When I became involved with PCHS (Society) as Treasurer in 1996/97, the only museum sales made were e.g., a few post cards and Heritage Village cotton throws with motifs of our more popular structures. The receptionists would take care of the sales. About the same time period, two Madeira Beach Cottages were donated to HV and the Society paid HV for the $10,000 moving expense. One of the Cottages was placed where it is today. After some fashion, Ken Ford, Museum Director, had maintenance staff repair the Cottage windows, doors, flooring, etc. It had two rooms that were separated with outside doors and a wall with a walk thru doorway inside. Theater Chairs that were donated to the Village were placed in the larger of the two rooms and a Heritage Village narrative graphic file was on a monitor loop so that the public could take a walk through the park and houses via the film. This use of the Cottage went on for about 2 years.
During PCHS Board Meetings, Don Ivy curator, at that time spoke often to the Board about a Gift Shop, he suggested that Museums that have Gift Shop do quite well.
Ken Ford retired from the County and Ellen Babb became Acting Director of Heritage Village. In the Summer/Spring of 2001, the Board asked if it was possible to assemble/fashion a gift shop in the small room of the Cottage in time for the County Jubilee event. And the proposal was okayed.
Work commenced: a counter was constructed and an old fashion cash register that was in storage was workable and used. A little later a phone line was put in and again, an old fashion phone came out of storage and was hooked up. A color chart of pink sample paint was taken to a Volunteer Meeting and volunteers choose ‘Romantic Pink’ to paint the smaller room and it was painted. A few pieces of furniture were brought from the storage area in the House of Seven Gables. Such as a: vintage hand crank Victrola, dresser, watchmaker’s desk, book cases, etc. The Cottage was in fact used to store some pieces which turned out useful. Several more pieces of furniture came out of storage or were acquired from Salvation Army. And, volunteers constructed and installed display cases and shelving for the products.
From the onset, the Gift Shop was to be staffed and operated by PCHS members. The principal management to get the shop up and running was led by RoseMarie Kafer and Fran Johnson; together they succeeded in opening the shop in the time span the Board allotted.
The Shop managers proceeded to recruit and train volunteers to serve the public and “run” the business. The success of the Gift Shop rests largely on this dedicated, dependable, and personable group of volunteers.
Besides the throws and post cards, a procurement of products needed for sale commenced. A local Artist, Nancy Mullikin brought some of her pen & ink drawings of the more popular homes; that is; the Mullen-Coachman Log House, Daniel McMullen House, House of Seven Gables and later the Madeira Beach Cottage. The Board of Directors of the Society agreed to purchase a few and resell them. Replicas of the houses were made into Brass Ornaments by a vendor from the northwest. HV had a wealth of Orange Create Labels in storage as well as hanging in the museum. A local printer was contacted and was contracted to print 36 different Orange Crate Labels. The labels were reformatted to make oversized post cards. Also, many of the volunteers made different items for the shop. Civil war dolls (Church Dolls) were constructed out of men’s handkerchiefs, Tea Pot cards with a tea bag were made out of construction paper, Jay Dobkin went to garage sales every Saturday morning and brought back a wealth of goods; china to be cleaned up and sold, framed pictures, vintage books, and so many collectibles. We had the start of a Gift Shop.
The Gift Shop at Heritage Village had it’s ‘soft’ opening during the Country Jubilee of 2001 and has been a constant and reliable source of income for PCHS, in support of Heritage Village. The Grand Opening of the Gift Shop was held in December and we were ready for the Holidays.
Following the construction of the HV Annex the “theater” room became available for use by the Gift Shop. Thanks to a Blockbuster remodeling they donated a number of display cases/racks for our use. And, again volunteers equipped and decorated this room. Volunteers continued to make handcrafts, Jay was faithful, continuing to go to garage sales on Saturday mornings and also, Jay was a book collector and would bring in antique (as early as the 1800’s forward) books from his collection. About this time, Jane Doyle came on the scene with her elegant handcrafted stained glass. At first Jane was commissioned to make two stained glass signs; GIFT/SHOP, for the front windows. Following the signs, Jane* started to bring in glass for each of our windows. One particular piece, because of the motif and color was sold quickly which meant Jane would have to make another and another.
* Note: Jane became a sales operator and later the shop Manager, lasting to this date.
The Gift Shop Volunteers were and continue to be on the lookout for new items that would sell in the shop and bring either samples they purchased or the company name to be looked up on the computer. It helped to have several authors that were involved with Arcadia Publishing Company affiliated with PCHS. They wrote histories of the local area and book signings would take place outside of the Gift Shop. Another local artist drew all our structures in black and white that we made into post cards, now we had post cards of the Village. Dennis McBride soon drew an entire coloring book of the structures with a description under each picture. Also, a mascot was included in each picture for children to find. The coloring book was printed and sells in the Gift Shop.
The Gift Shop continues to flourish and new products as well as the old standbys make the shop profitable and popular with the public. Our business model to sell only reasonably inexpensive commercial products, having a historic period content, has been adhered to (one principle was ‘little or no plastic toys’). However, we do have more expensive, one of a kind, handcrafted products e.g., stained glass pieces of art and functional products, baskets from our Basket Guild, sewed bonnets, tea-towels, walking canes, plus hand crocheted and knitted items, scarfs, dish cloths and more. A credit card machine, modern telephone, and modern cash register are the only significant changes made to the shop since first opening. Some sales volunteers have continued for years to operate the shop; many other volunteers could be cited for their contributions, their giving of time and energy.
RoseMarie Kafer, Past President
June 7, 2019