U.S. Museum Opens 'Made in America' Gift Shop


Forget the "Made in China" snow globes packed with a miniature White House or cheap T-shirts, mugs and dog tags: a new museum gift shop is intent on selling only items that are made in the USA.

After Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders complained that Washington's many publicly-funded museums all sold souvenirs of American history made outside the United States -- most often in made in China -- the National Museum of American History rose to the challenge.

A new boutique known as the "Price of Freedom," named after a military exhibit, has begun offering some 300 domestically-produced objects.

The selection is small compared with the 3,000 or so items available in other gift stores, where almost all of the items are made overseas.

The "Made in the U.S." criteria meant lots of items would not be available, explained Linda St. Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Smithsonian Institute, which includes several of Washington's most famous museums.

"In order to provide only 'Made in the US' products, we had to remove popular items like affordable teddy bears in camouflage jackets," she added.

"There are many items that people like -- dog tags, magnets and various other little items that are actually not made in the U.S. -- and you can't find a U.S. manufacturer, so we will never be able to make a full conversion."

St. Thomas said even busts of US presidents, while sold by an American company, are produced in China. Once the inventory runs out, she said, "They will be replaced by busts that have been made in this country."

Price, however, will always remain an issue.

"We now offer a 'Made in America' mug, customized and handmade, which retails for $20," she said. "In other Smithsonian Museum stores, mugs cost an average of $10 to $12."