Editor’s Note: This article was written by Colin Balfe, director of The Marketplace by TheBlaze, and is part of a series of stories highlighting businesses in TheBlaze’s eCommerce channel. In this five-part series on “American Made” small businesses, we learn about the people behind the shops in The Marketplace by TheBlaze. Read Part 1 of the series HERE and Part 2 HERE.
The Marketplace is a collection of remarkable people, extraordinary small businesses and excellent products. It’s the feeling you get upon entering a general store in a small town. It’s the handshake and smile you receive from a shop owner who has been working 16 hours straight, five days in a row. Beyond that warmth and within their work ethic is a passionate pursuit to fulfill their own version of the American dream. Learn their struggles, celebrate their triumphs and support their dream to strengthen American manufacturing.
You’ve probably heard about Constitution Quest, the board game that’s sweeping the nation with Constitutional literacy. What you might not have realized is that the creators of the game aren’t part of some big conglomerate in the gaming industry. Instead, they’re a regular American family, fired up with the entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for our nation’s Constitution.
“Our passion for the Constitution has grown over the years,” says Pam Barret, co-owner of the business.
The Barrets’ dedication is also what caused them to commit to producing the game 100 percent in the USA. You may ask, what’s so important about that? To the creators of the game, they had no other choice.
“We never considered having this American curriculum made anywhere besides the USA.” Pam says. Every time a marketing “expert” urged them to manufacture the game overseas for a higher profit margin, they politely refused.
“Just because we want to be entrepreneurs doesn’t mean it’s only about the money,” Pam says, adding that many of their customers have applauded their commitment to producing the game entirely in the U.S.
“Our customers feel personal pride in supporting American workers and American jobs, and they want the dollars they spend to directly benefit American communities,” she says.
At The Marketplace, we’re proud to work with “Made in America” businesses like the Barrets. They have found a way to make the Constitution engaging and fun for the whole family!
WE THE PEOPLE FIGHT TYRANNY GAME
Like the Barrets, Robert and Brenda Snizek discovered one of best ways to teach kids is to make a game out of learning, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Brenda is a part-time math instructor at Montana State University and her husband Robert works as a medical case manager helping people with acquired brain injuries in their recovery process. The Marketplace is proud to have them as a part of our small business community.
Robert and Brenda view themselves simply as concerned parents. As parents of teenagers, the Snizeks saw the need for a tool to help teach their kids the difference between liberty and entitlement and between freedom and “free” stuff.
Combining what they know about education with what they believe in their hearts about teaching kids, the passionate duo has created a new kind of game that teaches this invaluable lesson.
“People don’t know what modern-day tyranny looks like,” Brenda says. “So, we built a tool to teach just that, both liberty and tyranny.”
Throughout the process of creating and distributing their game, We the People Fight Tyranny, the Snizeks have remained committed to making their product in America.
“We love America!” Robert says. The game represents the Snizek family’s investment in our country’s future in several ways.
“First,” Robert explains, “by manufacturing it here, we support working families. Second, the content of this game teaches why individual liberties are worth defending—which is the first step in preserving America’s future.”
Brenda adds, “We’re trying to make a difference in the world by shaping and teaching the next generation.”
And they are succeeding. With each game they sell, the Snizeks are creating a generation of youth that is not afraid to stand and defend liberty, because they not only know what they believe, but why.
We’re proud to support small businesses that provide ways for our youth to engage in truth and history and are helping to build the greatest force for liberty our country has ever seen.
For the younger set, we present Timberworks Toys, another amazing small business that is 100 percent committed to staying “American made.” In fact, it’s what got them started.
“Really, it all started on a weekend in 2008 when my wife told me how much she hated that the toys she wanted to buy for our son were made in China,” explains Chris Heston, owner and manufacturer at Timberworks Toys. Chris’ wife encouraged him to make some log toys for their son in his wood shop.
Already busy as a custom cabinetmaker in Columbia, Mo., Chris started making log toys for his son during father-son time on the weekends. All of a sudden, they were extremely popular with his cabinet clients.
“They would come in to meet with me about designing their kitchen cabinets, and they would be ‘sidetracked’ by the toys,” Chris says. After several clients started requesting his creations for their kids and grandkids, Chris decided to turn the toys into a business.
What started as an effort to create quality, made-in-America toys for their son has turned into a thriving family business for the Hestons. Chris’ son continues to be responsible for much of the success of the business.
“He is so creative, smart and innovative,” Chris says. “I designed the parts necessary to allow him to build a bridge for his toy cars, but he was the one who wanted to build a bridge with his log toy set in the first place – he did the rest!”
Of his business, Chris says, “Owning my own business means a sense of following my own destiny,” and he’s keeping it American made.