Locals and visitors alike are going crazy for products that promote the places they love.

June 22, 2023
Ida Red General Store is stocked with Tulsa, Oklahoma, goods for visitors and locals.

A trip to From Nebraska Gift Shop is more than just a shopping excursion. It usually begins with wine tasting at the James Arthur Vineyards Tasting Room next door. Located in Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket, From Nebraska Gift Shop is a prime location for customers looking for gifts, souvenirs and the store’s famous food gift baskets.
And you can’t get far in the store without encountering named-dropped merchandise at every turn.

“We sell everything Nebraska — items made in Nebraska and items that are branded Nebraska,” says Owner Barb Ballard. “We range from magnets to wine.”

Name-dropped items available include coffee mugs, adult T-shirts, kids’ T-shirts, magnets, frames, koozies, plush animals, toys, Christmas ornaments, shot glasses, wine glasses and beer glasses.

“We put the shot glasses, beer glasses, and wine glasses by our wine tasting bar,” Ballard notes. The most popular name-drop items are by far the shot glasses, magnets and coffee mugs, according to Ballard.

T-shirts are top sellers at Ida Red General Store locations.

And the popularity of these items are strong sellers among all demographics. “Magnets are universal among all age groups, as well as coffee mugs,” says Ballard, who notes, “Young adults purchase shot glasses more.”

Grandparents looking for something for the grandkids purchase plush animals and have an assortment of toys to choose from — sling shots, trains, trucks and more — that are branded both Nebraska and also with kids’ names. The store has an entire children’s area with racks dedicated to each kind of toy.

“Magnets are universal among all age groups, as well as coffee mugs.” — Barb Ballard, From Nebraska Gift Shop

Ballard says people are drawn to name-drops because “it’s a souvenir, a memory of their visit to Nebraska.”
And the name Lincoln drives sales for more reasons than it being the city’s namesake.

“We are fortunate that we are in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the name Lincoln is currently a popular name for young boys,” Ballard says. “We sell a large range of children’s shirts and plush animals with the name Lincoln on them, so sales are two-fold — a souvenir of the visit to Lincoln, Nebraska, or a gift for a child named Lincoln.”

Local pride

While tourism creates a big draw for name-drop items in tourist destinations, mother and daughter duo Pam and Alyssa Smith had an additional demographic in mind when they opened Locally, Yours in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

“We started back in 2018 when I was still in college with the idea that our town was missing some really cool local apparel,” Alyssa says. “We started focusing on landmarks in our town that aren’t necessarily for the tourists so we do local beaches and places that the locals really love and love to represent.”

Customers can find a variety of apparel and coastal gifts like candles, coasters, home decor and pillows. Alyssa describes the store as having a coastal touch without being “too over the top.” “Everything is whitewashed with gray tones. Just the perfect amount of flair.”

“Locals like to represent where they come from in the apparel they choose, and the home decor that has their hometown on it is just a reminder of where they come from.” — Alyssa Smith, Locally, Yours

White Horse Beach; Long Beach; Bug Light; the local lighthouse; and Brown’s Bank, a sandbar that can only be reached by boat, are among the local hot spots that can be found on various items in the store.

Name-dropped merchandise is at every turn at the From Nebraska Gift Shop.

Hoodies, coffee mugs and pillows are some of the popular name-drop items that locals flock to. And it’s not just the name of the location. The local ZIP code 02360 and the latitude longitude coordinates, 41.9584 N, 70.673 W, get a lot of traction. The store also sells a fair number of hats and apparel that play up the town’s nickname, America’s Hometown.

“Locals like to represent where they come from in the apparel they choose, and the home decor that has their hometown on it is just a reminder of where they come from,” says Alyssa. “We also have a lot of people in town that have beach houses and the items also mean a lot to them.”

Visitors to the store also know they are getting something unique. Pam is a graphic designer and Alyssa studied fashion merchandising in college. They design all the logos that appear on the apparel, glassware and tea towels.

“They are getting something totally custom, something they aren’t going to find at any other store on the waterfront,” says Alyssa.

Best of both worlds

The merchandise at Ida Red General Store, which has three stores in Tulsa, Okahoma, caters to visitors and locals, depending on the location.

Natalie Searle, an assistant manager, says, “We sell a lot of Oklahoma and Tulsa goodies — a lot of state pride, but we also have a lot of fun knickknacks and gifts for everyone.”

“I think people really like the designs and they like how they look so they just want to take one home with them.” — Natalie Searle, Ida Red General Store

The store’s Main Street location caters to a lot of visitors, and while visitors to the area also stop in the Yale Street and Peoria Avenue locations, those stores also see a fair share of local foot traffic.

And whether the shopper is a traveler or calls Tulsa home, they tend to gravitate toward the store’s wide selection of T-shirts.

At Locally, Yours, it’s not just the location name on goods that sells, but also the ZIP code and latitude and longitude.

“Probably our most popular one is our ‘Someone in Tulsa Loves Me’ shirt,” notes Searle. The design also appears on coasters and mugs.

“It’s just a very popular style,” Searle adds. “We also have our ‘Oklahoma, It’s not that Bad’ T-shirt and that is on a mug as well. Those are some really popular ones that people always get a laugh out of.”

T-shirt designs tend to all be Oklahoma or Tulsa-themed inside Ida Red, whether it is a catchy phrase or a cute design, according to Searle. “We try to incorporate that so a lot of people traveling can pick out a T-shirt they like and then they’ll have it to remember Oklahoma by with a little souvenir.”

Searle says people buy the T-shirts for different reasons. “I think it is a mixture of showing off our state pride or representing Oklahoma or just picking up a little souvenir on their trip, having a piece to remember it by or a new piece of clothing that they like.”

I think people really like the designs and they like how they look so they just want to take one home with them.”