Sunriver’s Landmarks Unlimited Helps ‘Commemorate Your Most Treasured Travels’


((Left) Landmark Unlimited’s Items are now sold in 100 stores across Oregon and Washington (Right) Owner Wesley Ballew has more than 20 years of experience in the retail industry | Photos courtesy of Landmarks Unlimited)

“Why do souvenirs have to be so bad?” lamented Wesley Ballew after first visiting the Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon — considered one of the state’s seven natural wonders — and, when looking for a travel memento for sale in nearby stores, found that they “failed to capture the beauty and essence of what I had just seen.”

Owner of Landmarks Unlimited, located in The Village in Sunriver, Ballew was did more than deplore this disparity, but instead was inspired to help like-minded explorers “commemorate your most treasured travels and experiences.”

As he explained, “the idea of creating elevated gifts and collectibles had already been ticking in my brain, and crystallized after this trip. I can’t paint or sculpt, but — by learning digital art design, could turn the pictures that are in my head into what I term ‘collections.’”

that speaks to the true character of the destination.” Reproduced on matchbooks (a once-popular collectible that has recently seen a resurgence), pins, magnets, stickers that are used to adorn water bottles and vehicles, and stationery, “the designs are leveraged across product lines,” said Ballew. “The items in each collection have a similar shape, color palette, and tone.” In order to differentiate the product lines, Ballew focuses on “quality materials and an authenticity that speaks to the true character of the destination.”

Thus far, the collections include the Bridges of Portland, the Mountains of the Cascade Range, the Natural Wonders of the Northwest, Cities & Towns, and the Oregon Coast — “to encourage collectability and showcase the items together as an art piece.”

Ballew also collaborated on a finely crafted line of keychains and coasters emulating national forest signs that are produced here in Oregon. The other products stocked in Landmarks Unlimited — such as softly textured blankets, soy candles, and leather-bound journals — “all have a story,” he said.

Coming from the retail industry — Ballew has nearly 20 years of experience at such trendsetting companies as Fossil, Tom’s Shoes, Columbia Sportswear, and Williams Sonoma — where he focused on direct-to-consumer channels — including e-commerce, print catalogs, and brick-and-mortar retail stores.”

He eventually realized that “corporate retail was no longer fulfilling, Life is too short, and I wanted to make my own path, and do what makes me happy.”

And so the sought-after-executive became an entrepreneur — an contrast that struck Ballew while selling his wares at Portland-area street fairs, and relishing his new-found “sense of pride and ownership. I’m growing the brand at a measured pace to make sure I maintain a focus on details,” he said, “and doing what needs to be done at each step along the way.”

A telling example for this self-admitted introvert was breaking into the wholesale arena. “I’m not a natural salesperson,” Ballew admitted, so he approached potential customers with a certain amount of modesty, only to be happily surprised by their encouraging response. As he was repeatedly told, “we’ll absolutely take these.”

Landmark Unlimited’s Items are now sold in 100 stores across Oregon and Washington, and Ballew plans to expand into California and Alaska in the near future. “Our wholesale business has provided the opportunity to open a retail space in Sunriver,” he said, “while allowing us to test the water for new product lines.”

And even though Landmark Unlimited has only been open a few months, “the Sunriver community has been fantastic — so wonderful and supportive.” To the extent that Ballew and his husband Aaron, a screenwriter, plan to make the town their home base — both professionally and personally.

“We’ve been pleased with the store’s success, particularly in the off-season,” said Ballew, “and are positioning ourselves to be prepared for upcoming summer travelers.” Despite working 80-hour weeks (which includes fulfilling online orders, growing his wholesale business, and undertaking interior renovations) he is adamant that “putting my experience and energy into Landmarks Unlimited was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”


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