SEARCHING FOR ELVIS IN RENO, SALT LAKE AND JACKSON HOLE

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“Elvis is everywhere.”  That statement has been repeated numerous times here in Elvisblog, and it’s been fun to report the never-ending ways in which the sentiment has been validated.  Some corroborating examples come from news reports, and my web surfing has uncovered Elvis’ presence in plenty of places and on many products, some pretty obscure.  I have also enjoyed the challenge of searching for Elvis stuff in unlikely places like Egypt while on vacation.

 

So, it is a pleasure to report great Elvis-hunting success during our recent 2700-mile trip through six states to visit four National Parks.  My wife would never put up with Elvis searches in the Parks, so I didn’t even try.  However, the cities in between offered promise, some more than others.  Reno, Nevada was the first stop, and it seemed to have the best chances for success.

 

Sure enough, the shops In Reno were loaded with Elvis goodies to buy.  The strangest thing I found with Elvis’ name and image on it was a ceramic cookie jar in the shape of an old 50s record player.  The original machines were self-contained units with everything you needed to get music — a turntable, an amp, and a single mono speaker, all inside a 14” X 14” X 8” box.  You could close and latch the lid and use the built-in handle to carry it to a party.

 

I had one of these old portable record players, and I loved it.  But, making a cookie jar look like one was a mistake.  To get the cookies out, you have to open the lid and lift off the simulated turntable and album record.  Very cumbersome.  If you don’t want to lift the lid each time, it can be propped up.  Of course, then it takes up a lot of space and is just asking to be banged into.

 

I wish Elvis’ name and image had not been put on this disaster.  I forgot to see if it had an official EPE hologram tag attached, but if it did, it is one of the worst products Graceland has licensed.  If it was a bootleg, EPE needn’t bother with suing the manufacturer.  At the prohibitive price of $89, the stupid thing can’t have enough sales to produce any profit.

 

One other note on Reno.  A motorcycle rally was going on when we arrived.  Several streets were blocked off, and dozens of vendors sold their wares in tents, kiosks, and even mobile stores in tractor/trailers.  There was lots of Harley-Davidson stuff, but I was unable to find any merchandise featuring the famous 1956 picture of Elvis on his Harley.  I think photographer Al Wertheimer has missed a good marketing opportunity here.

 

Next up was Salt Lake City.  Our stop here was brief, but we did eat lunch at the Hard Rock Café.  It had dozens of Elvis memorabilia items, but much of it was placed too high on the wall to really see.  They did have a set of stained-glass windows – Elvis in the center, flanked by Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.  All three were very cool.

 

The toughest challenge to find anything Elvis was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  This gorgeous rustic town of less than 10,000 permanent residents is a Mecca for tourists.  It is just one hour south of Yellowstone National Park and right at the doorstep of Grand Teton National Park.  The median price of a house in Jackson Hole is $1.2 million, and the ones on the high side of this all have absolutely stunning views of the Teton Mountain Range.  Rich folks from all over the country come to their ‘second’ homes in Jackson Hole during the summer.  The temperatures are mild, and there is no humidity.  A lot of these folks come back in January for a few months of skiing.

 

So the challenge to finding anything Elvis in Jackson was twofold.  The town still has much of its rugged cowboy charm, and that doesn’t tie-in well with Elvis.  The other problem was that every store is so high end — expensive clothing, art, jewelry, etc.  I had nearly given up my quest for Elvis, when I saw the sign for a shop called HERO’S – Books, Toys, Collectibles.  I knew I had found the end of the rainbow and that wonderful things awaited me inside.

 

Good call.  HERO’S had five Elvis items for sale.  There were two McFarlane figurines, 50s Elvis, and ’68 Comeback Elvis.  I think McFarlane could sell a lot more of these things if the faces looked more like Elvis.  I guess it’s hard to get the nuances of all his features on ¾ inch of molded plastic.  HERO’S also had the All About Elvis Trivia Game, The Elvis Puzzle, and Elvis Yahtzee.  My favorite was the trivia game, but I can’t decide whether to save it as a collectible, or to open it up and play.

 

On the flight back from Denver, I came across Elvis in the strangest place.  Delta’s in-flight magazine, Sky, had a full-page color ad for the Robot Elvis Talking Head we discussed here back in January.  The product was a featured item at the Elvis Expo at Elvis Week, so they are serious about selling these things.  The price is now $300, down $50 from the original announced price. 

 

After all the money my wife spent during this vacation (most of it in Jackson Hole, of course), I think I could tell her I was buying a talking Elvis head — and get away with it.  The trouble is that this head doesn’t look like Elvis, either.  It is full sized, but they still can’t get his face right.  Anyway, it was nice to finish the trip with one last surprise to again validate “Elvis is everywhere.”

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

 

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