For business partners Alfie Olafson and Victoria Moreno, the life on the road can be full of surprises. As traveling salespeople, they look for demand and try to travel to where it is to offer supply. While displaying their imported blankets and rugs in Elko, they realized they were just a few hours away from a lot of demand and little supply.
“We spent a week in Elko and all we kept hearing was how we needed to go to Ely,” Olafson said.
So once their week was up, they packed their wares and drove to Ely. With the help of the Veterans of Foreign Wars office, they found themselves an eye-grabbing spot on the side of the road.
“Ed Sturgess at the VFW was super helpful in letting us use space next to their building. So far it has been working, I mean you can’t miss us, we are right next to a tank!” Moreno said.
The pair offer different bed-sized blankets, featuring a range of artwork from cowboys and Bob Marley to brands of popular television shows.
“The most popular items we’ve sold here in Ely are the Monster Energy Drink and Fox Racing logos as well as Marilyn Monroe,” Moreno said.
“Monroe is popular no matter where you go,” Olafson added.
The meek blankets, which range in size from twin to king, are imported from artists around the world.
“We get them from artists in Korea, China, Japan, all over the place,” Moreno said.
Olafson first encountered the blankets over 30 years ago when he was working as an auctioneer. He sold them for a short while and moved on but was reintroduced to them in 2000 when Moreno became interested in them. As it turns out, Ely shoppers have taken to the warm and fuzzy blankets pretty quickly.
“We’ve done well up here,” Moreno said, adding that they plan on staying in town for seven to 10 days depending on how the sales keep up.
Blankets aren’t the only thing they sell either. Olafson said that the two offer a wide variety of nice rugs, though the wind has held him up from hanging them.
The meek blankets range in price from $50-$85 depending on the artwork and the rugs range from $50 to $165.
According to Olafson, the duo might return to Ely in the future to set up a more permanent business.
“I’ve been traveling for 30 years and I’m winding down,” he said. “We’ve been looking for a place to set up a business and it seems like Ely might be a good fit somewhere in the future.”
Olafson and Moreno operate as Southwest Auction and Rainbow unlimited and can be found next to the VFW.