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South Dakota men turn Flyover Country into budding brand

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Vaney Hariri already knew what people would say when they found out where he was from:

“What’s in South Dakota?”

“What is there to do?”

“Why would you live there?”

“That’s flyover country.”

South Dakota and the Midwest is more than a filler state, though. It’s filled with people who are making a difference in their communities, pursuing their passions and calling this “flyover country” home, he said.

So, he decided to take ownership in the insult.

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.”

They settled on a simple airplane design, displayed on T-shirts, sweatshirts, masks and other apparel pieces. But it’s not just a piece of clothing: it’s a message, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

“People can buy stuff from whoever, but for us it’s about having a real connection and teaching each other about each other,” Hariri said.

To accompany their products, the two create video series interviewing people in Sioux Falls about why they live in South Dakota and what difference they’re making while living here. Eventually, the two want to expand to interview people across the region.

Scott Heckel, co-owner and head brewer at Severance Brewing Co., shared his story with Flyover Country to inspire others who grew up in the Midwest and “thought they had to move out to accomplish something.”

“We could have tried to start a brewery anywhere,” the Aberdeen native said. “But we saw the potential in Sioux Falls and thought it was a good opportunity to celebrate what my wife and I believe in and stick to our Midwest roots.”

“Every winter when the temperature drops, you ask why you live here, and you reflect on those things that make you want to stay,” he added.

Heckel partnered with Flyover Country to launch a collaboration beer called “Why you’re here” beer, which is brewed with local ingredients from flyover country. The beer includes grain from Two Track Malting in Bismarck, North Dakota and hops from Herds to Hops in western Sioux Falls.

The launch party for the beer will also release Flyover County’s latest limited release shirt, which features the Sioux Falls flag inside its logo. Hariri believes the limited edition T-shirts will sell out quickly, so they’ll have pre-order sales on their website through the end of May.

“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.”

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