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As good liberals and America's actual patriots, I'm sure that anyone reading this has by now seen, or at least heard of, Ken (...head rolls back, begins snoring) BURNS! KEN BURNS' documentary "National Parks." Don't get me wrong. I am a huge fan of Ken Burns, even though some of his stuff is a little, shall we say dry? Anyway, if you haven't seen it, check it out- it's very good:

But I got this idea last time I was in a National Park... follow me below the orange scribble of "hey why don't we do this all ready" for more.

And here it is.

I was recently at Joshua Tree National Park here in Southern California (pretty cool, you should go) and in their gift shop was your typical array of cheesy trinkets and souvenirs. Well, being a good consumer, I began inspecting the tags on all the T shirts and key chains, etc. I could get my hands on.


Can we not do that? These are our National Parks. If we can demand that everything the Pentagon buys be made in the USA, can we not demand that everything sold at one of our country's National Parks also be made here? They are, after all NATIONAL Parks. Can we keep it that way? I'm pretty sure that Americans can make collectible spoons, shot glasses, baseball caps, postcards, pocket knives, tarantulas under glass and hooded sweatshirts just as well (if not better) than the Chinese can.

Look, everything in a National Park gift shop is so overpriced as it is, if we made all that stuff here, we could just keep the prices the same, but subsidize American employers and maybe create some jobs along the way. What say you, citizens?

Originally posted to Blogo de Harhead on Mon May 20, 2013 at 10:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.


Schlock in our National Parks gift shops?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    "What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." -Mark Twain

    by jared the bassplayer on Mon May 20, 2013 at 10:41:53 AM PDT

  •  Somewhat Related. I Was At Smokey Mountains (3+ / 0-)

    National Park last year (one of my favorite). Went to an Indian reservation. I wanted to go so I could go to the museum. Tool around. My friends wanted to go to the casino.

    First off I am not sure I actually found an Indian while there. And yes, the vast majority of the stuff in the shops was made in China.

    How is that even possible?

    •  Seriously. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina, webranding

      Its kind of embarrassing, isn't it? Can we stop this?!

      "What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." -Mark Twain

      by jared the bassplayer on Mon May 20, 2013 at 10:58:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Am Nothing Close To Perfect (2+ / 0-)

        I own a ton of shit made in China and gosh knows where else. But come on, our National Parks. I draw the line there. I mean if we can't have stuff made in American in our National Parks I just don't know what to say.

        And as you noted it isn't like the stuff isn't overpriced to start with. I mean it can cost $40-$60 just for a guide book and some topographic maps of a park.

        •  Can I get an Amen (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It seems like it would be a pretty easy issue to fix...

          ...but then so did sensible gun regulations.

          "What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." -Mark Twain

          by jared the bassplayer on Mon May 20, 2013 at 11:25:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  When I Go To A National Park I Usually (2+ / 0-)

            stay for at least a week. Often two. I am that hiker/camper guy. The Internet is great cause before I head out I can locate a place to take a shower for a few bucks every 3-4 days. They are usually in places where there are camp grounds for people with RVs. Locally owned and right out of the park grounds.

            I find that is the perfect place to ask where you can get local art work. Good food in a non-chain place.

            I can't speak for the National Parks out West, not spent a lot of time in them. But in the East, well the big parks, step off the grounds and it is strip mall after strip mall. Fast food and chain stores for as far as the eyes can see.

            I've always found this sad beyond words. I mean why would I want to go to McDonalds or a go-kart track when I am 5-10 miles from a National Park?

  •  It will take research (2+ / 0-)

    I'm sure the Interior Department is as full of career bureaucrats as any other Executive department is, and I'm not afraid to posit that the appointee who's in charge of "procurement"  is still a holdover from the Bush administration who wants to line his and his friends' pockets. If that's true, there's a chance we can make some changes here.

    If not, well . . .

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Columbine, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston (h/t Charles Pierce)

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon May 20, 2013 at 10:53:52 AM PDT

  •  Better yet... (7+ / 0-)

    Could we turn to the many local artists, crafts-people, and small-business owners to supply at least part of the goods for sale at these national parks? This would be good for business as well as providing interesting insights into local traditions.

    Unique and interesting items like this little bluebird made in the mountain of western North Carolina are among my most prized possessions

    Bluebird of Happiness.JPG

    Memorable purchases at our national parks could provide enjoyment for years to come and could inspire future visits.

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

    by cassandracarolina on Mon May 20, 2013 at 10:54:09 AM PDT

    •  Amen To That. I Was Out Of Town This Weekend (6+ / 0-)

      with my brother. He got a call from his wife that she had spent almost $1,000 at our local art fair (one of the largest in the world BTW). He was like WTF. I explained I had spent a ton of money there in the past as well. I even bought some stuff I liked, but didn't really LIKE. I said that if we don't support local art. Non-chain stores. Local music .... well we won't have any!

      •  Local art is a great conversation starter (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        webranding, jared the bassplayer

        because it usually has a story attached to it. Items that have a sense of place or remind us of our travels continue to pay "dividends" to us over time, in addition to delighting visitors who see these items in our homes or offices.

        A few years ago, I attended a trade show and was responsible for our company's booth. In the past we had raffled off things like a digital camera or iPod or other popular item. At this event, held in Duluth, I purchased a small painting by a local artist and used that as the raffle item.

        There are plenty of ways that people and corporations can support the arts in the course of their normal purchasing activities. They'll get something unique, with lasting value, instead of something mass-produced under atrocious working conditions in an environmentally-substandard factory a world away.

        Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

        by cassandracarolina on Mon May 20, 2013 at 11:21:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You (and others) might like this story (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cassandracarolina, webranding

        From the Colorado Public Radio show "Colorado Matters" on the selling of shares of art the same way farmer co-ops sell shares of farmer's produce.

        •  That Is Actually VERY Cool (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cassandracarolina, ColoTim

          Well you might enjoy this. We paid this local artist to paint these huge murals on the side of some building in our town. She kinds of paints flowers in the style of Georgia O'Keeffe.

          Now my town isn't so liberal. Pretty elderly. I don't have the heart to tell them those paintings they really love are vaginas!

          I mean it is kind of neat we have a 150 foot by 50 foot vagina on the side of our hardware store :).

  •  Sure, Once We're Able to Pass Progressive (4+ / 0-)

    legislation again, if that day ever comes.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon May 20, 2013 at 10:56:37 AM PDT

  •  Joshua Tree has a gift shop? (3+ / 0-)

    I like Joshua Tree, but I didn't know they had such a thing.

    Oh, and I agree with you. More home-made crafts less imported crap.

    But usually, the gift shops are owned by a franchise. In Yosemite, it is the Yosemite and Curry Company which is now on its second 100-year exclusive rights contract.

    •  Yeah they do. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Its in the "Visitor's Center" at the north entrance by Twentynine Palms.

      As for franchising out the gift shops? Executive Order! F*ck that mess right in the face! (oh wait... was that my outside voice again?)

      "What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." -Mark Twain

      by jared the bassplayer on Mon May 20, 2013 at 11:03:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think they are already franchised out. (0+ / 0-)

        That was my point.

        The Yosemite and Curry company has owned all the money-making enterprises in Yosemite for over 100 years. They got a 99-year exclusive contract which was up not too many years ago, but of course it got renewed.

        All the gift shop crap, the restaurants, the hotels, the buses, the campgrounds, even the mule rides are all owned by franchise, and I think that's the same thing with all national parks.

  •  Across The Street, To The Left In This Pic (3+ / 0-)

    Smoky Mountains #2 (2009)

    In the Smokey Mountains there is wonderful outdoor store. Camping equipment. Cloths. Fly fishing. But they have a huge section that is nothing but art work created by local people.

    It is just wonderful, and if my experience is any indication, people buy a lot of it.

    But alas this is a private store, not one owned by the Park Service.

  •  One Question Jared (3+ / 0-)

    Clearly I agree with you, but I wonder how much of the profits made at the gift stores help to keep camping permits down. Where I go they are between $12-$15 a night. I mean I am always stunned by how inexpensive that is.

    Heck last year I went camping with the two people I camp with each year for almost two decades. They brought this "tea party" guy with them (long story).

    All he did was bitch and bitch.

    Then one night I was going to pay for our site and he said he'd pick it up. When we told him it was $12/night he was speechless. Couldn't believe it was that "cheap."

    I think I said: "Your tax dollars at work dude! Kind of cool isn't it?"

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