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Does it matter where the stuff you buy comes from?
We think so. Which is why we’ve put a lot of thought into how we source products at our PA Wilds Conservation Shops.
One of our main product lines is The Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania, a network of more than 100 local producers, artists and craftspeople from across the Pennsylvania Wilds region. These are people who live and work in rural PA, love what they do, and have proven through a jurying process that they are good at doing it. Look for The Wilds Cooperative of PA hangtags to take home one of their authentic hand-made products.
We also carry various soft goods at our physical and online stores. These include 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 we find a responsible company with competitive prices where we can source the soft goods, we work with local companies in the Pennsylvania Wilds to place the order for ‘blanks’ and then these 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 we’ve put thought into, that we feel 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.
The PA Wilds Center spends thousands of dollars a year buying inventory and value-added products directly from local businesses and craftspeople for its gift shops. This creates important work opportunities on our rural landscape that help support families and communities.
This investment ripples out. 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!