The first-ever souvenir shop for the Bears Ears National Monument has opened in Blanding, UT. Tamy Jaramillo, owner of Yak’s Café, released her line of Bears Ears merchandise on January 1.
Jaramillo opened the souvenir shop in her restaurant and it has expanded to an online store. Jaramillo’s café is one of the first businesses you see coming into Blanding from the north. Her original and exclusive products are now listed on Amazon, Etsy, and of course, her own website: yaks.cafe.
In the aftermath of the Bears Ears Monument fights, debates, and changes Jaramillo states that she knows some locals will not approve of what she is doing. And, because of that, this is a project she has thought long and hard about.
But she insists that she would rather see visitors spending money on products that are locally created and sold than spend money purchasing products outside of town.
“If I didn’t do it,” Jaramillo stated, “some big outside company would take the lead and do it. We are not a well-kept secret anymore!”
Jaramillo confided that she has seen more and more visitors over the last two years and the numbers keep going up. She said that most of them come asking questions about what was once Bears Ears National Monument. Her philosophy? They are already coming, who do we want to benefit?
Jaramillo, who did not want the original Bears Ears National Monument, insists that she is not embracing the monument but feels it should be utilized to help local artists and businesses.
Jaramillo’s souvenir shop has directly impacted three local businesses and three local artists thus far. She hopes that as she grows and sells, those numbers will only increase.
She is excited to see this small shop grow and looks forward to a time when even the local Visitor Center is selling locally produced and designed products – hopefully some of the same pieces available in her shop.
The policy in Yak’s Café has also been to treat the visitors with respect, no matter why they are coming to town, or what their political opinions may be. Jaramillo has found that many visitors want the same things that locals have fought for: protected land with access.
Jaramillo believes that more can be accomplished in polite conversation than a battle of opinions and stated, “I hope by doing this, maybe we can reach common ground.”
Her line of products includes t-shirts and pottery bears that are hand etched with an elk, bear, eagle, deer, or hummingbird – depending on the buyer preference. She has also added water bottles, shot glasses, drink koozies, and postcards – all originally created. And she is working very hard to locally source production of every item she can as well.
Jaramillo is ready to “show the world what a little hard work and integrity will accomplish.”
Yak’s Café products began selling on January 1 and more variety has already been added. Positive reviews on Amazon have begun popping up and Tamy Jaramillo is proud to be expanding her business, supporting local artists, helping local businesses, and creating a local narrative that will reach thousands.