When I first started attending conferences over a decade ago, people would see the “NE” on my business cards and ask if I was from Newfoundland or New England! When I’d reply “Nebraska”, I’d get the standard smartass replies like “You have internet there?” or “Do you even have paved streets?” Half of the time, I don’t think they were joking when asking.
Today people actually may know someone else from Nebraska, although most people I meet at conferences have never visited Nebraska (and have no intention to). But I’m pretty sure they all know who the richest and most respected businessmen in the world is – Warren Buffett, who lives right in Omaha, Nebraska.
It doesn’t hurt that Warren Buffett is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (the fifth largest public company in the world) that owns a diverse range of businesses including some of the following online stores that are based in Nebraska.
- Buckle – Formerly known as the Brass Buckle, their headquarters are in Kearney, Nebraska, where I attended Kearney State College (before it was changed to the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK). The (Brass) Buckle would bring their rejects and overstocks to the Goodwill store on Tuesdays back then, so the college students would flock to shop there. Today, you can search “factory” on Buckle.com and get great deals for half price or less (you can thank me later).
- Bulu Box – Shoemoney introduced me to Paul, the CEO of this company that offers monthly subscription sample boxes of vitamin and supplements.
- Cabela’s – The original Cabela’s is located in Sidney, Nebraska, but they had a call center in Kearney when I lived there where a lot of my friends had part time jobs taking orders (pre-internet days).
- eCreamery – I first heard this online ice cream and gelato shop in Omaha from watching Shark Tank (Brian Littleton recommended in his keynote at Affiliate Summit that people should watch “Shark Tank” and “The Profit”).
- Hayneedle – I’m glad they decided to put all of their niche specialty stores under one domain name, i.e. Hammocks.com now redirects their hammock category.
- GiftCertificates.com – Too bad they couldn’t see into the future and register the GiftCards.com domain name.
- Nebraska Furniture Mart – NFM is the only company on the list that does not have an affiliate program. Obviously that has not stopped me from shopping at NFM (read about one of my adventures).
- Omaha Steaks – Nebraska really does have the best beef – unfortunately some of that flavor is lost when shipped across the country.
- Oriental Trading Company – From wholesaler to direct marketer, they have been selling party, craft and school supplies for 80 years, via catalogs and now the internet.
- VMInnovations – I met Kush Abdulleov back in 2011 at a ShareASale Think Tank event and was very impressed with the company. The employee benefits alone (free paid vacations) is incentive to move to Lincoln. They’ve grown by leaps and bounds since I first met Kush, and they are now rebranding to Spreetail (I personally think that is a better name for a website).
PayPal is not an online store per se, but it is notable to know that they opened their company’s operations center in Omaha in 1999.
So, Nebraska may still be behind on the latest fashion trends, but it’s proven that we are full of innovation. And with Nebraska’s low cost of living, the state is becoming even more enticing for entrepreneurs. Now if we could just regulate the weather. And our football team.