Nebraska State Fair once-a-year opportunity for GROW members to get statewide exposure

Nebraska State Fair once-a-year opportunity for GROW members to get statewide exposure

Nebraska State Fair once-a-year opportunity for GROW members to get statewide exposure

State Fair GROW Nebraska Store Entrance

Grand Island, Neb – “There’s nothing more Nebraskan” than the Nebraska State Fair, and there’s no better way to support the state than helping its small businesses thrive. 

That’s why the GROW Nebraska Foundation is bringing back the Buy Nebraska Store to the 2021 fair for the 17th year in a row. 

The more than 300,000 attendees who typically show up to the event in Grand Island, hosted this year Aug. 27 – Sept. 6, will have the chance to stop by the store at the Pinnacle Bank Expo Center and support more than 40 local Nebraska businesses who will be showcasing snacks, wearables, soaps, seasoning, meats and more.  

On select days, entrepreneurs will also be setting up sampling stations, so anyone who stops by can get a taste of their product. Some artisan businesses will also be crafting their wares live on site. 

“Every year, our store is a big hit with the crowds. Everyone loves trying some popcorn or watching jewelry being made,” said GROW Nebraska CEO Janell Anderson Ehrke. “This provides a great opportunity for our members to form new relationships and get exposure for their brands.”

The goal of this year’s store is to generate more than $150,000 worth of sales for these businesses, a boon to their Q3 quotas and a banging start to the holiday shopping season. 

All products featured at the Buy Nebraska store will also be available at the BuyNebraska.com website, so the products sampled or seen at the event can be enjoyed well beyond the State Fair. 

“For many of these businesses, eCommerce is the area where they have the most potential for growth,” said GROW Product Marketing Coordinator Clarissa Feldman. “We’re getting dozens of orders every day for our members through our ecommerce site, as well as Amazon and eBay.”

By the year 2040, 95% of all purchases will be facilitated by eCommerce, according to research from NASDAQ. It’s GROW Nebraska’s goal to make sure its member businesses are ahead of that curve. 

As an educational 501c3, GROW Nebraska strives to provide both marketing opportunities like the state fair store, as well as business training opportunities. A purchase at the store not only directly supports the business who made the product, but also helps GROW provide educational opportunities like its annual MarkeTech Conference, monthly webinars and one-on-one training. 

“Our goal is to help these business owners make a sustainable living, no matter where they live in the state,” Anderson Ehrke said. “The state fair store is a step toward that goal for them, but we’re doing whatever we can to help these entrepreneurs all year long.”

Questions about the GROW Nebraska Foundation or its Buy Nebraska store can be directed to info@grownebraska.org.

 

Hughes Strives to Make Road to Success Easier For Entrepreneurs

Hughes Strives to Make Road to Success Easier For Entrepreneurs

Hughes Strives to Make Road to Success Easier For Entrepreneurs

When Cheryl Hughes began HR Poppin’ Snacks more than 20 years ago, she encountered a steep learning curve. Not only was she learning how to make the best quality popcorn, but she also had to learn all aspects of snack food manufacturing and wholesale.

At about the same time, GROW Nebraska also started with the intent to help educate and promote businesses just like hers. Cheryl joined as one of GROW’s first members.

“There was always a learning experience, good exposure and good advertising,” Cheryl said of GROW. “They have done a great job for me.”

HR Poppin’ Snacks grew into a successful business that now pops more than 20,000 pounds of popcorn seeds annually from its store in Gibbon and sells popcorn in more than 135 flavors in stores around the county.

Cheryl has maintained her GROW membership the entire time, and she continues to give back to GROW through mentoring and giving advice to other members. And her giving doesn’t just stop with members.

Entrepreneurs have traveled to Gibbon from as far away as Brazil, Paris and Nigeria to visit HR Poppin’ Snacks to learn how to produce quality popcorn for their business ventures. Cheryl gladly shares her knowledge with anyone who asks without charging consulting fees.

“If I can help somebody with a leg up, then I do,” she said. “I learned the hard way because I didn’t have someone in the know to mentor me. Now, I have the benefit of the knowledge so I want to share with others to make their road to success a little easier.”

Cheryl and her husband, Gary, are adamant about using their business to help others. That philosophy started with the naming of their business nearly 20 years ago. The HR in the name stands for ‘Heavenly Reason.’

At least 10 percent of their earnings go to charity or someone in need, whether it’s donating popcorn gift baskets to local fundraisers or giving popcorn away to those serving in the military.

“This has happened by the grace of God, and we need to give back,” Cheryl said.

GROW Nebraska CEO Janell Anderson-Ehrke said Cheryl donates all of her mentoring services to pay it forward, which makes a huge difference for many business owners.

“She’s easily touched more than 100 businesses we’ve worked with,” Janell said.

In the early days of GROW, Chery helped set up a retail store in Grand Island and later launched the UPC program to help GROW members sell their products on sites like Amazon. Members who sell just one or two products can save money by buying into GROW’s UPC numbers instead of spending hundreds of dollars to purchase their own UPC number.

When GROW members ask about product labeling, Cheryl is their source for answers.

New GROW Nebraska member Karen Ogelsby, owner of MoKa’s Kitchen, recently relied on help from Cheryl with labeling her popcorn for sale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karen thought her business would be “dead in the water” when COVID-19 hit. Her business previously provided artisan and gourmet popcorn for special events. When the special events stopped, so did her business. Chery helped Karen find a distributor to make her popcorn products available in stores, where shoppers were still flocking to buy snacks during the pandemic. MoKa’s Kitchen popcorn is now in 50 locations across the state.

Janell said she is grateful for members like Cheryl who give back and wants to celebrate her and others.

“I don’t want to forget where we came from,” Janell said. “It’s been GROW and a whole bunch of people and members who just kept giving back.”

Cheryl said she’s always lived with the philosophy that there’s always enough business to go around. She’s not worried about helping her potential competitors.

“If I continue to make a quality product and do my business well, I shouldn’t have any problems,” she said.

Cheryl encourages anyone who is considering starting a business or developing a product to contact GROW Nebraska.

“There are lots of ways that GROW Nebraska can help,” she said.

One of the biggest benefits, Cheryl said, is the annual MarkeTech conference, which she has attended every year it has been offered.

“It’s a great benefit, and any member that I work with I encourage them to attend MarkeTech,” she said. “It’s well-organized, provides good networking opportunities and education. I encourage anyone in the state, even if you aren’t a member of GROW Nebraska, to participate in MarkeTech.”

The 2021 MarkeTech conference is scheduled for Thursday, July 15, in Kearney. For more information, visit marketechconference.com. To sign up for the GROW newsletter to stay informed on upcoming trainings, visit here.

With holiday popcorn sales just wrapping up, Cheryl said she is preparing to launch new popcorn flavors soon.

Story by Kristine Jacobson, GROW Nebraska member and owner of KRJ Public Relations, a business that specializes in helping non-profits and other businesses tell their stories and gain momentum through blogs, newsletters, annual reports, social media and other publications.

Simplify Holiday Shopping with GROW Nebraska Gift Boxes

Simplify Holiday Shopping with GROW Nebraska Gift Boxes

Simplify Holiday Shopping with

GROW Nebraska Gift Boxes

Whether your holiday shopping list includes family, friends, neighbors or business clients, there’s something for everyone at GROW Nebraska®. And, purchasing themed gift baskets from GROW or its members makes your shopping convenient and shows your support of entrepreneurs across the state.

GROW Nebraska® gift boxes or baskets can be ordered in any price range from $20 to $150+ and can include any of more than 3,500 GROW Nebraska® products from soaps and lotions to popcorn and t-shirts. You can design your own package, including the container or box. Or, if that seems too overwhelming, the GROW Nebraska® staff are happy to give suggestions and design the package for you.

Last year and again this year, GROW Nebraska® has the new option to personalize gift boxes (through Jayhawk Boxes) and can customize boxes with company logos and/or receivers’ names.

And while gift box orders increase during the holiday season, any time of year is a great time for made-in-Nebraska gifts.

Lincoln Realtor Johanna Rhoads, ReMAX Real Estate Concepts, wanted a more unique gift to give to her real estate clients this year.

Her husband, Adam, manages the non-profit organization Mystic Rhoads Productions Inc. and is a member of GROW Nebraska. He sells products like Jamaican Jerk Seasoning and Dirt Nap Dip Habanero Pepper Sauce to raise money for community causes.

“My wife always gives a gift to her clients,” Adam said. “The gifts were run-of-the-mill gifts from corporate businesses, and she asked me if I would come up with a more creative and personal gift to give to clients. We decided to put together themed baskets that feature Nebraska-made products.”

They chose three themes – coffee, wine and kitchen – and grouped items together to create unique gifts. The coffee basket includes handmade coffee cups made in Lincoln, corn tea (GROW member), a gift card to a local coffee shop and locally made toffee. The kitchen basket includes a Nebraska-shaped cutting board made in Lincoln, Mystic Rhoads Productions hot sauces and seasonings (GROW member) and Duck Fat Cooking Spray (GROW member). The wine basket includes a bottle of wine, RCK Creations wine glasses (GROW member), Mystic Rhoads Productions seasonings (GROW member) and locally made toffee.

Adam said Johanna has given out nearly 50 baskets this year, and they have been well received.

Other GROW Nebraska members, such as The Basket Case in Kearney and the From Nebraska Gift Store in Lincoln’s historic Haymarket also offer gift-basket services for holidays or other occasions.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s important to order gift boxes soon. One customer has already pre-ordered 150 Nebraska-product gift boxes, so the store will be busy with gift boxes throughout the holiday season!

To order gift baskets:

From GROW Nebraska: https://buynebraska.com/products/gifts or call the store at (308) 338-3520 or email info@grownebraska.org.

The Basket Case: https://members.grownebraska.org/list/member/the-basket-case-kearney-278

From Nebraska Gift Store: https://buynebraska.com/collections/from-nebraska-gift-shop

“By buying with GROW, the majority of each sale goes directly back into the pocket of entrepreneurs in our very own state,” said GROW’s Executive Director Janell Anderson Ehrke. “When you buy local, you are helping dreams come true for your neighbors. There’s no better gift than that!”

GROW Nebraska® Foundation is a statewide non-profit training and marketing organization. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.

“Nebraska. Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone” Merchandise for Sale

“Nebraska. Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone” Merchandise for Sale

“Nebraska. Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone”

Merchandise for Sale

Some people will write Nebraska off and never give it another thought. But for those special someone’s willing to give the state a chance, those who are curious, enlightened, suave, debonair (and other French words we can’t remember right now), there’s a “Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone,” t-shirt just waiting for you.

“With our new campaign’s continued popularity and success, we’re excited to capitalize on that popularity further by selling merchandise,” said John Ricks, Nebraska Tourism Commission executive director. “Since the moment we announced the campaign back in October we’ve been receiving requests left and right to buy t-shirts and mugs and we’re happy to finally fulfill those requests.”

Items for sale featuring the trademarked “Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone” logo include a short-sleeve unisex t-shirt, a unisex raglan-sleeved baseball tee and a coffee mug similar to the ones featured on LIVE with Kelly and Ryan. Order a shirt or mug here: https://buynebraska.com/collections/nebraska-tourism-commission. Don’t forgot to snap a picture of you and your new “honestly, it’s not for everyone,” item and post it on social media using #HonestlyNE.

In April, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB637, authorizing the Nebraska Tourism Commission to sell promotional products. Since then, NTC has been working on a plan of action for how best to sell these items. The promotional products will be sold through GROW Nebraska’s online store, BuyNebraska.com. Buy Nebraska is the largest Nebraska product online store, featuring over 3,500 products that originated in Nebraska.

Want to join in on all the “Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone” fun? Use #HonestlyNE on social media or order “The Official 2019 Not-At-All What You Thought State Travel Guide” at VisitNebraska.com

For more information about travel, events and unique destinations in Nebraska, order your free travel guide today at VisitNebraska.com. Then stay connected with Nebraska Tourism on our Visit Nebraska Facebook page, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram and on YouTube.

 

The mission of the Nebraska Tourism Commission is to expand Nebraska’s dynamic and diverse travel industry making it more viable by creating awareness, attracting increased visitors which results in greater tourism revenue and economic gain throughout the state. To learn more, go to VisitNebraska.com.

GROW Nebraska® Foundation is a statewide non-profit training and marketing organization. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.

GROW Partners With Nebraska’s Largest Environmental Nonprofit To Boost Coffee Sales & Mission

GROW Partners With Nebraska’s Largest Environmental Nonprofit To Boost Coffee Sales & Mission

GROW Partners With Nebraska’s Largest Environmental Nonprofit To Boost Coffee Sales & Mission

The Arbor Day Foundation has partnered with GROW Nebraska to boost sales of its Arbor Day Coffee and to help further spread the organization’s mission.

“GROW Nebraska is a wonderful platform to help spread our mission and try some new marketing tools that we have not tried before,” said Kara Ficke, business development manager for Arbor Day Coffee. “We are excited about the partnership to spread the mission of Arbor Day Foundation and introduce Arbor Day Coffee to a growing audience.”

Coffee beans for Arbor Day Coffee are sustainably grown under the canopy of rain forests and then roasted, creating a richer cup of coffee. The Arbor Day Foundation has been producing and marketing the coffee for 20 years, and the sales of the coffee help support the work of the nonprofit foundation to protect and plant more trees.

Conventional coffee farming practices often involve clear-cutting large areas of the rain forest in an attempt to maximize production. This intense method may increase yield and productivity in the short term but ultimately leads to land degradation including soil depletion, loss of plant and animal biodiversity, and frequent landslides…which leads to increased carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and climate change. This is also concerning for the people that call these farms home.

“I think our biggest benefit of our new partnership with GROW is the opportunity to let more people know about the work that is happening at the Arbor Day Foundation and really bring forward the environmental impact that trees have.  Our mission is truly to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees,” Kara said.

Arbor Day Coffee is available through the Foundation’s website, its coffee club, wholesale accounts and through distributors. Kara said she is hoping the new partnership with GROW Nebraska will open up new markets by introducing Arbor Day Coffee to local grocery stores, coffee shops and gift stores. In addition, Arbor Day Coffee is now available on GROW’s Buy Nebraska online store. 

In 2022, the Arbor Day Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary, which will also be the 150th anniversary of the Arbor Day holiday.

“With this anniversary approaching, The Arbor Day Foundation is aspiring to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities around the globe, and we’ll do this by inspiring 5 million tree planters to help carry the mission forward,” Kara said. “The Arbor Day Coffee program will be contributing to this goal.”

Not Just For Businesses

GROW Nebraska CEO Janell Anderson Ehrke said GROW Nebraska works with many nonprofit organizations across the state.

“Most people don’t think of GROW Nebraska as working with non-profits,” Janell said. “Arbor Day Foundation is Nebraska’s crown jewel. It’s thrilling for GROW Nebraska to be working with them to be marketing this phenomenal coffee product and to expand its mission awareness.”

Many other nonprofit organizations, such as the Willa Cather Foundation, the Nebraska Prairie Museum, Water4Haiti and L2Kids, are also GROW members.

In addition to helping spread the word about the Arbor Day Foundation’s mission, Janell said she is also excited about expanding coffee sales to support that mission.

“We were thrilled to have the opportunity to provide those growth strategies for the Arbor Day Foundation,” Janell said.

GROW has launched or expanded online shopping opportunities for many businesses, including Dorothy Lynch and Gary’s Quick Steak. Janell said sometimes GROW ships as many as 60 cases a day of Dorothy Lynch salad dressing to places around the country.

“Online shopping is not going to go away,” Janell said. “The more we can also help each other, the better.”

For more information about GROW Nebraska and its membership opportunities, visit https://grownebraska.org/join/

Story by GROW Nebraska member Kristine Jacobson, www.krjpr.com.