HOLBROOK, NEB. (January 26, 2009)—What began as a holiday store has expanded to a year-round GROW Nebraska store at the Conestoga Mall in Grand Island. GROW Nebraska opened its first year-round store in the Kearney Hilltop Mall in August 2007. The additional Grand Island location is a response to shoppers enthusiastic support of Nebraska entrepreneurs and businesses.
The store also is attracting GROW members who want hands-on experience in operating a retail business. By working directly with consumers, the members are learning firsthand about what sells and why. Store managers Don and Jeanie Reynolds and daughter Molly Johnsen oversee the trainees.
“Our members are getting to see what does and doesn’t sell, and evaluate what needs to be changed, whether it’s packaging, price, or product,” Janell Anderson Ehrke, GROW Nebraska founder and CEO.
Working in the stores lets GROW members network with other entrepreneurs and learn how to create seasonal and holiday gift baskets for specialty markets. Several members are even working together to produce combination gift baskets. All products sold in the GROW Nebraska year-round stores are available online at www.buygrownebraska.com
Janell Anderson Ehrke, GROW Nebraska CEO, believes that the retail stores and ecommerce site are greatly helping expand GROW Nebraska members’ product appeal and markets. “We are very excited to offer this service to our members as this is exactly what our funders and supporters want GROW Nebraska to do–support local economies by growing businesses.
“These growth platforms mean additional jobs, or in a few cases, company survival,” Ehrke said. “Also there’s no better way to stimulate the state’s overall economy than to provide Nebraskans with the opportunity to buy Nebraska-made products.”
The Grand Island GROW Nebraska store will be open seven days a week and staff two full-time employees. Ehrke said, “This is a project that gives 100% back to the local economy—either to the entrepreneur, the employee, the mall, or the state in sales tax.”
Cindy Johnson, president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce has noted the pride Nebraskans have in their state and the products it offers. “During the holidays I overheard two women discussing the great products at the GROW store they were going to send to their relatives out of state,” Johnson said.
Molly Johnsen said, “We are keeping the store open so people have a place to purchase products actually made in Nebraska. I heard over and over how nice it was to have some place to purchase things not made in another country. Our customers were really impressed with the variety of Nebraska-made products. With the economic times I think this is what people are looking for.”
Reynolds agreed that Nebraska consumers are looking to buy local products. He said, “The people at the Grand Island store really enjoyed the opportunity to meet the members of GROW Nebraska and were impressed with the people that brought product to our store. The customers here in December were very pleased that they had the opportunity to purchase quality merchandise that was produced locally. ‘Buy American’ and ‘Buy Local’ were common themes during the holiday season.”
A program of Central Plains Foundation Inc., GROW Nebraska helps maximize the state’s entrepreneurial spirit and build the global reputation of Nebraska businesses by providing sustainable business environments through business-building marketing and education. To learn more about GROW Nebraska, or Nebraska entrepreneurs and businesses, visit the GROW Web site at: www.grownebraska.com
The Sandhills…..What? Where? When? How?
These are four of the questions that may be asked most often about the sandhills, and I will try to answer them as briefly as possible.
What do the sandhills look like?
There are regions of gently rolling hills and areas of giant dunes, which have long since grassed over. In parts of the sandhills, lakes are abundant and on these lakes the waterfowl are numerous in the summer. There are very rough and choppy hills near the rivers, and many of the rivers are winding and treeless, but some are abundant with cedars and other trees.
Throughout the sandhills, the hills are dotted with soap weeds, or known more formally as yucca. They are beautiful when in full bloom around the first part of June. The bloom is on a tall, woodlike spike, and it has white blossoms which are quite pretty against the green background.
The sandhills are mostly grassed over since the cowboy has been in charge. Only a few blowouts and washouts interrupt the sea of green.
Where can these sandhills be found?
They span nearly two-thirds of the state of Nebraska. This is roughly 200 miles long and 150 miles wide. The sandhills are a vast region, of which the major portions are in the state of Nebraska. They also include a very small portion in South Dakota to the north and Wyoming to the west. Also to our southwest, they lie in the state of Colorado and into Kansas, Oklahoma and even into Texas.
When were they first populated by the Native Americans?
I can’t tell you that, as I have no data on that before the 1700s. But one of the early archeological finds in the immediate sandhills area was that of the Apaches. The ruins of Apache homes were uncovered on the Dismal River. They were here as early as the 1700s and until 1728. It is thought that the wars with the Pawnee may have moved them out of the region.
By the 1820s, the Pawnee were one of the most powerful tribes of the Great Plains. At this time, their hunting area was from the Niobrara River on the north and as far south as the Arkansas River, from the tall grass area in eastern Nebraska, west to as far as the high plains of eastern Colorado. Their raiding and trading was being done as far as Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In the summer of 1831, the Pawnee came down with smallpox, taking the lives of about one-half of their people. What was worse, the disease took almost all of those under the age of 33, which greatly reduced their fighting force. In their weakened condition the Sioux began to harass them and by 1860 the Pawnee were facing a real possibility of extinction. By the late 1700s, the Oglala and Brule Sioux were hunting throughout western Nebraska. The Sioux were now the dominant force in the sandhills.
How did the sandhills become populated by the whites, especially the breed known as the cowboy?
Thousands of people headed west, following the Oregon Trail along the Platte River. They were just a stone’s throw away from the sandhills. No one was interested in heading north into this region. It appeared to them to be a sandy desert, as there were accounts of people entering into this region and never being seen again.
In 1796, a Scotsman by the name of James McKay described the Sandhills as a great desert of drifting sand, void of any animals or trees. This idea was reinforced by later explorers who said that the sandhills were not only barren, but also impractical for travel.
By the 1870s, the cattlemen settled in the range areas surrounding the sandhills. Frank North, commander of the Pawnee Scouts, went into partnership with his brothers and Buffalo Bill Cody.
Frank North is credited with having the first ranch that had its headquarters inside the Nebraska Sandhills. He is listed in the Cowboy Hall of Fame for this fact.
By the 1880s, the cowboys were getting acquainted with the fact that the sandhills had the best grass and water anywhere in the country. The cattlemen were beginning to get the sandhills pretty well settled up and it has been cattle land ever since that time.
Source: The Voice of the Sandhills, Spring Edition, Tryon NE 2006.