Article published in Indystar.com which is a backlash to supply chain product problem announcements of recent problems with chinese product quality / safety. Good example of risks in not engineering supply chain and or product quality to a business
Toys play up U.S. origins
American companies hope to capitalize on recent recalls of China-made products
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• Tom Prichard
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By Bruce Horovitz and Laura Petrecca
Next to "Merry Christmas," here's the greeting toy shoppers are most likely to hear and see this holiday season: "Made in America."
After Mattel's back-to-back recalls of Chinese-made toys -- and amid growing, broader concerns about the safety of products from China -- some small American toy makers and sellers are gearing up for a "Made in America" push.
The stampede is on to appear safer than Mattel and cash in on consumer fears. Such nostalgic brands as Little Tikes and Slinky, which make many of their toys here, plan to flaunt patriotic roots.
"Every parent's bubble bursts when the possibility exists that -- because of a toy -- their kid might die," says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a customer loyalty research consultancy.
Which is why when Renee Fraser, a Los Angeles ad agency owner, shops for Christmas toys for her 2-year-old grandson, "the first thing I'll do is look at where it's made." If it's made in China, it probably will go back on the shelf, she says.
U.S. toy makers plan to:
• Stamp "Made in USA" on packages. Until now, Little Tikes, maker of the Cozy Coupe, has done little to promote domestic manufacturing on packages. That's about to change, says Tom Prichard, executive vice president.
Little Tikes attorneys are trying to figure out which products can add a "Made in USA" stamp, because some, such as play kitchens, are made here but use electronic parts from China.
• Flaunt U.S. roots in displays. Poof-Slinky, maker of Slinky and Poof foam balls will put stickers on counter displays to "remind people that the product is made in the U.S," according to Ray Dallavecchia, president.
• Tout U.S. ties on Web sites. Online seller Turner Toys is seeing a surge of interest in American products such as wooden alphabet blocks and rattles. "On any product that is made in the USA, we make a big point of it," says owner Ed Lowenton.
• Play up American heritage to store buyers. American Plastic Toys tweaked trade magazine ads to appear this fall. The ads already said "made in USA," but now will say "proudly made in the USA since 1962" and be bigger to make that message more prominent, says President John Gessert.
• Renegotiate with retailers. Little Tikes has set up meetings with major retailers to discuss more shelf space and more product for the holidays, says Prichard. But some added shipments might not arrive until November, which is late for retailers.
• Hype quality control. As a reminder of the dangers of some toys from China, folks logging on to Whittle Shortline Railroad's Web site are greeted with: "100 percent kid-safe with lead-free paints." The site is http://woodentrain.com/.
That message went up recently after recalls of lead-tainted products by Mattel and RC2's Thomas & Friends, says Whittle-Shortline founder Mike Whitworth.
"This is our 15 minutes of fame."