Sharing the story of your nonprofit is critical work.

An on-site resource that blends revenue generation and outreach is the park interpretive store. These stores can be critical sources of funding for friends-of-the-park groups, zoos, museums, education travel organizations, nature centers, aquaria, botanical gardens, conservation organizations, cultural museums, and historical sites. The products sold must be meaningful and relevant so they support the mission, support fundraising goals, and allow for emotional and intellectual connections to be made. This is done by strengthening park store products through interpretation.

Here are six principles of interpretation developed by Freeman Tilden and re-stated by Larry Beck and Ted Cable in their book, “The Gift of Interpretation.” I’ve mapped their principles to questions for you to ask when considering if a product is appropriate for your audience/store.

To learn more about Interpretation visit the National Association for Interpretation online,

Article originally published June 2014; updated November 2020.

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