It’s Flag Day, the stars and stripes are flying in Barrington and one local business is celebrating four years of supporting workers who make goods right here in America. If you’ve never stopped by Norton’s U.S.A. on Lageschulte Street, you’re in for a pleasant surprise and this is a great week to visit! The old fashioned general store is celebrating their fourth anniversary in business this week by hosting a BINGO NIGHT and and OUTDOOR MOVIE NIGHT, along with five days of specials, starting today. Drop by and you’ll even get to meet the store’s proprietor, Deborah Leydig. She’s a professional actress with a passion for all things American.
When you step inside Norton’s, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. The rural retailer’s digs are deliberately down home. The building was originally a livery barn, dating back to the early 1900’s. Deborah bought the property in 2006 when it was The Workshop of Barrington, the business of a local furniture maker. They refurbished the building, painted it red and opened for business in June of 2007.
You can’t help but feel curious when you walk through Norton’s doors, as you soak up the wide open space filled with rustic displays of papers, goods and a surprising selection of American-made sundries. You’ll find garbage cans, fudge, homemade sweaters, toys, cast iron frying pans, purses, blankets, Kit Kat clocks, wrapping paper, garden goods, cleaning supplies, a great selection of American flags and even pink flamingos! In short, if you need a unique gift for anyone in your life, you’ll find it here. When I recently purchased a little red barn for my one-year-old son, I left the shop feeling like I’d done a good deed.
Deborah Leydig says her business was inspired, in part, while researching a role she played at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater in 2003. She was cast as Barbara Ehrenreich in the stage adaptation of her book, Nickel and Dimed. The book is about the underappreciation of America’s low-wage workers who have been losing their jobs as companies offshore the manufacture of their products. “It was the biggest pain in my heart when they took the Radio Flyer red wagon from Chicago to China. I thought, how could they do that?” She opened Norton’s U.S.A. in Barrington to provide a service within our community and support the larger movement to buy American.
365: How do you believe your business is making a positive difference for our country?
Deborah: We’re creating awareness of how important it is to buy American and to have a place where you can buy American. Since I opened 4 years ago, more and more people are checking labels and looking at packaging to see where it is made and they are making different choices. When they can, more and more people are buying products made in the USA. When you buy American, you keep Americans working and when Americans are working, our country is better off because they in turn have purchasing power.
365: What do you love most about your business and what you do?
Deborah: I love all my customers and making them happy. We have such a wonderful sense of community at Norton’s. It was a very unexpected surprise.
365: What are your hottest sellers? Is there anything that flies off store shelves?
Deborah: Our star shaped “Twinkle Babies” are the most consistent hot seller. They are the perfect gift for a baby. We also sell new things that come in because we get so excited about them. New things arrive all the time, so there is always something new to look at.
365: What are your future plans for Nortons? Do you hope to expand and open another shop one day?
Deborah: We opened our web store a year ago and we have over 1500 products on line. That was huge and we do it all in house. People around the country thank me for doing this because they want to buy American products and they don’t know where to find them. I have been able to put them all in one place. I have had quite a few people ask about franchising, but we will see.
365: Why do you believe Barrington is a great place to do business?
Deborah: The support from the Village, the Chamber of Commerce, the other merchants and, of course, the customers. It’s like the perfect storm! Running a store is a ton of work, I just know that if I ever got in trouble, like a flood or a fire or something, everyone would come to help and that is an amazing feeling.
Deborah knows Barrington well. She and her husband have lived and raised two kids here for the past 17 years. And she’s the kind of person who gives her time and gets involved. This is Deborah’s first year on the board of the Barrington Chamber of Commerce and she just baked 500 cupcakes out of her own home for last weekend’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life right here in Barrington. She’s as busy as can be, her business is up 33% over last year and she’s sincerely passionate about what she does. On top of selling American goods, she’s created a grass roots organization called Bring One Home. “I’m trying to encourage big companies that have taken products offshore to bring one product back home, make it in America and they will see that people will buy it.” You can help the cause AND celebrate Norton’s anniversary this week. Here’s their schedule of anniversary specials they’re offering this week – just in time for Father’s Day!!!
- June 14 – 24% off all Housewares, Tools & Home Improvement (Web promo code – TUESDAY)
- June 15 – 24% off all Clothes, Infants, Accessories & Travel (Web promo code – WEDNESDAY)
- June 16 – Thursday night is BINGO NIGHT at Norton’s with prizes for winners from 6-8 p.m.24% off all Home Goods & Food (Web promo code – THURSDAY)
- June 17 – 24% off all Stationery, Books, Spa, Cleaners & Polishes (Web promo code – FRIDAY)
- June 18 – Saturday night is MOVIE NIGHT at Norton’s! They’re serving FREE popcorn & lemonade and showing ET outside the store at 8 p.m.24% off all Garden, Pets & Toys (Web promo code – SATURDAY)