BUSINESS: Suppliers Made in USA American Eyewear Faces the Pandemic and Forges a New Path Forward By Gwendolyn Plummer Tuesday, October 27, 2020 12:30 AM RELATED CONTENT ArtCraft Optical: Local Heritage, 100 Years in the Making Hilco Vision: Keeping Americans Safe Lowercase: New York at the Center Modo: Brooklyn Made, Brooklyn Strong State and the ‘New’ American Optical: American Value Thema: Italian Know How, American Spirit Click here to download a PDF of Made is USA.NEW YORK—Each year when we set out to begin our annual Made in USA feature, the American social and political landscape looks a little different—and it’s safe to say that 2020 is no exception. It’s been a tumultuous year for Americans (and the year’s most anticipated moment is still to come) but we continue to chug along, all things considered. The same is true for the U.S.’ at-home eyewear companies, old and new. Regardless of the product, consumers respond to the “Made in USA” story. According to a study conducted by The Reshoring Institute and reported in Supply Chain Management Review, which involved surveying 500 Americans across the country, nearly 70 percent of respondents said they prefer American-made products. And of those surveyed, about 83 percent said they’d be willing to pay up to 20 percent more for those products. Although this is a broad study, focusing on all areas of commerce, ECPs across the country tell VM they have experienced a similar sentiment firsthand. Annie Hicks, LDO at SeePort Optometry in North Port, Florida, makes sure to market the “Made in USA” angle when presenting American made frames. She told VM that patients often see the Made in USA story as an added benefit—especially because it comes on the heels of an already fantastic product. When it comes to products Made in USA, Hicks said, “I believe it gives the patient an extra element of interest, keeping their attention longer to evaluate and fall in love with the product because Made in USA is an easy, quick statement that does not need any explanation or education or selling. Patients just know what it means and are instantly more interested because of the statement.” Vladimir Mordukhayev, CEO and optician at Modern Day Optx in New York City, who sells Thema’s eGreen, tells a similar story. Mordukhayev stocks frames from all over the world, and separates them in the office so that “clients… see and feel the differences firsthand.” He finds that clients who are interested in where frames are made are often also brand-seeking clients. He explained, “I am the one who actually brings up where it’s made, how long it takes to make and why they feel so good on the face. And they love it.” It’s no question, then, that the Made in USA story adds value. But with the U.S. constantly changing, along with our industry, many American-based eyewear companies have been forced to adapt and grow, from reimagining the work week to changing the way production occurs. In the face of a pandemic and a country in crisis, American eyewear has had to forge a new path forward.