Anna Baumhoff, owner of Homemade by Dorothys, was surprised when a state park manager came to her booth at the Buy Idaho show last month and asked for a price list. Then another state park representative showed up, and another. By the end of the day, six or seven had stopped by. Four more have called her since then.
What Baumhoff and other state businesses are learning is that the Department of Parks and Recreation has a budding initiative to buy locally for the 18 state-managed parks that have retail areas. The parks already sell Idaho products; this is a more organized effort to put the Idaho huckleberry on shelves where Montanas has been for years.
About four months ago, the department approached the group Buy Idaho with the idea to replace whatever imported trinkets, candies and other sundries it could with Idaho-made goods. They hope to get products into gift shops by Memorial Day weekend.
We have an opportunity here to showcase quality Idaho products, and we thought (retail shops in parks) would be the perfect venue to do that, said Jennifer Blazek, communication manager for the department. After all, Blazek said, state parks are an Idaho product, too.
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