Well folks, we are thrilled to announce that the gift shop at the museum is open and ready for business.
In the past we didn’t feel we had the room to carve out a space for a gift shop, but last fall I attended the Annual British Columbia Museums Association Conference in Kelowna and on the last night of the conference I was standing in the food line with a group of colleagues when someone asked how our gift shop was doing. I promptly replied that we didn’t have one and was told that we were missing out.
It turns out that museum gift shops do very well and I was about to get an education. Once our plates were full we headed back to our table and I started asking questions. What kinds of items do you carry? Where did you source your merchants? Did you buy the stock outright or is it all consigned? What was your gross last year? What? Are you serious?
My colleagues were amazing. They told me what they don’t carry and why, what you can expect local visitors to purchase as opposed to what visitors from out of town will buy, and what kind of payment system to use, etc. Kathy English, the executive director of the Revelstoke Museum, said stop in Revelstoke on my way back home, and talk with the gift shop coordinator. She would show me around and share her tips and tricks as well as the contact information of the vendors they use.
I did just that and was amazed at how they managed to have a thriving little retail shop in such a small space. I left there filled with ideas about what we might be able to accomplish with our little closet of space.
At our first board meeting following the conference, I brought the idea up to the Historical Society Board and they voted unanimously to go ahead with the gift shop, provided we could find some funding to do the construction work necessary to make it happen. We got the necessary quotes and applied to Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Program for the funding. To our delight and excitement, we received the grant.
The work began early in May when our contractor, Will Cunningham came in and tore down the wall at the front entrance of the museum where the small storage room had once been. Next came the electricians who wired us a few plugs, a heater and new lights. Early in June our, flooring contractor, Merc Flooring, came in and laid the flooring, knitting it in with the existing flooring.
We celebrated the end of construction by spending two full days putting in the shelving and putting together the cabinets to house everything. This huge build wouldn’t have been possible without the tenacity of Dennis Chamberlain who used his skills and experience to get it right the first time. Since that time, we have been working to get all of our stock onto the shelves and we are now satisfied that we are ready for the public to come check us out.
This project would not have been possible without the experience of the other museum professionals who were so willing to share. It would not have been possible without the financial contribution made by the Columbia Basin Trust through the Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Program.
Thank you to the various vendors who have been so encouraging and have brought their wares for us to sell. We appreciate all of you so much.
The hope of the Historical Society is that this gift shop can help us be more financially independent, so please come down and have a look and then tell you friends about the wonders that are here.