Short and long-term rentals are equipped with dozens of American-made goods.
When shopping for a new automobile, most American consumers visit a car dealer’s showroom and take their possible purchase for a test drive.
Patrick Flynn, founder and CEO of Northeast Suites, a corporate and vacation rental apartment business based in Boston, has incorporated this auto purchasing routine into his lodging business.
It’s called GoLocal Suites.
Northeast Suites currently has 250 apartments in the Greater Boston area and another 60 units in other American markets, including New York, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco and cities along the East Coast.
In this highly competitive, $14 billion industry, Flynn had an idea where he would convert his rental suites into more than just a place to lay your head at night.
“When you book our suites, you are supporting local economies and helping businesses grow and maintain jobs in America. It’s our vision to deliver a premium living experience and to promote U.S. business owners who produce quality you can’t find anywhere else in the world.” Patrick Flynn, creator of GoLocal Suites
He decided to turn the apartments into showrooms of American-made products. He has converted 20 of his Boston rentals into GoLocal suites, and each apartment is fully-equipped with products manufactured, sourced or assembled in the U.S.
And they are ready for your test drive.
“It’s an exciting way for us to showcase some of the best American-made products being crafted and manufactured today,” Flynn said. “People who stay in our suites can demo all the products for days or weeks instead of just looking at them in a retail store.”
Each GoLocal suite is equipped with more than 60 items sourced from American manufacturers, from major appliances and furniture to can openers and paper towel holders.
Northeast Suites guests are encouraged to download the GoLocal app on their smart phones so that they can read in detail about each American-made product in the rental unit.
Flynn is betting that after testing these products and reading about their American-made history, guests will order an item on the spot and have that product waiting for them when they return home. He has a provisional patent pending on the process for the ad hoc demonstration of items available for purchase within a rental setting.
“We built this program with one goal in mind – to share stories with our guests about the origins of these great products,” Flynn said. “There’s a certain quality that can only be experienced by seeing, feeling and using our Made in the USA products yourself. And sometimes, you just have to have it.
“When you book our suites, you are supporting local economies and helping businesses grow and maintain jobs in America. It’s our vision to deliver a premium living experience and to promote U.S. business owners who produce quality you can’t find anywhere else in the world.”
When the 37-year-old Flynn started Northeast Suites in 2012, he began renting desirable properties and quickly furnished them with less-expensive foreign products.
“I was buying a lot of the cheaper stuff just to get the business going and to be able to quickly provide more and more rental suites,” he said. “But I had an epiphany about a year ago. I wanted to differentiate from all the other guys that were doing what I was doing.
“I wanted to focus on quality American-made products that my rental guests could see and use because I believed that if people took the time to explore American-made quality, they would not only prefer it, they would buy it. This is my chance to educate people who don’t realize that American-made products are not only superior, but they support families and communities.”
Flynn’s premium suites generally cost about $150 per night, which can be half the price of a hotel room in a major city, and offer a comfortable living experience with separate kitchens, laundry rooms, bedrooms, dining and living spaces.
The amenities in the GoLocal suites are sourced from a variety of companies, ranging from small mom-and-pop businesses to multi-million- dollar corporations.
One example is Hutzler Company in Canaan, Conn. It was founded in the U.S. in the late 1930s and was forced to make kitchen products out of plastic due to the shortage of metals at that time because of World War II. It still provides inexpensive, top-quality plastic kitchen items that are superior to Chinese plastics.
Another supplier, Circle Furniture, has been in business for more than 60 years providing fine-quality tables, chairs and sofas to residents of the northeast from its manufacturing facility near Boston.
“I believed that if people took the time to explore American-made quality, they would not only prefer it, they would buy it. This is my chance to educate people who don’t realize that American-made products are not only superior, but they support families and communities.” Patrick Flynn
Flynn is constantly searching for all American-made products to feature in his rental suites. But because it is not always easy to tell how much of a product is made in the United States, he has created three categories of goods.The first category are items that are 100 percent sourced, manufactured and designed in the United States. The second category and third categories may contain some foreign material sourcing, but the design and assembly of these products is all done in America.
“I have a spreadsheet now of everything in the apartments – the linens, the lamps, the artwork, the rugs, even some electronics that’s aren’t made here but are assembled in the U.S., and that’s fine by me because they still are supporting American jobs,” Flynn said. “I found a pizza cutter that is made in Michigan. I found My Pillow which is made in Minneapolis. The pans are made in Milwaukee. Everything started to connect.
“I have 200,000 square-feet of space that has never been looked at as retail footage. I’m selling stories about families that make the products that make up everyday life in my apartments. They are fantastic stories and people love to read these stories. People don’t know that there are no toasters made in America right now.”
Flynn’s concept is much like the one that echoes throughout the baseball-themed film Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”
“We’ve lost 6 million jobs by sending items and jobs to China that, by the way, we are perfectly capable of making here,” he added. “There is a market demand for these items and domestic competition here will drive the prices down for everybody. There are plenty of people in the heartland and throughout the country that can start manufacturing these items with the right attention and the right demand. And there is definitely a demand.”
Flynn is not a novice in the corporate and vacation rental world. His company has grown steadily since its inception in 2012, and landed on the Inc. 5000 list in 2016 with a 557.13 percent growth. Northeast Suites came right back last year with an 82 percent growth. Flynn has 20 employees and the company brought in a gross revenue of $12 million in 2017.
Other than Flynn’s current properties, he is pitching his GoLocal system to Airbnb hosts, hotel brands and corporate housing providers.
“I am on my own here and don’t have any investors,” Flynn said. “But I have plenty of evidence of proof of concept. My ultimate goal is to get the right partner to blow this up in a bigger way. I want to expand the GoLocal concept to all of my properties. I hate that I haven’t been able to do that yet. I want to eventually furnish thousands of these apartments with Made in America items.”