The From Nebraska Gift Shop is GROWing!

The From Nebraska Gift Shop is GROWing!

The From Nebraska Gift Shop is GROWing!

Despite losing thousands of shoppers due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of Husker football games earlier this fall, the From Nebraska Gift Shop in Lincoln’s Haymarket is looking to brighter days with a recent store expansion and enhanced marketing efforts.

On Memorial Day weekend, the owners of From Nebraska opened the Haymarket Mercantile that features classic toys, men’s gifts, kitchen and bath décor, a year-round Christmas store and their new Curveball Ciders on tap.

The expansion was made possible after another business vacated the space next to From Nebraska at 803 Q Street in Lincoln.

Store owner Barb Ballard said after seeing an 88 percent decline in business in April and May, they are down by only 33 percent for the year as of the end of September.

Barb has amped up her business-to-business marketing to encourage employers to purchase gift baskets for their employees while they are working at home during the pandemic. She also is planning a Christmas shopping campaign on local television stations to encourage Nebraskans to send “Made in Nebraska” gifts this holiday season.

Barb and her husband, Jim, own the From Nebraska Gift Shop, the new Haymarket Mercantile and James Arthur Vineyards. The couple purchased the From Nebraska Gift Store, which features a tasting room for their wines, six years ago and have slowly expanded the business.

She said GROW Nebraska has been an important partner for their business.

“GROW Nebraska does a really good job of advertising what they have available, and it seems to reach a lot of people so it gives us a bigger customer base,” Barb said.

She features several GROW Nebraska member products in her store, including longtime members Preferred Popcorn and Dorothy Lynch and new member Sue’s Creative Confections.

Barb said she and GROW have a great partnership and often refer products to each other. She also sends potential new product businesses to GROW for technical assistance.

“It’s a nice relationship because I can turn them over to GROW because GROW has expertise in certain areas, such as packaging and labeling,” Barb said. “That’s invaluable to me to have GROW to send these makers to so they can improve their packaging.”

Barb attributes some of the store’s recent growth to her consistently staying on top of customer trends by reading trade magazines and noticing what is trending on the coasts that will soon be popular in the Midwest. She recently noticed a trend in honeybees and started offering honeybee décor and paired it with Nebraska-made honey.

From Nebraska features more than 100 products made in Nebraska plus another 150 products that are Nebraska-related, such as coffee mugs, t-shirts, snow globes, magnets and other products that tourists want to buy. Like GROW Nebraska, Barb also sells gift baskets with Nebraska products.

“It’s a win-win for both of us,” Barb said of her relationship with GROW. “We are both trying to make Nebraska businesses thrive.”

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.

New Partnership Gives GROW Members Space at Event

New Partnership Gives GROW Members Space at Event

New Partnership Gives GROW Members Space at Event

A new partnership between Lincoln’s From Nebraska Gift Shop and GROW Nebraska allows members a free opportunity to reach hundreds of farmer’s market customers.

Barbara Ballard, owner of the From Nebraska store in Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket, invites GROW Nebraska members to sample and sell food products on a Saturday morning during the Lincoln Historic Haymarket Farmer’s Market.

It’s a great opportunity for business owners to test the waters on products. As a bonus, if sales are brisk, products may be sold from the shelves of the From Nebraska Gift Shop.

That’s what already happened with Herbal Gatherings mustard, a Lincoln-based company that offered tastings one Saturday.

“Depending on sales, we’ll decide if we will stock it,” Barbara said. “We try not to have 12 different kinds of salsa and 12 different kinds of mustard on our shelves. We try to be selective and put the finest products Nebraska has to offer.”

In addition, she looks for products with attractive packaging, a long shelf life and the ability to be quickly restocked. Products must also be manufactured or produced in Nebraska.

Barbara said she’d like to encourage at least two or maybe three businesses to offer tastings each week at the farmer’s market through October. Businesses will be offered space on the store’s outdoor dock at 803 Q Street to gain the most exposure. Owners must commit to being there and offering samples between 9 a.m. and noon or until the crowds thin down.

Between 300 and 600 customers will stop by the store during the farmer’s market to sample foods, cool off inside the store or enjoy wine slushies, Barbara said.

She recommends creating a unique display to go along with the tastings.

“We really encourage folks to have some kind of signage that tells about them,” she said. “People love a story. Tell your story in signage because you will have a little bit of a line.”

Barbara said From Nebraska will be expanding in January, and the farmer’s market opportunity reflects the new business model.

“Instead of just having a space on our shelves, you will have an opportunity to have your own display or kiosk,” she said.

To sign up for an opportunity to sell and sample at the From Nebraska Gift Shop during the farmer’s market, please complete the application here:

All products sold during the Saturday events will be rang up by the From Nebraska Gift Shop register, and GROW Nebraska members will be paid wholesale price.

For more information about the From Nebraska Gift Shop, please visit the store’s GROW Nebraska member page.