Local salesman Vaney Hariri is selling t-shirts and masks branded “Flyover Country” to make a buck and instill some defiant community pride in Sioux Falls and South Dakota. He’s also collecting stories from fellow businesspeople telling why they are sticking around South Dakota to seek their fortunes.
But he’d better be careful: his messaging seems to be getting off the brand dictated by South Dakota’s Snow Queen of Marketing, Kristi Noem. In a news story last week, Hariri dared suggest that identifying as a South Dakotan means more than killing pheasants:
Hariri, co-owner in Think3D solutions, started the Flyover Country apparel line in June 2020 alongside Joshua Novak, who founded Main St. Media House.
And the business is growing quickly. The two are renting space in downtown to store their products, and Hariri said they might consider a storefront at some point in the journey.
While there are plenty of state pride shirts already, the two didn’t find something that united the entire area.
“I love repping this state, but I’m not going to wear a pheasant,” Hariri said. “This is not an anti-coast thing. This is a pro-us thing. This is loving where you’re from and investing in your community” [Makenzie Huber, “South Dakota Men Turn Flyover Country into Budding Brand,” AP, 2021.05.05].
On top of challenging ornithocidal orthodoxy, Hariri dares suggest that living in and loving South Dakota can involve seeking to change South Dakota:
“Be here on purpose. Be here because you want to help make this community one to be proud of,” Hariri said. “For so long we would lose a lot of our youth because they sought out more diversity, culture and opportunities outside their home. Now we’re starting to witness people coming home and staying home. The better option is always staying here and making it better” [Huber, 2021.05.05].
Be here on purpose. Stay here and make South Dakota better. Hmm… that would sound better on a t-shirt than “You can come be with South Dakota, you just can’t change us.”