It was Christmas of 2012, and John and Amanda McGrew decided that they were going to accept the “All America Challenge.” That meant that every gift they bought had to have one thing going for it – it had to have been made in the good ol’ US of A. They were successful in their endeavor, had a blessed holiday, and a few years later decided to start Homeland Trading, which is located at the intersection of Forrest and Hwy 31 in Athens, right near CVS Pharmacy. The address is 1207 East Forrest Street.
It was July of 2015 when they opened up shop, and I have rarely seen a harder working and more determined set of entrepreneurs. They both have other full-time jobs in the construction fields, and for two years have put everything into Homeland in order to make it a go. The good news is that on July 14, they are throwing a birthday party as well as an anniversary sale, and you are invited! Amanda said, “There will be a storewide markdown of 20%, and refreshments will be served.” (The 20% does not apply to items that have already been reduced.)
The McGrews have always made it clear that they are not opposed to imports, they just have felt that things were out of balance, and America was coming up on the short end of the stick when it comes to jobs and the economy in general. “So many people think that Wranglers are made in America, and they aren’t, except for just a tiny high-end part of the line,” said Amanda. Wrangler is not the only one whose attempts to appear “all-American” are confusing. Carhartt produces most of their clothing in Mexico, and Levis also produce just a very high-end line items here in America. Their “American-made jeans” are a whopping $150 apiece, and this unfortunately perpetuates the misunderstanding that if you “buy American” you are going to be paying through the nose. Homeland Trading Company carries two lines, Roundhouse and Union Line, which are more than reasonably priced. One customer said, “This is how my Carhartts used to fit,” and loves the quality. Amanda said, “Even if a customer isn’t a ‘part of the movement’ to buy American, no one has ever taken issue with us saying, ‘Buying American is good for America.’” To the McGrews, this is just a way of showing patriotism that benefits everyone.
Some of the changes in the summer season that Homeland is going to be making will be transitioning away from work boots and making room for children’s clothes. A most popular item is camo overalls for kids. The toddler girl camos even have little pink ruffles along the trouser cuffs. Another item that is a big hit are the Alabama Wholesale Socks. Talk about being “made in America,” these are 100% cotton, made over yonder in Ft. Payne, and are cheaper than what you will get at a big-box store. “They are made here, packed by hand, and they even include a hand-written note thanking me for my business,” said Amanda. “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about,” I replied.
Besides the anniversary party, Homeland Trading is going to have a boutique/booth at the Piney Chapel Antique Show, to be held on August 4 and 5. The work boots will be clearance priced, and there will be jeans, overalls, and big and little pocket T-shirts. These are plain, no logos, and are perfect for work or school. There will also be socks for the whole family. That weekend happens to be the back-to-school tax-free weekend; so you can get a good deal of your school shopping done while enjoying the unique atmosphere of a small town festival.
I asked Amanda if the Made In America Movement is gaining traction. She said, “Yes! There are more Made In America options that are the real deal, and more online items are now available.” She also told me that from her point of view, she is “proud to have been associated early on with a movement that is growing.” For my part, I am enormously proud of John and Amanda. They took a huge risk to bless us with things we need and a commitment to grow our local economy, have worked themselves down to a nub, and still have the desire to throw a family-friendly party. That indeed is the American Dream, and may the Made In America Movement spread from sea to shining sea.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner