2 companies to produce, sell Michigan park merchandise

It was a true high-level meeting of the minds atop the Mackinac Bridge this past July, as representatives from the DNR and two private Michigan businesses – Peninsulas LLC and Yooper Shirts, Inc. – sealed the deal on a new partnership program offering official Michigan state park, trail and boating merchandise and apparel for sale. From left, Robert and Sherri Jameson, co-owners of Peninsulas LLC, DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson and Yooper Shirts owner Jeremy Symons. (Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — Beginning this month, two Michigan businesses will work with the Department of Natural Resources by making state park, trail and boating merchandise and apparel available for those who want to show appreciation for the Great Lakes State.

According to a release issued by the DNR Thursday, Peninsulas LCC and Yooper Shirts, Inc. were awarded contracts to implement a retail program after a yearlong evaluation process. Peninsulas was awarded a contract for destinations in the Lower Peninsula and Yooper Shirts was awarded one for Upper Peninsula destinations, the release said.

“The DNR provides safe, clean, quality recreational destinations and experiences for our millions of visitors,” Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said in the release. “This partnership allows us to offer memorabilia and apparel for visitors who want to show off their love of Michigan’s great recreational places and outdoor spaces.”

According to the DNR, both companies are responsible for designing, imprinting and selling merchandise and apparel and will then share proceeds with the DNR.

Generated funds will be used for park, trail and boating improvements and maintenance. Each year the DNR, Peninsulas and Yooper Shirts will publish a list of projects supported by the proceeds generated through the retail partnership, the release states.

According to Yooper Shirts owner Jeremy Symons, the awarded contract is an opportunity to expand business and help Michigan at the same time.

“Working with the DNR allows us to expand our product line, developing unique designs that showcase the beauty of the parks in the U.P., all the while giving back to the Michigan state parks that we love,” Symons said in a release. “This opportunity enables our business to invest in additional equipment so that we can be more efficient, as well as hire additional employees to help with our continued growth.”

Peninsulas co-owner Robert Jameson said one of the company’s purpose is to help celebrate Michigan.

“The Peninsulas brand is all about celebrating the beauty and heritage of the Great Lakes State. As we get a great deal of our inspiration from our trips to Michigan’s state parks, this DNR partnership is a natural fit,” Jameson said in a release. “It is our hope that through creating unique designs on high-quality products, Michiganders will be able to show their love of their home state and support our precious natural resources at the same time.”

Maia Turek, a resource development specialist for the DNR, told The Mining Journal that both companies will be contracted until 2022 with an optional two-year extension afterwards.

Turek said over forty companies showed interest in participating with the retail program after the DNR issued a press release in June 2016. A month later the DNR started meeting with companies all over the state, Turek said.

“It was great to see that there was interests on both sides of the bridge,” she said in a phone interview.

According to Turek, the idea of having two businesses contracted was appealing since there are over one hundred state parks in Michigan.

“One of the many things Yooper Shirts brought to the table was that they’re from the Upper Peninsula,” she said.

Both companies currently have some apparel and merchandise at their stores and online. According to Turek, the companies will continue to produce much more throughout the years.

“Both companies will be working on many designs — we have a long list,” she said. “I know other states are excited to see the turn out as well. It’s a unique model — other states might even replicate it depending on how well it goes.”

Merchandise and apparel is and will be available through both partners’ stores, on-site at select state park stores and retail outlets and online at shoppeninsulas.com and yoopershirts.com/collections/all/dnr.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.