Made in the USA: Online Reality Series Get on The Shelf Invites Consumers to Have a Say


Made in America an important selling feature.

Made in America an important selling feature.

When shopping  do you check where the product originates or is produced?  I know I do.  It is a global marketplace we live in and consumers know not all nations’ standards are the same.  In China, about 38 percent of Chinese surveyed in a recent Pew Research Center poll reflected food safety is a very big concern in China.  This is a jump from 2008, when only 12 percent of Chinese respondents agreed.

It is little wonder with these concerns, “Made in the USA” is currently one of the hottest labels around!  Seventy-four percent of the Americans in a Consumer Reports National Research survey had tried to buy a U.S.-made product in the past year.

Made in America is not just a marketing slogan!  It is important to your family and your future.  Did you know these facts about manufacturing in America?

The United States is the world’s largest manufacturing economy, producing 18.2 percent of global manufactured products, according to the World Bank. China is second with 17.6 percent.

U.S. manufacturing produces $1.8 trillion of value each year, or 12.2 percent of U.S. GDP. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy.

Manufacturing supports an estimated 17.2 million jobs in the U.S.—about one in six private sector jobs. Nearly 12 million Americans (or 9 percent of the workforce) are employed directly in manufacturing.

Walmart is again giving American inventors and manufacturing a boost with the return of the popular original online reality series. The first episode can now be viewed at, and the retailer is asking the public to decide which new products from American entrepreneurs will appear on its shelves this fall.

The five weekly “webisodes,” which go live on Tuesdays beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET from Sept. 24 through Oct. 22, 2013 feature a group of finalists under the same theme, such as Kid Stuff or Great Gadgets. The video shows give viewers a chance to learn more about the entrepreneurs behind the inventions and watch as they pitch their product to a panel of judges.

After each weekly online episode, voters have 72 hours to cast their votes for the winner, who will have their product sold on A grand prize winner will also be selected based on the number of preorders of the product, and will receive additional support marketing from plus an introduction to the Walmart stores’ merchandising team to potentially be sold in Walmart stores. Last year’s three winning products are sold in select Walmart stores and on

“Get on the Shelf celebrates the resilient and tenacious spirit of American entrepreneurs, many of whom have been working hard for a big break like this,” explains Kelly Thompson, senior vice president of merchandising for said in a statement. “The web series creates more exposure for finalists to share their inspiring stories, which makes for captivating reality TV that’s also interactive since American consumers can vote for the next great product at”

Small Business Tip: New Free Online Store for Maryland Seafood

Buying and selling Maryland seafood is easier for the state’s entrepreneurs, small business owners and consumers.  There is a new online home for Maryland seafood direct from watermen and aqua-farmers as easy as picking up the phone and placing an order. 

The University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center and the Maryland Department of Agriculture are working together to make a berth for local seafood on the Internet – at the University’s virtual farmer’s market,


 A free service to buyers and sellers, provides instantaneous listings of fresh foods available only from Maryland farms. The idea is to offer consumers the freshest food at competitive prices by connecting them directly with local farmers and now the fishing industry.  Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance, says he is thrilled with this new opportunity for producers to reach consumers; “It’s a perfect example of how technology can help our agricultural and seafood industries sell their products directly to consumers,” Hance says.


“I feel like I am doing my part to keep the seafood industry here sustainable,” says Joanne Throwe, director of the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center and creator of the website. “Buying local should be more than just about fruits and vegetables.”


Signing up for is free and acts like a Craig’s List for local foods.  Currently, the site is designed for Maryland producers and consumers; as such, anyone outside the state is unable to create an account.  Interested, but don’t live in Maryland?  Anyone can visit the site, click on listings, and view listing details and producer contact information — that is, buy from anyone listing items for sale.

Old Electronics & Technology Has New Value at One Retailer

Are there old electronics in your storage closet? One large retailer has an offer to give the old technology new cash value.

Costco has a new plan to help customers cash in on their old electronics. The retailer has a new Web site,, that lets you trade in old technology for store credit.

The program accepts 20 types of products including digital cameras, laptops and mp3 players.
For now, it only works online and not in stores.

Amazon Enters Mobile & Wireless Retail

An online retailer promises to make cell phone shopping more convenient.  Amazon is now online testing  AmazonWireless.   The new Web site lets consumers browse phone models, purchase a cell phone or sign up for mobile service from AT&T and Verizon.

The online store now in testing promotes lower pricing. So consumers don’t have to wait for rebates. It also promises free shipping on many phones.  Amazon says it plans to expand phone selection and the wireless service packages it offers on AmazonWireless.


Online Lender Prosper Now Making Loans Again

Prosper, the popular Web-based person-to-person lending service, is again offering loans and financial services after getting approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

With the SEC  registration process completed, Propser begins offering a secondary market for lenders who wish to sell their Propser loans to other investors.

The move significantly enhances the liquidity for Prosper’s lenders, who can auction their loans at any time on the new auction-based trading platform. Prosper CEO Chris Larsen said the SEC’s approval to offer its service is very important especially when the financial system is in a crisis mode.

The company went into a quiet period nine months ago, suspending the ability to seek loans through Prosper.

Prosper is back online with  enhanced features that include a bid floor to help guide lenders and minimum bids of $25, cutting in half the former minimum bid to allow lenders to better diversify their loan portfolios.

The company also boosted the minimum credit score to get a loan through the service to 640 from 520.

Initially, Prosper will be accessible to residents of 14 other states. Several other states are expected to allow the micro-loan service over the next few weeks

Love to Connect Online & Social Media: But What About Privacy?

I was working on an article last week about unusual marketing in public restrooms. I posed the question to my Facebook friends asking the most unexpected place they’ve found an ad. It was an immediate and varied response including some perspectives and experiences I was able to use in the article.

I am new to Facebook, but I am eager to share by participating in conversations online, getting opinions, sharing experiences and catching up with people who are very important to me—but I don’t see on a regular basis. This has been a great joy connecting with people where miles and time have come between us. I have been surprised at how the joy and satisfaction of these relationships springs to life online.

The biggest surprise has been the new and rich ideas I am enjoying as a result of my new and what some might call, “friendsters” I’m meeting online. I am discovering new ideas and perspectives as I share my experiences and ask questions. For instance, a new Facebook friend who has a cleaning business focused on public buildings has a perspective on what many business owners do wrong to turn off people who visit their facilities. I know I have in the past made some judgments about a business based on a visit to their restroom. It isn’t just cleanliness, but strong air freshener or even questionable colors, in a restroom can change the way visitors view a business.

At a time when we are all trying to do more with less to succeed in a down economy, I realize great ideas can come from anywhere. I’m excited to connect and talk with close friends and

those I don’t know well, but are willing to share their thoughts and perspectives with me. My employer, has an online community especially for small business owners, self-employed, and aspiring entrepreneurs where you can connect, blog, podcast, and find resources online to grow and promote your business.

With all the ways to collaborate and collaborate online, more of us are sharing our lives with people who are further removed from our daily lives. I was wondering about the loss of privacy as we reach out into the world to connect and share. What do you think? Do you manage your social media to protect your privacy? Or are you bravely entering the wide new world of social media with abandon? Please let me know what you think and what you are doing. I’d also love to hear some of the memorable conversations or ideas you’ve learned or come across via social media.

New Risks on Social Networking Sites Could Cost You $$$

I am among the many people using social networking sites to keep in touch with friends and business contacts.  But there is a threat to the connections and sharing:  an online spoiler in the form of “koobeface” worm

The latest online threat arrives as an invitation from a user’s friend or contact, inviting them to click on a link and view a video at a fake YouTube site and install an Adobe flash plug-in.
Instead, the worm installs a Trojan program, giving control of the infected user’s computer according to security experts.

Trend Micro, which documented the new strain, recommends using caution when clicking on links in unsolicited messages, even if they appear to come from someone you know.
Also, don’t install applications or programs you aren’t looking for and research any program before installing!
This warning is one of several recent attempts by scammers to exploit social networking sites.  I read InformationWeek’s Thomas Claburn’s recent report on a link showing up on Facebook possibly harvesting personal information.
There are many ways to protect your personal and business data; a big one is education for computer users. has a number of streaming video segments on computer security, articles and podcasts to keep you informed on threats.