Peninsulas Poised to Grow Under New DNR Deal


Berkley-based retailer to sell goods at state parks

Berkley-based Peninsulas LLC has launched a line of Belle Isle Park-branded merchandise under its new contract with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Outdoorsy apparel and home goods company Peninsulas LLC is likely to see its business shift toward online as it ramps up production under a contract with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Berkley-based business will sell merchandise branded for state parks, trails and waterways in the Lower Peninsula at its shops, at state parks and online in a deal announced last week, co-founder Robert Jameson said.
The DNR awarded its Upper Peninsula contract to Marquette-based Yooper Shirts Inc.

Peninsulas' partnership with the state is a five-year contract with options for two three-year renewals, Jameson said. Ten percent of sales from all items in the company's official state parks merchandise lines go to the DNR for improvement and maintenance of trails, parks and waterway areas.
Jameson founded the brand in 2014 with his wife and fellow lifelong Michigander, Sherri Jameson, who designs their products. They sell Michigan- and Detroit-themed retro shirts, accessories, decor items and kitchenware inspired by old travel brochures, stickers and other materials.

The state deal could add 15 percent-20 percent to the company's current annual revenue of $700,000-$900,000 in the coming years, Robert Jameson said.

Peninsulas launched its Belle Isle Park line Nov. 1, Jameson said. It also sells products branded for the state's Parks, Trails and Waterways program and individual activities such as camping, hiking and snowmobiling. The Jamesons will also start to roll out products for the state's top 10 parks in 2018, including Petoskey and Interlochen state parks. Peninsulas could eventually distribute products to up to 80 state park shops, Robert said. They will likely begin to show up at those stores in the spring when parks reopen.

The company already distributes to around 125 retailers in Michigan and 10-12 in the greater Chicago area, and ships across the country. But new products and publicity make the DNR contract a "real game changer" for Peninsulas — especially when it comes to Michiganders living outside the state, Robert said.

"The state parks are another one of those Michigan institutions that really tug at the heart strings of Michiganders who left the state," he said. "So (we are) looking at (online search engine optimization) to reach out to more Michiganders across the country.

"This could significantly increase the amount of web traffic and web sales we get. It could change our business in terms of how we fulfill product and manage our growth."

That ability to "deliver an online presence" is a central reason the DNR chose Peninsulas, said Maia Turek, the department's resource development specialist and statewide recreation programmer. The combination of web sales, brick-and-mortar stores and the company's pre-existing distribution network with other retailers made it the best choice.

"They were the one that actually had all of those opportunities for us to extend our brand beyond just souvenirs on-site," Turek said.

The only set-in-stone expansion plan Peninsulas has is opening its second retail storefront in May in Cross Village. But if web sales grow as much as the Jamesons hope, they will likely need to start scouting for new warehouse space.

"Right now we're able to do a lot at the Berkley location, but we're starting to see the seams bulge a little bit," Robert said.
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