Airstreams, Pop-up Culture and the Open Road
Certain things are as American as Apple Pie. Like … Apple Pie. The Statue of Liberty. Coca-Cola. Bald Eagles. Route 66. And Road Trips.
If there’s a quintessential travel tradition in America, it’s the road trip. What better way to explore our country from the mountains to the prairies, from sea to shining sea? The freedom of the open road calls to solo adventurers, vacationing families and everyone in between. From lonely beatniks On The Road to wholesome Brady Bunch types exploring the Grand Canyon, there’s something about gassing up a vehicle and hitting the highway that appeals to Americans of every stripe.
It’s pretty obvious that we’re a little obsessed with America over here at 50ROOTS. We’re proud to showcase quality products that are 100% American made, and we’re determined to get every last state of the union aboard. So far, we’re up to 44% on our 50 state mission map. To help us get to 100% we’re tackling a new project. This one is a labor of love as American as it gets. We’re renovating an Airstream.
The Instantly Recognizable Shiny Silver Bullet
How Airstream Became America’s Camper
No trailer is as easy to recognize as the Airstream. An example of American ingenuity at its finest, Wally Byam designed the first rough idea for his trailer as a tent on top of a model T chassis. That design didn’t pass the test of rain (or Molly, his first wife) so he replaced the tent with a permanent structure. Realizing he was onto something, Wally opened his first factory in Culver City, California in 1931. Ever since, Airstream has established itself as America’s most recognizable trailer. When the company outgrew its small space in California, Wally moved the factory east. Now based in Jackson Center, Ohio, these iconic American made treasures can be easily spotted on highways, back roads, campgrounds, trailer parks and private property all across the United States. The Shiny Silver Bullets are hard to miss.
Airstream Renovation Decision #1:
Her name is Betsy
We’re pretty dang excited to have our very own Shiny Silver Bullet, and we’re eager to get her spruced up and ready for adventure. We’re calling her Betsy, for Betsy Ross. Maybe we’ll use the full name. We haven’t decided yet.
Right now Betsy is all open wide and full of spacious possibility. Literally. Or more accurately, she’s full of about 8 feet of possibility. As you can see, our girl is completely gutted at the moment. But don’t worry, trust me, there’s no lack of inspiration when it comes to deciding how to renovate an Airstream. Pinterest is lousy with swoon worthy design after swoon worthy design of beautifully restored caravans and campers. Right now we’re designing the interior. We’ve going for a vintage General Store vibe. Maybe some gingham? We’ll take pictures as we go, so keep updated on our progress. We’ll share our little triumphs and kvetch about our setbacks.
Honestly, the sheer number of articles we’ve seen on “what I wish I knew BEFORE I decided to renovate an Airstream” had us questioning our sanity for a minute. But we took a deep breath and decided it was too late for that. Betsy (Ross) is ours and she’s on her way to glory. Have you recently renovated a trailer? Got any pro-tips? We’ll take ‘em. And if you’re looking for us over the next few months, check airforums.com. We’ll probably be spending a lot of time over there.
Hometown Pride: Starting Out Local in the Hudson Valley
Once she’s up and running, we’ll be showing off Betsy locally first. She’ll break in her chops here in New York at 50ROOTS Pop-Up shops near our home in the Hudson Valley. Having an Airstream gives us a whole slew of new options. Creative entrepreneurs are seeing trailers as the perfect alternative to brick and mortar storefronts. Maybe the food truck boom served up the inspiration, but vendor trucks have moved far beyond tacos. Airstreams are being used by clothing designers, jewelry makers, florists and everyone in between. We know a good idea when we see one, so we’re setting up the 50ROOTS shop in Betsy Ross.
Wally may have designed Airstream with the open road in mind, but they’ve become a welcome, stationary fixture in American culture. They’re the solution for countless issues, from in-law residencies to home offices. They’ve even been used for astronauts. Fun fact: in 1969 when NASA was concerned that the Apollo 11 trio might bring back diseases from the moon, they quarantined Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins in an Airstream. If it’s good enough for those guys, it’s good enough for us.
Betsy Ross’ Mission:
Collect Stars From All Fifty States
Betsy Ross is sure to change the face of 50ROOTS. We can’t wait to breath life into our new mascot/headquarters/pop-up shop/main office/traveling boutique/homebase. We’ve got countless possibilities for our business now, and we can’t think of a better American made company than Airstream to help us expand across the United States. Eventually, Betsy will be ready to take out on the open road. We’re inspired by how many folks are committed to our cause of keeping things made locally in the U.S.A. We’ll be headed out there to meet them. We have a lot of crafty Americans out there. Look for us, them, and Betsy, sometime next year in a town near you.