There are more than 6,700 state parks and millions of acres of state forest throughout the nation. Pennsylvania alone has 121 state parks and over 2.2 million acres of forest. All of which means, state public lands offer a lot of opportunity to get out and explore the outdoors!
According to The National Association of State Park Foundations, state parks around the nation collectively experience over 800 million visitors per year. In 2020, Pennsylvania state parks experienced a rise in visitation of about 26%, welcoming around 47 million people. People looked to the outdoors as a means to stay healthy, to move away from ‘screen time’, and to connect with family and friends.
Though Pennsylvania was already among one of the nation’s top states for consumer spending on outdoor recreation, generating $29.1 billion annually according to Outdoor Recreation Industry, this rediscovery of nature lead to more consumer interest in recreational equipment and apparel, as well as for guidance on how and where to get started.
Enter Dick’s Sporting Goods to help supply the demand with a new approach through its concept store, Public Lands, now with two locations in Cranberry, PA and Columbus, OH.
The Cranberry store opened in September with much to offer including a 30ft in-store climbing wall. The store features eight specialty shops with knowledgeable employees dedicated to assisting shoppers with each niche area; running, hiking, climbing, skiing, fishing, cycling, paddling, and camping.
“Beginners, fear not!” said Store Manager, Amber Rollo. There is something for everyone and for every skill level. The store offers rental equipment and repair services for bikes, fishing equipment, and snow gear. Staff is available to assist with boot and backpack fittings. The store also offers a wide variety of apparel including some brands that might not be expected such as Vans and Free People.
Recognizing that their business is reliant upon healthy natural resources and land available to the public, Public Lands has built giving back into their mission. One way in which they will fulfill this commitment is through membership in 1% for the Planet, a global network of businesses committed to donating 1% of all sales each year to environmental organizations.
In addition to supporting broader conservation initiatives like protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Public Lands has connected with the local efforts of groups such as Venture Outdoors, Allegheny Land Trust, Allegheny Cleanways, as well as the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation.
Public Lands aims to be a destination rather than just a retailer, featuring a concierge, a community hub, and access to experts.
“Public Lands has a better together ethos” stated Rollo when speaking of the store’s commitment to connecting with the local community. “Our team is dedicated to showing up in a real way.” She shared that many of the Public Lands staff members have engaged in local volunteer service projects and that all are passionate about connecting people with the outdoors.
In the spirit of community, Public Lands connected with local craft brewery, Stick City Brewing Company, to collaborate on a way to give back. Stick City, a family owned and operated business, established purposely to help fund efforts to protect the natural world. They too are members of 1% for the Planet (and a supporter of PPFF through our 1% for the Planet membership) and are active in volunteering for local conservation efforts. Together, they created a beer that benefits PA’s parks and forests. On November 18th, Public Lands and Stick City launched the Let’s Enjoy Together IPA during a Hops N Shop event at the store with proceeds supporting the stewardship of Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests through PPFF.
The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation welcomes this new relationship as well as the opportunities Public Lands provides for outdoor enthusiasts to find the gear and knowledge they need to enjoy safe, healthy, outdoor recreation.
To learn more about this collaboration and the Let’s Enjoy Together IPA, join us November 30th at 3pm on PPFF’s Facebook page or YouTube channel as staff from both Public Lands and Stick City Brewing partner for a livestream presentation with tips on camp cooking and more!
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