Village Profile

Capitalizing on The New Reality

For years, U.S. manufacturers chose to move their operations overseas, taking with them local and national revenue and thousands of American jobs. With the U.S. recession of 2007 still being felt today, many U.S. manufacturers have changed their manufacturing and supply strategies, with some contemplating moving their operations back home. In addition, there are a number of businesses that have chosen to take on the recession by opening up brand new businesses touting “MADE IN AMERICA.”

One such business in Barrington did just that. Barrington Hills resident Deborah Leydig opened the doors of Norton’s U.S.A., A Uniquely American General Store on June 13, 2007, after realizing the tolls of offshore manufacturing. “I’ve always wanted to open a store,” she said, “but it wasn’t until I realized how many of our companies have offshored their manufacturing that I decided to open a store to highlight the companies that have stayed in America.”

She continued, stating, “I believe every country should make things. That is the backbone of all economies, and since we have started offshoring manufacturing, our people have suffered. We need those jobs that American manufacturing brings. When you shop at Norton’s, you really do help America keep working.”

Norton’s became a reality after Leydig found that her favorite local building, a 1920’s livery barn, was up for sale. “When I saw the building was up for sale, I decided it was the right time,” she said. After six months of updates, Norton’s U.S.A – named for Leydig’s dog – opened for business.

This all-American general store, easily seen from the street due to its bright red facade, is lined with a varied assortment of American-made products, which are lovingly displayed on shelves and restored antique furnishings. The selection is truly a mixed bag, with everything from jarred foods, jewelry and home accents to toys, tools and clothes – and so much more. Uniquely, Leydig hand-picks every item seen in the store. She scours vendors at a number of Midwest gift shows, while also doing her own Internet research to find products wholly made in the U.S.

Complementing the wares manufactured across the country, the charming store features items made by artists and crafters right in the community. Leydig even shows off her crafty side by displaying the hand-screened wrapping paper she makes in-house. Local agriculture is also a big part of Norton’s list of items. A wide variety of seasonal products, including honey and eggs, are available at the store year-round.

The presence of Norton’s U.S.A. not only benefits the American manufacturers and artisans displayed here, but, by buying local, the shop greatly benefits the Barrington area community. “When people spend their money locally, the money goes right back into their town. It’s a win, win for everyone,” explained Leydig. “Today, people are realizing how important it is to spend money in town. The schools, public works and the residents themselves are all way better off because the money flows back to them in so many ways.”

Norton’s U.S.A. recently celebrated its 4th anniversary in June 2011 with a week of fun events and money-saving opportunities. Leydig regularly participates in community affairs and hosts various events at the store, such as tastings, plant exchanges, an antique garage sale and a summer sidewalk sale. “We do lots of events, always try to have fun, continue to carry quality products and give the best customer service we possibly can,” she said. “I’ve been open four years and I never realized what a lovely community my store would become.”

Leydig is currently working on putting together the Norton’s U.S.A. Customer Cookbook, featuring delicious recipes straight from the store’s loyal customers. “We have wonderful customers and we work really hard for them.”

Drop in Norton’s U.S.A., located at 400 Lageschulte Street in Barrington, Tuesdays through Saturdays, and Sundays during the holidays, or check out the more than 1,600 items for sale online at www.nortonsusa.com.