A new retail operation recently opened in Lock Haven, selling products that have been proudly made in the Pennsylvania Wilds region.
Through a collaborative effort between Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. and the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, a regional nonprofit whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that strengthens and inspires PA Wilds communities, Wilds on Main features products from various local artisans, many of whom participate in the Wilds Cooperative of PA (WCO). The WCO is a free network program managed by the PA Wilds Center that seeks to help connect and promote the unique products, services and experiences only found in the PA Wilds with both residents and visitors alike.
As part of the partnership, Wilds on Main is located inside the Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. office on Main Street. The section of the building has locally made products on display and available for purchase.
Some of the products include Sue’s Salves and Island Road Honey, companies that are based in Clinton County. Other products made in the 13-county PA Wilds region will be available as well, including items featuring the PA Wilds logo. Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. has agreed to utilize 80 percent of any sales made in order to reinvest in the WCO and PA Wilds makers.
The Wilds on Main store officially opened in Lock Haven on Saturday, December 10, 2022. Store hours are currently Wednesday 1 to 5 p.m., Friday 1 to 6 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We are so thankful and excited to offer the brand of the PA Wilds in Clinton County. Working with makers and vendors to give our community and visitors an opportunity to support the ecosystem that the PA Wilds has created adds to our value,” says Angela Harding, President of Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. and Clinton County Commissioner. “Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. had the perfect Main St. storefront within their office space and with some elbow grease and board support, we are proud to launch this endeavor. The team at PA Wilds – Abbi, Ta, LaKeshia and Kate – have been patient and super supportive in making this project successful.”
Through this pilot program, called “Made Local. Sold Local.”, the PA Wilds Center provides the community partner with start-up inventory at no cost, creating a risk-free line of income for more investing in locally made inventory; access to PA Wilds marketing platforms and the ability to leverage the PA Wilds brand to sell merchandise; and connections to a growing network of regional artisans participating in the WCO.
“We are excited to be able to partner with community members in Lock Haven to help stand-up a retail location that focuses on selling goods from WCO members and leverages the PA Wilds brand,” said Abbi Peters, chief operations officer at PA Wilds Center. “We have managed our own network of gift shops, known as PA Wilds Conservation Shops, since opening our flagship store at Kinzua Bridge State Park in August 2016 and have seen tremendous success in helping to move local artisan products, ultimately adding to the visitor experience in our region and helping small businesses thrive. We couldn’t be more excited to expand this opportunity for local communities and businesses by partnering with Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. and bringing that effort to downtowns in the 13-county region.”
As part of the pilot program initiative, Downtown Lock Haven joined the WCO as a Community Partner and agreed to manage the retail space as open at least three days per week. Accepting credit cards and checks only, Wilds on Main will be a merchant for shoppers who receive a Shop the PA Wilds Digital Gift Card. To help inform the pilot program’s future, Downtown Lock Haven will share sales numbers from start-up merchandise to demonstrate success after launching the new initiative at their storefront. Proceeds from sales revenues must also be reinvested in purchasing additional inventory made by members of the WCO, which is a free program for PA Wilds entrepreneurs.
This collaboration is a new model for the PA Wilds Center to explore how to encourage other businesses and partners throughout the region to purchase products from artists in the region.
“Our model with the PA Wilds Conservation Shop sees that we purchase products at wholesale prices from our members. This creates a direct infusion of cash into their businesses, instead of having them put their products into stores on consignment – which would mean they’d have to wait for payday. We want to see more regional businesses consider this model for inventorying their locations, as it is an opportunity to support our neighbors and help create even more family-sustaining jobs in rural PA,” Peters added. “We have seen that the shoppers are excited when we share the story of our makers – they want to buy more because they understand there is a local impact, and ultimately, that allows us to purchase even more products from our local makers in the WCO. We think this is something that could increase revenue for other retailers in our region as well.”
ABOUT THE PA WILDS
The Pennsylvania Wilds is a 13-county region that includes the counties of Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Warren, and northern Centre. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that inspires the communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds. The PA Wilds Center promotes the region as a premier outdoor recreation destination as a way to create jobs, diversify local economies, inspire stewardship and improve quality of life. The PA Wilds Center’s core programs seek to help businesses leverage the PA Wilds brand and connect with new market opportunities, including: the Wilds Cooperative of PA (WCO), a network of over 450 place-based businesses and organizations; the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, a retail outlet primarily featuring products sourced from the WCO; the PA Wilds Marketplace, an online maker marketplace that allows WCO members to sell directly to customers while leveraging the PA Wilds brand; and PA Wilds licensing. For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit www.PAWildsCenter.org. To learn more about the WCO, visit www.WildsCoPA.org. Explore the PA Wilds at www.PAWilds.com, and find products made in and inspired by the region at www.ShopThePAWilds.com.