The best part of working for a historic house is the personality. Not just the house itself, but the relationships people form with the house because of how much history has happened in and around its walls. I started my relationship last October when I helped plan and facilitate the Haunted History of Historic Sandusky and continued my relationship when I approached the Foundation this summer to do an internship. When I started the entry-hall was not complete, and the Gift Shop (which was the focus of my internship) was a mess.
I met with Greg Starbuck, Historic Sandusky’s Director, on a sunny afternoon in August to understand what exactly he needed to find that my project would be a mostly self-guided experience where I could learn what I sought out. He explained to me that the gift shop had been a project that he wanted to handle for years and that I could do what I thought might make it more profitable.
Over the next four months I researched museum gift shops, interviewed similar operations in the area and collected data on the current product offerings through watching customers interact with the pre-merchandising space and examining the sale records of past years.
Following my analysis I found several products, many of which had been donated or were sunk costs, to be dead weight and many suggestions to purchase more children’s toys and other products. With my suggestions in mind and the Christmas Open House approaching, I reorganized the slat wall and placed products keeping in mind my six years of retail experience.
Now it’s finals week. Crunch time for me and the time where everything has come together for Historic Sandusky. The gift shop is open for business and should be making Historic Sandusky at least 15% more per year (with the implementation of product purchase and the merchandising). The time has flown by, the foyer has been restored to its original glory, and the gift shop has gone through retail puberty. My job is done, but I am pleased to have been touched by Historic Sandusky’s family and help frame its personality through the gift shop.
About the Author:
Charlotte Galamb is a senior marketing major with a public relations minor at Lynchburg College. She has been working with Historic Sandusky as their gift shop merchandising intern during her fall 2016 semester.