John and Amanda McGrew joined the “Made in America” movement when they did their Christmas holiday shopping for the 2012 season. The “Made in America Challenge” was designed to encourage people to purchase their gifts from American companies, with goods produced here in the good ol’ U S of A. Amanda said, “It’s not that we are opposed to imports, it’s just that we feel that things are out of balance, and we want to help keep America from losing jobs that Americans need to be working at here at home.”
They got “bit by the bug,” and came up with the idea of opening Homeland Trading Company, which was born in July of 2015. It was one bold throw, a labor of love as well as time, and they are pleased to announce that they are starting to prepare for their first anniversary celebration.
As is the case with any small business, the first year always has a steep learning curve attached to it. They learned a lot by listening to their customers, and finding out what they really wanted. For example, women who wear plus sizes want to have the same kinds of styles as Misses, and thankfully, the current “tunic trend” has made that unusually easy.
“We have met a lot of cool people who are on board with the ‘American Made’ movement,” said John. He added, “People see our sign, and come in to find out what we are about. We are not just a women’s store”, he said.
He went on to say that he and Amanda try to “touch on the ‘Made in America’ movement” when they are greeting new customers, and says that “About 75% of the people who come in and buy are receptive. Some don’t care, but that’s ok, because we have really good prices, and they like that.”
As we chatted, I learned something fun about both John and Amanda. Not only does John have a strong sense of fashion, but as a former Architecture student at Auburn, he knows more of the actual science of form, line, balance, and color. “I know what works,” he said. Truth is, he does a lot of the display work at Homeland Trading, and has found that his time at Auburn has garnered him a o great opportunity for practical application in his own store.
Amanda and I are somewhat the same when it comes to fashion. We don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring stuff out when it comes to clothing. We just want to know what can be put together quickly, look well put together, put it on, and “git ‘er dun.” Amanda will tell you that her sense of style and fashion has grown since they opened the shop. “John always tells me, ‘You are shopping for every woman, not just you.’” She tries to wear stock from Homeland as much as she can, and this past Easter wore a charming green polka dotted dress that is available at the shop to church. When I asked her how she felt in her “frock,” she smiled, put her hands out, and would have twirled like her daughter, Katy, if she’d had the chance.
Both John and Amanda work at other jobs, and “meet themselves coming and going.” They operate equipment and/or supervise in the construction based fields, and the blue collar worker has always been part of the target market at Homeland Trading. John says it well: “Homeland Trading Company carries stock that is American made, a family store with family prices for working people.” He also wanted to emphasize that Homeland is not just a women’s store. There is men’s work and casual apparel, including denim work shirts, jeans, T shirts, and John’s favorite, Thoroughgood brand work boots. He says, “These are the kind of boot that you never throw out, you get them re-soled. They don’t wear out, they ‘ugly out.’” He swears by them.
So, what’s ahead? Eventually they want to add more children’s clothes, and a teen line, which is hard to break into because of how particular teen shoppers are. They are planning on having food, fun, and give-aways for the anniversary party, and more information on that will be forthcoming as July gets closer. It will be an “Independence Day” of a sort that has been understood by generations of people who have either been born here or have risked all to come here and be a part of what we have come to call the American Dream.
Until then, just know that there is a young family that embodies all that is possible with hard work in America, and that is Homeland Trading Company. Stop by and see for yourself!
Homeland Trading Company
1207 East Forrest Street Athens, AL 35613
Hours: Tue-Thu 9-5, Fri-Sat, 9-5:30
Facebook: Homeland Trading Company
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner