While there has been no lack of news coverage on the sad state of our national parks, there is still not enough money to shore up the buildings and patch the roads. To help fill the gap, two energetic entrepreneurs turned their disappointment over a canceled trip to Yosemite during the 1995 government closure into a new business that offers financial support to the parks.
Joe Galliani and Mike Baggetta saw the parks as an underpromoted and undermarketed commodity. No one, after all, can doubt that Americans love their national parks. So they figured a lot of people might like to buy caps, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other items that feature the various national park logos. And, perhaps these same folks would cotton to the idea that 5 percent of the money that they spent would be donated to the parks. That was the deal the two businessmen wanted to offer.
With that kernel of an idea, they put together the merchandise and designed a catalog. In July 1997, the first round of catalogs went to just 25 people. The mailing list now stands at 60,000 and the partners expect it to double before the holiday season is over.
The Parks Company National Parks Catalog is available by phone or on the Internet. So far the most popular items are the series of park posters created in the 1930s by artists for the Federal Arts Project.
The catalog company has donated more than $28,000 for national park programs and improvements. Although this is a small contribution in light of the $9 billion the park service says it needs for maintenance and repair, at least it’s a start at narrowing the gap. (For more information: 888-727-5726 or http://www.theparksco.com).