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