Ninety percent of the products featured at PA Wilds Conservation Shops are made in the PA Wilds. The PA Wilds Center, the nonprofit that manages the shops and the PA Wilds Marketplace, spends thousands of dollars each year buying inventory and value-added products directly from local businesses and craftspeople for the Conservation Shops, creating important work opportunities that support families and communities.
The Conservation Shops also carry various soft goods, including PA Wilds-branded and state park-branded t-shirts, totes, hats and other apparel. These are sourced using industry and conservation resources such as One Green Planet’s “A Guide to Buying Sustainable, Fair-Trade and Cruelty-Free Clothing.” Once Conservation Shop staff finds a responsible company with competitive prices to source the soft goods, they work with local companies in the PA Wilds to place the order for ‘blanks.’ Then the local companies are hired to give the products their value-added component, be that creating a design for a new line of t-shirts, stitching embroidered patches on fleece jackets, screen printing, or some other service.
It’s not a perfect system, but it is one that the PA Wilds Center has put a lot of thought into, that lives up to our Brand Principles, that is making a difference to small-scale producers and business owners in rural PA – and that we feel you, the consumer, can feel good about.
According to the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), independent locally-owned businesses – like those involved in The Wilds Cooperative of PA and our gift shops – recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to absentee-owned businesses or locally-owned franchises. AMIBA reviewed 10 studies in this area, concluding that “on average 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.”
In other words, when you spend locally at our gift shops, it allows us to spend locally on inventory, and then those businesses spend a large part of that investment locally. It’s one great big reinforcing circle of goodness, and we appreciate you being part of it!