By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette — A woman from the Philippines strolling through the souvenir shop in One Niagara smiled as she flipped over the “Niagara Falls” cap to inspect the label inside.
“What I thought was made in the U.S., I found was made in China,” said Percy Tabogdir, who now lives in Toronto. But that’s not the case any longer, she noted. Ms. Tabogdir appeared delighted to be among customers for the grand opening on Saturday of the Made in America store on the second level of the former Occidental Chemical Center, Niagara Street and Rainbow Boulevard. That Niagara Falls cap and everything else for sale in the store is manufactured in this country.
Mark Andol, the company president and owner, said his flagship Made in America store in Elma, started in a garage that also houses a general welding and fabricating facility. While operating the latter business, he realized that in 2007-2008 he had lost nearly one-half his business to China.
“I wanted to save and create jobs in the U.S.,” he said, exuding optimism to grow the company. Initially, he was offering 50 products (e.g. caps, t-shirts, paperweights) and now more than 5,000 of his items are 100 percent made in this country.
Hoppy Posey of Cookville, Tenn., said the new store is a welcome addition because it helps sell goods the American workers make.
“That’s a good thing as opposed to Walmart,” he said.
Robert Kendzia, a LaSalle resident, added, “I really like this store. Tourists also want to buy these items because they’ re made in the U.S. You could walk around some of those big stores in the mall —like Hobby Lobby — and not find one thing made in America.”
Andol said his company recently marked its third anniversary at its home site, 900 Maple Road, Elma. Earlier his “Made in America” operations were featured on “ABC News with Diane Sawyer.”