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Anecdotal evidence from attendees at the annual toy fair sponsored by the Toy Industry Association, the world’s largest and most attended toy show, indicates toy companies are starting to get the message about the advantages of producing in America rather than offshore, and the steady stream of Chinese toy recalls indicates toy consumers may be getting the same message.

Melissa Jennings, president and founder of Toys of USA, participated in this year’s toy fair in New York City, and says that although it always would be better to have more American manufacturing companies at the show, there were at least five or six times as many companies making at least some of their toys in the U.S. compared to last year.

In prior years, many toy companies would get very defensive when they talked with Jennings and learned that Toys of USA carried only American-made products. When she would ask the import companies the question “Do you make your toys in the USA?” the general response was laughter. Others said things like “Good luck with that” in a very mocking fashion.

But this year was very different, to say the least, because the positive feedback far outweighed the negative. When the Toys of USA founder spoke with many of the manufacturers who import their toys, they would ask for advice as to where and how they might produce in the USA too. They would also commend Toys of USA for its mission and conviction.

One thing is apparent: more toy manufacturers are beginning to appreciate the benefits of producing in the USA. One only has to look at the number of recalls coming out of China and other countries to see why. Did you think the scare of unacceptable levels of lead in toys coming from China and other safety issues was over since the reporting of the massive toy recalls of 2007 eventually died down? Think again.

Nearly 1,000 SchoolSmart foam balls and TechStitched soccer balls were recalled due to excessive levels of lead on April 30 of this year. Place of manufacture? China. One and a half million Graco strollers were recalled in January after five children suffered fingertip amputations in the canopy hinge. Dorel Asia recalled 635,000 cribs after one infant died and six became trapped in the drop side.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall of all Generation 2 Worldwide and “ChildESIGNS” portable and full-size drop side cribs after three infant deaths were reported. Both infants and toddlers were at risk of serious injury or death through strangulation and suffocation.

Chinese-made Super Rig toy sets were recalled last December since the truck’s surface coating violated the federal lead paint standard (excessive lead levels).

Luckily there are companies like Toys of USA that offer only 100 percent American manufactured toys with 100 percent American content.

You’ll also find American-made toys at America’s Virtual General Store by going to America’s Virtual General Store and clicking on the ‘toys and sports’ tab.

But safe toys aren’t only needed to keep our kids out of harm’s way. If you’re a dog owner, you’ll want to provide your pet with safe toys too. At Konas Chips, you’ll find more than a dozen American-made toys to keep your dog playfully safe.

At KeyWest Pets, you’ll find a nice variety of American-made collars, leashes, and harnesses for your dog or cat, as well as attractive American-made cloth bags to house those little plastic baggies used to pick up after your pet.

So keep your kids and pets safe this summer by supporting American companies that truly care enough about them to employ American workers and provide American quality. Let’s show Chinese and other foreign producers that if they continue to produce substandard and inferior products that American consumers will respond in a way that not only protects their children and pets, but also in a way that protects the independence their country was founded upon.

Here’s something to remember when you prepare to celebrate July 4th this year: America can’t continue to claim to be an independent country if we continue to have our wants and needs supplied by foreign producers. America was founded upon a declaration of independence, not interdependence.

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