NPS Releases Concession Prospectus For Colonial National Historical Park

The concessions operation at the Burcher Cottage in Colonial National Historical Park in Virginia is up for bid. NPS photo by Emma Torres.

The National Park Service recently released a prospectus soliciting bids for the operation of a relatively small retail store in the Yorktown area of Colonial National Historical Park.

The historic park encompasses Historic Jamestown, Yorktown Battlefield, and the 23-mile parkway connecting the two. The historical park also includes the 17th-century plantation home of Virginia’s colonial governor.

Settled in 1607, Jamestown is the first permanent English settlement in North America, while Yorktown represents the location of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.

The prospectus involves retail sales of souvenirs and gift items in Burcher Cottage, an 1887 two-story, 1,600-square-foot, weatherboard building on Yorktown’s Main Street. The concessionaire is also authorized, but not required, to offer convenience items for sale. As is the case for other NPS concession operations, all items offered for sale must be approved by the park’s superintendent.

Retail sales at the cottage have taken a major hit in recent years, declining from $165,000 in 2006 to $82,000 in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available. NPS indicated the decline resulted from new competition in addition to low inventory and lack of promotion on the part of the existing concessionaire.

On the plus side, the initial investment required of a new concessionaire is estimated to be only $38,300, primarily for inventory. In addition, NPS believes revenues can rebound to the earlier higher level with better promotion, increased inventory, and the addition of convenience items.

The previous ten-year concession contract commenced in 2002 and was followed by a one-year extension. The proposal indicates the concessionaire has waived the right of preference for the new contract. The new contract is to begin June 1, 2013, with a term of nine years and seven months. The contract will require a minimum franchise fee equal to 3.8 percent of annual gross revenues, but no reserve for repair and maintenance.

A site visit at the cottage for interested bidders is scheduled for March 22, and proposals are due by May 1 in the NPS Northeast Regional Office in Philadelphia.