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Fort Mill couple sells wristbands to support US troops

Fort Mill entrepreneurs Stuart and Jill Simon want to sell more than 313 million of their latest product.

They will be satisfied, however, if the sale of just one unit helps a small business or members of the U.S. armed forces, present and past.

Their product is not unique, nor is its message. It is a simple black rubber wrist band. Cut into the rubber are the words "MADE IN THE USA" on one side. The words are painted white.

The reverse is a stylized, red-white-and-blue symbol similar to an American flag.

They have a long way to go to meet their goal. Their initial order was for 1,000 wrist bands, which arrived Friday morning in Fort Mill. Four hundred are set for reshipment to Stuart's parents, Bill and Lois of Jacksonville, Fla., who are big supporters of the project.

Another 20 quickly left the door of their office Friday when a colleague stopped by and purchased them for his employees to wear. The Simons have another order for 100, so almost half the inventory is spoken for and they have yet develop a marketing plan.

The Simons say this is a good sign. Two weeks ago the wrist bands didn't exist. The idea came to them while watching the TV news, which was talking about the difficulties of buying things made in America.

Instead of joining long line of people bemoaning the lack of made-in-America items, the Simons took action. Admittedly, a small action they say, but a way to show pride in American businesses and patriotism in the USA.

The bands are made in Texas, he said, at a cost more than twice what he could have paid for a Chinese-made product. He estimates his cost for an imported band would have been about 40 cents on average.

So far, their marketing plan has been stopping by The Herald and a newspaper interview Lois Simon gave in Florida.

They plan to write ABC's Diane Sawyer because her shows on American-made products inspired them.

They also plan to write talk show host Rush Limbaugh, hoping for publicity.

The Simons plan is to give a "significant" percentage of their wholesale profits to organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Foundation. They envision the bracelets would be sold at retail stores or as a fund-raising project for various charities. The bands could retail for $1.75 each, Stuart Simon said.

Their distribution plans, like their marketing plans, are being developed. But they do have practical experience in making, marketing and selling, a made-in- the-USA product.

They operate I Stand USA, LCC, which makes furniture from Lucite and recycled rusty rebar that is used to reinforce concrete. The LCC - Stuart and Jill - make a variety of tables and stands from a small warehouse. Their tables were shown at a fall High Point Furniture Market in a section that featured products made in the USA.

They've been successful, selling orders of 25 to 30 tables and stands to furniture stores at a pop.

Another all-American furniture show is upcoming, but the Simons won't be able to make it. They hope, however, their wrist bands will. What could be a better show souvenir than a band promoting what the show is all about - made in the USA?

For more info:

To find out more about the wrist bands, call 803-547-1330 or contact the Simons by email at spsimon@istandusa.com.

To learn more about their furniture business go to www.istandusa.com

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