to a consumer, and it provides that assurance. People are concerned about who’s making their clothing and what their working conditions are.”

Check out these made in the USA options for promo apparel staples, from tees to hoodies to the classic baseball cap:

smiling man wearing heathered navy blue hoodie

Hoodies are an evergreen promo item. This V-neck long-sleeve Performance Heather Hoodie Shirt in a soft, lightweight microfiber blend offers a relaxed fit, moisture wicking and antimicrobial treatment to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Bluesign-certified eco-friendly dyes are recycled within a closed loop water system, and this company supplies physical training shirts for the U.S. Army, so you know they’re tough. Available in four colors (shown in dark heather navy) and sizes S-3X.

Expert Brand / PPAI 267226, S2 / www.ExpertBrand.com

man wearing red baseball raglan shirt with charcoal gray sleeves

As American as Mom, apple pie and – baseball shirts? Raglan shirts in contrasting colors call to mind the national pastime, and this American Apparel 50/50 Raglan Three-Quarter Sleeve Tee, made in the USA of 50/50 polyester/combed ringspun cotton comes in a whopping 30 color combinations (shown in heather gray/red) and sizes XS-2X.

S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12 / www.ssactivewear.com

man wearing red T-shirt

Blank T-shirts are a staple of promo apparel, and the Bayside Made In USA Heavyweight 6.1 Oz. Unisex Crew is fabricated from 100% pre-shrunk USA-grown cotton in an eco-friendly factory in California. Available in 33 colors (shown in red) and sizes S-6X.

Bayside Made in America / PPAI 213725, S4/ www.usabayside.com

woman wearing cadet blue ladies tee shirt

T-shirts designed specifically for women are also a hot item, and this Women’s Organic Fine Jersey Short-Sleeve Crew Tee Shirt offers softness and comfort with 100% combed ringspun organic cotton and a tear-away label Complies with Global Organic Textile Standard. Available in eight colors (shown in blue) and sizes XS-3X.

Royal Apparel / PPAI 269959, S1 / www.royalapparel.net

man wearing olive green jacket

Weather varies from sea to shining sea, and Carhartt’s Shoreline Jacket is made in the USA for rainy days. Sweat can get out, but rain can’t get in, thanks to the waterproof breathable membrane inside a nylon oxford shell with durable water repellent. The jacket comes with a snap-on visored hood with drawcord. Available in olive green (shown), black or navy blue, sizes S-4X.

SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16 / www.sanmar.com

  custom printed yellow socks with black heels and toes and green tennis ball pattern

Go American from head to toe with these custom polyester Athletic Crew Socks. Decorate with your own four-color process, all-over print. One size fits most (8-12), unisex. 

Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S13 / www.hitpromo.net

off-white plain cotton baseball cap

Pair this soft Solid Eyelets Brushed Velcro Dad Cap with the raglan baseball tee above for classic American casual style. The 100% cotton hat is union-made in New Jersey. Available in 21 colors (shown in putty).

Unionwear / PPAI 111926, S1 / www.unionspecialties.com