I-Spy SanMar: Road Trip Edition

June 7, 2024

With Memorial Day weekend in the books and June on the calendar, road trip season has officially arrived. It’s a time to discover new places and experience new things. It’s also a time of opportunity in the promotional market.

My wife and I recently saw this firsthand as we drove our new RV halfway across the country for my mom’s college graduation (you read that right). On our way, I couldn’t help but play a SanMar employee’s favorite game — I-Spy SanMar.

Our road trip rig

The rules are simple: Be observant and keep an eye out for SanMar gear. You’ll soon realize it’s basically everywhere. Here are just a few examples I managed to capture during our journey.

National Treasures

It’s hard to imagine a cross-country road trip without visiting at least one of America’s 429 national parks, which received over 325 million visits last year alone. With those kinds of numbers, national parks can be a powerhouse source of promotional goods. From shirts to mugs to you-name-it, they’ve got it.

On our trip, we spent time in Yellowstone National Park and the Badlands, where we spotted our Perfect Tri and the Very Important Tee from District in the wild, as well as many bison and a few grizzly bears.

Yellowstone and the Badlands

Foodie Destinations

The Safehouse - MilwaukeeNo journey is quite complete without discovering a good meal along the way. In fact, food is the destination for some road trippers. With this in mind, a smart restaurant will have merch available to grateful patrons as well as branded clothing for their employees.

Wheat Montana - MissoulaOnce her graduation was official, we took my mom to the Safehouse in downtown Milwaukee, a unique speakeasy that you enter through an unmarked door in an alleyway (and I hope you know the passcode!). I walked away with a new BELLA+CANVAS tee, one of many they had available within.

On the way home, we stopped by a Wheat Montana deli and discovered some of the finest pastries I’ve ever eaten. I immediately noticed their colorful Port & Company shirts, including several in eye-catching tie-dye.

Home Is Where You Park It

Have you ever noticed how many RV parks there are on the road? Believe it or not, there are over 15,000 places to stay in your RV across the United States and Canada, each offering their own unique brand of hospitality. Many also have merch available to help you remember the experience, making these little havens an untapped pool of business in your area.

Some of our favorites on the trip were Larsson’s Crooked Creek Resort, Custer Crossing Family Campground, Adventure Bound Beaver Trails and the garden-themed Jim & Mary’s RV Park. Each of these places went out of their way to make us feel welcome, and seeing shirts in their gift shop from Port Authority, Port & Company, District and Rabbit Skins made them feel that much closer to home.

RV parks

Strange Attractions

Wall Drug - South DakotaFor me, a road trip isn’t complete without meandering into at least a few unusual roadside attractions. From the World’s Largest Ball of Twine to Carhenge…who could resist seeing these for themselves? Many of these spots recognize that it’s good business to have at least a few items on hand for fans of the weird like me.

Deadwood - South DakotaWe had many “pull over!” moments to explore some oddball thing or another, but there were a few standouts. Wall Drug is practically a national landmark, with billboards pointing toward it from hundreds of miles away. One of their many shops sells almost nothing but shirts, with BELLA+CANVAS being a big favorite in the selection.

On our way out of Deadwood, South Dakota, I decided we needed to see Mount Moriah Cemetery, the final resting site of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock. It’s a beautiful old-style graveyard with a small gift shop that offers Port & Company tees, amongst other memorable merch.

Finally, I’m sure some attractions can out-weird the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota, but they’d be hard-pressed to out-merch them. The museum boasts an impressive array of tees, polos and fleece alongside all the exhibits, all promoting their historic and unique brand of canned meat.

The SPAM Museum - Austin

The Road Goes Ever On

One thing our little there and back again getaway taught me is that there’s so much to see that I didn’t know about before we left. From the popular “gotta-see-it” destinations to the many unexpected surprises along the way, my wife and I came away with a taste for exploration and a thirst for new memorable experiences.

I hope seeing some of the SanMar gear I found inspires you to tap into this feeling — both for yourself, and for your business. We can all use a vacation these days. And when we get out there, a great t-shirt to remember the journey by makes it even better.