New Park Stores Welcome Visitors in the Midwest
The 2021 season brought two new Eastern National store projects to fruition: a newly renovated America’s National Parks™ Store at Wilson’s Creek NB in Missouri and the grand opening of the America’s National Parks™ Store at Pullman NM in Chicago. Despite the challenges brought on by government shutdowns, a global pandemic, and other unforeseen circumstances, NPS and Eastern National staff banded together to successfully create park store experiences that complement each site’s unique themes.
Eastern National planning for renovations at Wilson’s Creek began in earnest in 2019 as a typical Agency Improvement project, but after a government shutdown and global pandemic upended plans, the team had to get imaginative. With logistical and financial support from Interior Regions 3, 4, and 5, and the park, plus creative repurposing of fixtures from other Eastern National outlets, the store was fully furnished by the grand opening on May 28.
In addition to the facility renovations, Eastern National’s team took the opportunity to review the Scope of Sales and identify ways to expand the interpretive themes in our product assortment. A collection of lifestyle home goods inspired by the Ray House, the only surviving dwelling from the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, interprets family life and how it was impacted by the battle. More diverse stories will be told through new products and books honoring Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General killed in action, enslaved people and African Americans in Missouri, and women’s roles during the Civil War. The store design incorporates elements of daily life in the 1860s and was inspired by the Ray House, featuring materials and textures from the period. Since opening, the store has outperformed 2019 sales for the same period (Memorial Day to early August) by nearly 40%.
In Chicago, planning for the America’s National Parks™ Store at Pullman NM began in 2017, before the park even had its own visitor center. The park included Eastern National representatives through every step, from interpretive planning to building design. The new park store, positioned at the end of the visitor’s journey through the historic Clock Tower building and exhibits, features an industrial-era store design that seamlessly extends the park experience.
As a new park store, the Eastern National team also needed to work closely with the park to plan the Scope of Sales and determine the right product assortment. Using the park’s Foundation Document and exhibit plans, the product development team was able to mirror themes and categories after the interpretive stories relayed through the visitor center exhibits, such as the experimental industrial town built in the 1880s centered around rail car production, the labor movement including the Strike and Boycott of 1894, the African American union, The Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, and larger themes of transportation, urban planning, and the fight for civil rights.
The America’s National Parks™ Store at Pullman NM opens to the public on Labor Day, September 6.