If you are one of the more than 40 million annual visitors to Pennsylvania’s State Parks and State Forests, then you know the importance of the many small businesses in and around our public lands. These “mom and pop shops” provide the food, gasoline, lodging, recreational equipment rentals, souvenirs, and other necessities for an enjoyable day or week outdoors. In fact, according to The Economic Impact of Pennsylvania’s State Parks study done by Penn State in 2012, those visitors generated $1.145 billion in sales to the PA economy, which supported more than 12,000 jobs. Another study of state forest use in 2011 showed that most visitors spend money within 50 miles of the state forest they visit, with average expenditures ranging from $80 to $200 per trip.
That is why we hope you will join us in celebrating “National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day” this March 29. The small businesses near or in, as in the case of concessionaires, our state parks and forests are a part of the overall visitor experience.
“Local general stores, diners, gift shops, wineries, breweries, unique lodgings, and more compliment the experiences that visitors to our state parks and forests have each year,” said Marci Mowery, President of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF), the trusted nonprofit voice and advocate for Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests. “It’s a mutually-beneficial relationship that fuels the economy and keeps visitors coming back. That is why we are so excited to celebrate ‘Mom and Pop Shop Day’ this year!”
Indeed, it is a mutually-beneficial relationship, as every dollar invested in PA state parks generates $12.41 of value added income to the state’s economy (i.e., the local small businesses surrounding these public lands), according to the 2012 Penn State study mentioned previously.
The connections between our public lands and small businesses are integral to the overall economic health of Pennsylvania, just as our state parks and forests are key to our mental and physical health. Small businesses help to shape the character of a community, employ the largest number of people nationally, and are often owned by people who live in the community. According to the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), in 2019 there were more than 1.1 million small businesses in the state, employing 2.5 million workers and accounting for 46.6 percent of the private sector labor force.
PPFF encourages visitors to our state parks and forests to remember the local businesses near these lands not just on “National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day”, but every day. Print a copy of the special customizable thank you card below to drop off at your favorite mom and pop shop on National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day or any day – just add in the name of the state park or forest and go!