Story and Photos by Katie Drake

Yep, I’m the mom of a 2-year-old.  Like most children his age, our Nolan has the unique ability to make me feel so incredibly proud to be his mom one second, and the next moment is testing every last ounce of my patience in my entire being.

Watching those bright eyes and little mind learn in real-time is truly an amazing thing.  It gives me a new perspective and often leaves me in awe.  Awe… or a tossup with wanting to bang my head against the wall.

Sometimes he will stop dead in his tracks and say “Bird, Mamma” and point to a bird sitting atop a faraway tree, I wouldn’t have noticed.  On walks, we will be walking down our street and he remembers who lives in the different houses, “Tony live dere!”  “Dave live dere.”  “Nikki’s house.” “Kitty Kitty house” that is the one that often has cute kitties hanging out in the windows or patrolling the sidewalks.

This kid knows the difference between the “Lieberry” (his favorite place) and “Sitty Hall” or “Rock Sitty Center”, which he often asks us to drive by so he can see them working as we head home.  He knows that Canal Place is where we get ice cream, the place to see the water, and the “Ann Steet Deli.”  A few weeks ago, he noticed that another little boy was crying and went and patted him on the back and said, “It okay, it okay.”

Nolan and Chris Boepple eating breakfast made by Michelle at Ann Hanson Street Deli

So sweet right?  Yet only minutes or sometimes just moments later he is bawling/whining/screaming because he doesn’t want the red crayon, he wanted a green one and I was supposed to magically know that.  Other times he will scream “No like dat shirt” as we are ready to put his coat on and walk out the door, and almost always on a day when we are running late to get out the door in the morning.   Or refusing to get dressed after his bath- even though we do this every night.  Instead of putting his robe, slippers, and diaper on, he insists on tearing around the house as fast as he can, naked… and not yet potty trained, which always ends disastrously.  Thank God for laughter.  It’s the thing that always helps me get through the tough days.

We’re now in the stage of question-asking.  Fortunately for us, Nolan has not yet started asking “Why?”  His favorite question to ask (and he asks it A LOT) is “Who Made That?” It’s a simple enough question… Or is it?

Dinner?  That’s an easy one – “Daddy made it.”   Donut?  “White Rose made it.”  Sippy cup?  “Uhh…. Walmart made it, with a question mark.”   Tablet?  “Oh man… I’m not so sure… we bought it from Amazon.”   Knee Hockey Stick?  “Geeze… um… maybe the Utica Comets made it since their logo is on the side?”

The toaster, the tv, the broom, dishes, toys, furniture, you name it, he wants to know who made it.  His questions about who made it go on and on, and on and on, and on and on.

This constant questioning from Nolan has caused me to think about where things in our household come from, and who made them.  Honestly, I’ve never really never thought about it before.

Is this one any better?

We try our best to answer him honestly, and when we don’t know we look at the product to find out or try to Google the answer before his curiosity runs out.  Quickly, I learned that I was really proud to be able to tell him that something was made, or purchased locally.

Mommy’s earrings? Kim from Fall Hill Bead and Gem made those.  That spice from the spice rack? We bought that at the Little Falls CoOp.  Nolan’s mittens? Those are from Alpaca Gardens.  That candle?  From Chickweed.  The tea I’m drinking?  The Mustard Seed made that.  That painting?  The Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts.  My shirt?  Loft 32.  Whatever it is he is asking “Who made dat?” I am always most proud when I can tell him it came from Little Falls.

How much of the stuff in our household is locally made?  How much is made in the USA?  According to Statista, “In 2020, the value of imports of goods and services into the United States was 2.81 trillion U.S. dollars.”  So a LOT.

Knowing that doesn’t make me feel great.  In fact, it made me feel a little crappy about much of our family’s stuff.

After doing some research, basically, to make myself feel better about this, there are a ton of brands that most or all of their products are made in America.

Weber Grills, Airstream Trailers, Gibson Guitars, and Wilson Footballs.  American Plastic Toys, KitchenAid Mixers, Green Toys, and Fiesta TableWare.   Crayola Crayons. Stetson Hats. New Balance Shoes with label Made in the USA, Burt’s Bees Products.  Louisville Sluggers.  Benjamin Moore Paint.  Post-It Notes. Pyrex Glassware. L.L. Bean’s made in the USA stuff, Lodge Cast Iron Cookware, Igloo coolers, Smith & Wesson Guns, Wiffle Balls, and it brings me great peace to know Slinkys are made in the USA too.  Viking Appliances. Vermont Teddy Bears.  Steinway Pianos, and Hallmark Greeting Cards. Merle Norman makeup. Anchor Glassware.  Harley-Davidson.  Gorilla Glue, Vermont Castings Stoves, and even  Estwing Hand Tools.

Whitmans Sampler chocolates- made in America (thank goodness!)

Why don’t we buy more things made locally or in the US?  The most common answer I hear is that it’s “more expensive.”   That is often true.  But my question to you is, how much did you spend on gas to drive to the other box store to buy that thing you could have bought here locally?

I found an interesting article about this published by a website called that mentioned some interesting stats.  “In 2019 a survey by a data and analytics company, Thomas found that 62% of respondents said they preferred to buy American-made products.”  In a more recent, smaller survey they said that number has grown.  “More than one-fifth of respondents said they’d be willing to pay up to 10% more for it.

If you want to channel your inner ‘Nolan,’ go ahead and take a hard look around your house at all your stuff and ask yourself, “Who Made Dat?”

For a moment, consider the impact your purchase could have on the local economy of Little Falls when you buy local and support a local business owner.  These hardworking folks are part of our community.  They are our neighbors and sometimes our friends.  They likely know your name and will be happy to see you.  They live here and work here and raise their children here.  And they work damn hard to make and carry quality products that we don’t have to travel far to get.   If you have to pay a couple of dollars more so what?

Support local business, I can tell you sure feels a hell of a lot better to know you made a difference, even if it’s a small one.

Nolan squirrel and bird watching at Eastern Park

Katie Drake moved to Little Falls in 2003 and fell in love with this city. She says she isn’t really a writer, but a storyteller.

The opportunity to highlight the great people of Little Falls, share her personal perspectives and some humor from time to time piqued her interest and here we are.

Just ask her, and she’ll tell you that after growing up in Millers Mills, population 25+ (according to the sign), Little Falls was just the right size. Katie is the oldest of her two brothers and five sisters.

In 2020 Katie and her best friend Chris began their greatest adventure yet in 2020, with the birth of their sweet and sassy son Nolan who makes them laugh every day.

In her free time, Katie loves to snowmobile, golf, hike, and travel.

If you have feedback on one of her articles or an idea for a story, please feel free to reach out to Katie at, she would love to hear from you.

If this article leaves you wanting more, or you are just bored out of your mind, feel free to check out other articles she has contributed by visiting Katie Drake Archives – My Little Falls.