GROW Nebraska’s partnerships with state agencies ‘a win-win’
Three state agencies turned to GROW Nebraska to launch and manage e-commerce sales of Nebraska products.
“Most state agencies don’t have the manpower to create their own e-commerce websites and manage product distribution, and that’s one of the areas we excel in,” GROW Nebraska CEO Janell Anderson Ehrke said.
Nebraska Tourism Commission
The partnerships started in 2019 with the Nebraska Tourism Commission, which wanted to sell merchandise with its popular slogan “Nebraska. Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone.”
When readers of the Visit Nebraska official website click on the page’s Gift Shop link, they are connected to GROW’s Buy Nebraska website where they can buy t-shirts, hoodies, magnets and coffee mugs.
Since September 2019, GROW has sold more than 3,000 items shipped to all 50 states for the Nebraska Tourism Commission.
“What’s been unbelievably great is that once we get someone to the Buy Nebraska site, they are exposed to all of the other GROW products,” Anderson Ehrke said. “We may have gotten an extra sale for Lucky Jerky in Holdrege or some other small business. Once we get them to the site, we have a chance to sell them something else.
History Nebraska Good Life Signs
In September of 2020, a second state agency, History Nebraska, partnered with GROW Nebraska to launch and manage e-commerce sales.
History Nebraska started producing and selling small replicas of the welcome to Nebraska the Good Life highway signs.
Chris Goforth, marketing and sales manager at History Nebraska, said his organization created the signs to give people the chance to bring a piece of history into their homes with authentic replicas.
“We are always looking for ways to highlight Nebraska’s history,” Goforth said. “The Good Life signs we see on the highways across the state have been a part of our history since the early 1970s, and it’s something that every Nebraskan seems to recognize.”
The 2 foot-by-1-foot miniature versions of the popular green signs have been wildly popular. In just more than six months, GROW Nebraska has sold and shipped more than 450 signs to 35 states. They were a big hit for holiday giving.
Goforth said he believes the Good Life signs are so popular because they are as recognizable to Nebraskans as the State Capitol Building.
“It serves as an icon that speaks to the heart of so many people,” he said. “As Nebraskans, we hold the sign’s motto of the good life to heart, and it means something special to everyone. We are excited to see that so many people have come to love the signs as much as we have.”
Goforth said History Nebraska partnered with GROW to sell the signs because it wanted to work with an organization that could help it develop an online shopping presence.
“We also wanted to work with an organization that shared our passion for Nebraska and focused its efforts on assisting Nebraska businesses and people,” he said.
Goforth explained the sign sales help further History Nebraska’s mission of collecting, preserving and sharing Nebraska’s history.
“The revenue generated by sign sales helps to fund that mission so that future generations will be able to study and learn from Nebraska history,” he said.
The Good Life sign is sold exclusively online through GROW Nebraska, but it can also be purchased in person at the Buy Nebraska store in Kearney, Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln, the Chimney Rock Museum near Bayard and the Fort Robinson History Center at Fort Robinson State Park.
Nebraska Game & Parks Centennial
The third state agency to partner with GROW Nebraska for e-commerce sales is the Nebraska Game and Parks. Its partnership with GROW started in January as the Game and Parks geared up to celebrate its centennial in 2021.
“What better way to celebrate Nebraska’s state parks than by joining with an organization that supports Nebraskans through economic development?” said Margot DesRocher, Nebraska Game and Parks reservation program manager and volunteer coordinator. “It’s a win-win. Partnering with GROW Nebraska has allowed to us promote and sell our centennial merchandise without having to rely on internal staff to handle the mechanics of fulfilling orders, so we can continue to focus on what we do best – providing outdoor recreation opportunities for Nebraskans and visitors.”
The Game and Parks is selling ceramic mugs, tumblers, a flexible flyer, outdoor waist packs, stickers, t-shirts, iron-on patches and commemorative challenge coins through Buy Nebraska.
In less than three months, GROW has shipped 324 Nebraska Game and Parks centennial gift items to 15 states besides Nebraska.
“Working with GROW Nebraska has been great,” DesRocher said. “GROW Nebraska’s professional services represent us well to our customers, and we appreciate the detail with which our account is handled. We also enjoy having the flexibility to discuss new ideas with the GROW Nebraska team to discover what works best as we develop our online merchandise program.”
Story by Kristine Jacobson, GROW Nebraska member and owner of KRJ Public Relations (krjpr.com), a business that helps non-profits and businesses tell their stories and gain momentum through blogs, newsletters, annual reports, social media and other publications.