Photo courtesy Parks Project

A New Los Angeles Retail Shop Connects Shoppers to National Parks Conservation and Stewardship Projects

Los Angeles Sustainability
by Tim Wenger May 14, 2024

A community-focused retail store dedicated to conservation efforts in national, state, and regional parks opened its doors in Los Angeles in May. Parks Project, a clothing brand and certified B-Corp, will use its first flagship store – dubbed the “Discovery Center” – to boost awareness of its hard goods and its mission to “leave it better than you found it.” The store, located at 8540 W. Washington Blvd. in Culver City, is designed to be an immersive experience rather than simply a place to shop.

“It’s part outdoor park, part visitors center, part retail shop,” Parks Project Marketing Director Taryn Olsen told Matador. “It’s a place for us to showcase our best and vintage products, partnership products with some of the licensing deals we’ve done to give back, and it also has a place for the community to come together.”

A large events space is located adjacent to the retail shop, which hosts events like yoga, film screenings, and parties, all which tie into Parks Project’s conservation-first mantra. The company aspires for this space to become a hub for conservation groups to host project launches, and for the Culver City community to have a low-key spot to gather.

How the ‘Discovery Center’ represents the next phase of Parks Project’s conservation efforts

Photo: Tim Wenger
Photo: Tim Wenger

“We’re excited to create a destination space for deeper engagement by mixing a park visitor center with a fashion outdoor boutique that also offers a dedicated area for community ‘discovery’ events,” said Parks Project founder Keith Eshelman in a press release. “Our goal is to continue bringing parks to people in creative ways with a theme of conservation and to connect with like-minded people who want to build community around a joint purpose to leave it better.”

Walking into the store is akin to arriving at a trailhead. You’ll see Parks Project clothing displayed on the left wall, including popular designs of t-shirts, jackets, and other wearables. The back wall is covered in a mural depicting a forest hiking trail, with the space immediately in front of it designed as a “trailhead” complete with live greenery and a parked trailer. Inside the trailer is a small lounge area with a desk, and the space doubles as the cashier area for customers making a purchase.

parks project discovery center

Photo courtesy Parks Project

The retail space also includes a lounge area and bookshelves offering trail guides and other trip-planning materials. True to the brand’s outdoorsy routes, topographic maps feature heavily in the store’s aesthetic, including those of popular national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. Guests visiting the Discovery Center have the opportunity to discover information about parks in the Los Angeles area and around the country, as well as learn about and sign up for stewardship opportunities, conservation projects, and ways to get involved in supporting those parks.

Those familiar with Parks Project may have seen – or better yet, used – the Leave It Better Essential Clean-Up Kit. These reusable kits include gloves, bags for picking up waste and recyclables, and a bandana to protect yourself from the sun while cleaning up trails. This product epitomizes Park Project’s ethos – rather than simply hawking clothes and making a project, the B-Corp seeks to help its customers take care of the public lands they so cherish.

How Parks Project leads stewardship projects for public lands

parks project discovery center

Photo: Tim Wenger

Parks Project was born out of Eshelman’s love for public lands and his desire to use his retail clothing and business acumen – he spent years working at Tom’s Shoes before launching his own company – to make the world a better place. As a Certified B-Corp, the company effectively operates on a “profit with a cause” model that requires it to follow strict protocols surrounding business practices and philanthropic efforts to maintain certification. Eshelman chose to incorporate a give-back program as a driving force behind the company’s business model.

“The way that it works right now is that we work on a grant-like model, basically,” Olsen says. “We look at the year and we say, ‘Ok, we’re going to have about this much to give back, if all goes as planned.’ We’ll determine we want to give X amount to, say, a project in Glacier National Park. So we go to that organization and tell them we’d like to partner on a project, and here’s how much we have.”

The company distributes this money to pre-determined projects in parks around the country. The company also hosts volunteer events and encourages those interested to follow its volunteer page for upcoming opportunities. To date, Parks Project has donated more than $2.6 million to conservation and restoration efforts throughout the United States.

“When you buy something here, that helps us do what we really exist to do,” Olsen says. “And that is to give back to these conservancies so they can do the work that they so desperately need to do.”

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