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Made in America grows to 'supply anybody' $1.2 million purchase of vacant neighboring site in Elma provides distribution center to support global ambitions

The Made in America store has built a following, filling up the shelves of its Elma location with more products, hosting bus tours and launching an e-commerce website.

Something the store at 900 Maple Road was lacking: adequate space to handle its growth.

Now the store's parent company has acquired a vacant building on neighboring property for $1.2 million for use as a distribution center as it develops a wholesale business for made-in-America items.

"This distribution center is going to make it easy for any mom-and-pop [store], large store, small store across the world to buy made-in-America products," said Mark S. Andol, Made in America's owner.

The store opened in April 2010 with 50 products in 2,000 square feet of space. Today, the store carries 4,000 products packed into 6,000 square feet. Made in America requires the products it carries to be 100 percent American-made, including the packaging.

"We can supply anybody," Andol said. "You want to raise your hand and sell made-in-America products, have an end display, have an aisle full, we're going to take care of you quick, because nobody knows where to get it. We've made it easy."

Made in America's parent, General Welding & Fabricating, bought an 18,000-square-foot building on eight acres on West Maple Court. It was built in 1995 and was once the home of TVGA Consultants, which moved to downtown Buffalo.

Some products are already inside the distribution center; Andol expects the center to be in full use by the fall. He also is working on plans to open a second company-owned store, in Carlisle, Pa.

The Elma store's concept has drawn wide attention in the form of hundreds of interviews with media outlets from around the world and dozens of visits from motor coaches loaded with tourists.

The Maple Road store employs 18 people and generates about $1 million sales annually. Andol said the store is profitable.

Among the brands the store carries is Wigwam, which is known for its socks. Richard Fraser, a Rochester-based sales representative for Wigwam, said the Elma store is his largest account in the state.

Fraser recalled when Andol met with Robert E. Chesebro Jr., president and CEO of family-owned Wigwam, in Wisconsin. "The owner of Wigwam and Mark are like blood brothers," Fraser said. "I knew they were going to get along." Chesebro, a proponent of U.S.-made goods, is expected to visit the store this summer, Fraser said.

The distribution center will support Made in America's Maple Road store as well as its e-commerce website, which Andol described as "store No. 2."

"That [website] should outperform our brick-and-mortar store," he said. "That's the goal."

Elma Town Supervisor Dennis M. Powers called Made in America "a great asset to the town. We're always looking for a good business, and you couldn't ask for anything better than what you have right here." Andol reflected on comments he has heard from customers since the store debuted.

"Originally, they said, 'Mark, we love you, what you're doing, you give us hope, but get more products,' " Andol said. "Now they say, 'You're full, Mark. What are you going to do?' "