If you’re not old enough to remember AOL, burning your own mix CDs, or scrambled cable TV, strap in — because you’re not gonna believe this. There used to be a giant book with everyone’s phone number in it!
It was a 10-pound tome, cover-to-cover of 6-point font, alphabetically listing every single person’s name, address, and landline phone number within entire metropolises. And it was thousands of pages long. We called it “the White Pages.” Not only that, but there was another one with yellow pages that we called — are you ready for this? — “the Yellow Pages.” That one housed every single business, from dry cleaners to pizza joints to video stores (wait ’til I tell you about video stores!).
Basically, sans the internet, these physical archives were the single-most reliable reference to find someone or something — at least, within a day’s drive. And while it may sound ludicrous now, it was actually very useful, not to mention efficient. Sure, you can Google any topic under the sun nowadays. But you’ll be presented with millions of results, all of varying quality and questionable authority.
“The Yellow Pages” was a trusted, no-questions-asked resource of what’s available and where to get it. And now, in the face of an AI uprising, two quixotic, self-proclaimed “gear fanatics” are resurrecting the historic volume and catering it to American-made gear.
It’s called “Crafted With Pride.” And I received a copy of the inaugural edition at my doorstep — just like the old days!
‘Crafted With Pride’: Gear Yellow Pages
Not quite the titanic compendium of its now-extinct predecessor, “Crafted With Pride” focuses solely on made-in-USA gear you can wear on your body. It comprises shoes, gloves, hats, packs, jackets, swimwear, blankets, and more. And while it omits many hard goods categories like sleeping bags, tents, and knives — for the sake of the authors’ sanity — future editions may offer a more comprehensive selection of outdoor gear.
“We’re apparel people first and foremost,” co-author Willy DeConto told me. Both he and fellow author, Alex Goulet, share a history in the vintage industry. “But even as consumers, we would both love to have access to a list that hit those other categories. How we might want to branch into this in the future is all TBD. Our ‘tip line’ for great recommendations in any genre is always open!”
The East Coast duo teamed up 5 years ago to begin wrangling all the info — addresses, phone numbers, websites, and background on brands — that would become edition one of “Crafted With Pride.”
“This project originally started from an archival perspective. We wanted to tell the stories of all the interesting heritage brands in our area that were still manufacturing in a manner mostly unchanged from the golden era of apparel manufacturing in the 20th century,” DeConto said.
Why go through all the trouble to make a book? Why not Google?
“Believe it or not, this book took years of research, much of which did not involve a search engine. So much in the guide has come through word of mouth — stories we’d hear working in the vintage clothing business over the years, seeing an intriguing tag sewn into a sweatshirt at the thrift store, consulting out-of-print trade publications or magazines, eBay, things like that,” DeConto said.
“These are companies with no marketing departments, no SEO optimization specialists, just sole proprietors and small outfits focused entirely on making honest, top-quality gear for their loyal customer base.”
Plus, he noted that he and Goulet took the time to personally vet each manufacturer to make sure a “Made in USA” claim was more than a Google-friendly keyword, but that it was a very real commitment to American manufacturing.
‘Crafted With Pride’: Limited-Edition Guide to USA-Made Gear
So what exactly is “Crafted With Pride”? At its core, it’s a two-part reference guide (and delightful coffee-table book). Section one — the “featured” section — presents a full-color summary of what DeConto and Goulet called “outstanding companies.”
Make no mistake. The authors proudly adhered to a strict, no-pay-to-play format. The brands included within the feature section received their position on the merits of a point system they devised. That’s based on factors like company size, years of operation, and percentage of products made in the USA.
This section is organized alphabetically by brand. It lists the year the company was founded, its website, contact info, and a short summary blurb. But despite the glamor of this section, the real meat and potatoes of “Crafted With Pride” is section two — a literal yellow pages of American-made gear — dubbed the “directory.”
This is the no-B.S., at-a-glance index of brands, organized by category (“footwear western,” “footwear athletic,” “blankets,” and so on). Each brand gets its own block — eight per page — with basic contact info and a summary sentence.
If you’ve read the original Yellow Pages, you’ll feel right at home here.
First Edition, Future Editions
All told, “Crafted With Pride 2023” contains more than 750 companies. About 60% of those fall into the outdoor and activewear categories, according to DeConto. And while it’s not quite each and every made-in-the-USA brand under the sun, it’s pretty close.
“None were left out on purpose — the only ones that did not make it were those which we just weren’t aware of at the time of assembling the guide,” DeConto said. “While we believe this is the most comprehensive guide by a long shot, finding so many great brands since publication went to press is further proof that finding Made in USA brands is far more complicated than a simple Google search.”
While the pair noted they definitely see room to grow on the gear side, this first run of the “Made in USA Yellow Pages” will demonstrate how much demand there is for this product.
But whether you miss the old phone books, or think “phone book” means Kindle app, “Crafted With Pride” is an outstanding nod to the classic business directory and a great addition to the bookshelf.
You can get a copy of the inaugural “Crafted With Pride” edition for $30 now.