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September 9, 2011

We're celebrating the best of American-made design this month, and a pair of guys—Max Wastler and Joe Gannon—who make it their business to celebrate Americana all year long are taking part in the pop-up men's market NorthernGRADE this weekend in Minneapolis. Wastler and Gannon are selling sporting goods all with an American provenance under the name Buckshot Sonny's from noon to 8 PM at Architectural Antiques on Saturday, September 10th. I've known Wastler for a while and Dwell readers unfamiliar with his great blog All Plaid Out will know him for his great essay Ain't That America in the October 2011 issue. I talked with Wastler and Gannon about their venture, why they love American-made goods, and what's in store for Buckshot Sonny's.

Wastler (left) and Gannon (right) discuss the finer points of American design, Gannon's Nocona, Texas-made Nokona glove, and his mean splitter.
Wastler (left) and Gannon (right) discuss the finer points of American design, Gannon's Nocona, Texas-made Nokona glove, and his mean splitter.
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The inspiration for the name Buckshot Sonny's, Wastler's and Gannon's online store, comes from their families. This photo of Wastler's father, nicknamed "Buckshot," at age four serves as inspiration.
The inspiration for the name Buckshot Sonny's, Wastler's and Gannon's online store, comes from their families. This photo of Wastler's father, nicknamed "Buckshot," at age four serves as inspiration.
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Here's a Bloodline Pro Elite glove by Nokona. It's made in Nocona, Texas, where the company has been making baseball gear since 1934.
Here's a Bloodline Pro Elite glove by Nokona. It's made in Nocona, Texas, where the company has been making baseball gear since 1934.
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Northerngrade

What do you guys love about American-made goods?
Many of the sports we celebrate in our store originated in this country. The first baseball gloves were made here. We see a value in the provenance of the goods, as well as in products made honestly and made close to home. Why close to home? We're part of a group whose hearts beat with a new sense of pride in America. Also, it's ecologically smarter to buy goods that use fewer fossil fuels to get to where they need to be.
And with all the great variety of American objects, why focus on sporting goods?
We are selling what have come to be known as sporting goods (i.e. bats, balls, gloves, etc.), but we also have the desire for this to be a sporting goods store in the more traditional sense -- something akin to what Abercrombie & Fitch or L.L. Bean were when first they launched. We both grew up playing and watching a lot of sports. We still love sports, but we've grown tired of all the space-aged looking athletic gear available these days. I've never had the desire to wear metallic, rocket-inspired running shoes. In many cases, the old, simply designed stuff works just as well as the new stuff, and it looks much cleaner.
How did you get started?
It started with a wrong turn on our way to meet a friend for breakfast in Nashville. We passed this old sporting goods store, and were thrust back in time. In the attic of this dusty, old building, they'd stashed away all these great, old sporting goods we remembered from our youth. 

Wastler (left) and Gannon (right) discuss the finer points of American design, Gannon's Nocona, Texas-made Nokona glove, and his mean splitter.
Wastler (left) and Gannon (right) discuss the finer points of American design, Gannon's Nocona, Texas-made Nokona glove, and his mean splitter.

How about the name? Buckshot Sonny's?
Growing up, my father was known as Buckshot. Joe's grandfather went by Sonny his entire life. It's the kind of store our grandfathers would have taken our fathers. First ball, first cap, first glove, that kind of thing. 
The inspiration for the name Buckshot Sonny's, Wastler's and Gannon's online store, comes from their families. This photo of Wastler's father, nicknamed "Buckshot," at age four serves as inspiration.
The inspiration for the name Buckshot Sonny's, Wastler's and Gannon's online store, comes from their families. This photo of Wastler's father, nicknamed "Buckshot," at age four serves as inspiration.

Do you plan to do other pop-up shops like this? Or do you see a brick-and-mortar location?
After selling at NorthernGRADE this weekend, we plan to launch an online store at buckshotsonnys.com. We will show at Dose Market in Chicago in October and December. However much we would like to open a brick-and-mortar store, because we are doing this ourselves, we simply cannot afford it right now.
Here's a Bloodline Pro Elite glove by Nokona. It's made in Nocona, Texas, where the company has been making baseball gear since 1934.
Here's a Bloodline Pro Elite glove by Nokona. It's made in Nocona, Texas, where the company has been making baseball gear since 1934.
Do you have a favorite item you're selling this weekend?

Max: I'm really excited to see what our customers conjure up from our line of custom sportcoats, made entirely by hand in Chicago, Illinois. With a myriad of options, we're allowing the customer virtually endless creative freedom. And, perfectly honest, I am really excited for the Great American Pancake Company to finally get its due. They make the best pancake mixes I have ever tried.
Joe: The custom-made camouflage chore coats from Pointer Brand look really good. Max and I had the chance to learn how to make some of Pointer Brand's products on a visit to their Bristol, Tennessee factory this May. The attention to detail, and the care with which the women at the factory work was very impressive. I've used a Nokona baseball glove for the past several years, and it has worn in better than any glove I owned before it.
Any of these things a particularly good deal? Where's the smart money?
We offer a great product mix from five dollar vinyl-coated can koozies to two-hundred dollar baseball gloves and baseball bats. Rest assured it is all made right here in the good ol' USA.

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