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The Gift Shop
Susan Durfee

Have you ever wondered how the Gift Shop operates 
with a volunteer staff? How we shop for merchandise, arrange our displays, and market to you, our loyal customer? Our mission to is to appeal to residents, visitors and staff with an attractive display of merchandise that has variety, style and usefulness.

Judging by our success, we continue to fulfill that mission. Our well-priced greeting cards are our biggest seller. Stamps are a close second. The shop’s presence in the Club Center appeals to visitors, and it provides a social stop for residents. Typically, more than 50 volunteers work twice a month, and they look forward to their day in the shop.

We buy merchandise in a variety of ways. The Greensboro Gift Show, which we attend 3-4 times a year, is one source, and we also have several vendors that are online. Finding new vendors is a challenge, and we get help froman outside person who will shop for us at the Atlanta Gift Show for a small commission.

In order to create a special “look” for the shop, and have fresh merchandise between shows, we sometimes pick up a unique item at a consignment shop and price it accordingly. These one-of-a kind items must be in pristine condition and we often display them in the window to carry out a holiday theme or color palette.

I find that part of the process a joy, one that taps into my art background. My college major 60 years ago in Home Economics with emphasis on Clothing and Textile Merchandising did not lead to a retailing career! I remainhappy to turn over the job to another resident volunteer. Meanwhile, I enjoy good help from talented neighbors in our community who have an eye for decorating.

My experience with the gift shop has given me an appreciation for the challenges facing small businesses, and for the advantages our shop enjoys at Carolina Meadows: we pay no overhead, we have an all-volunteer staff, and our profits can go to our Residents Association. It is a “win win” situation for us all!

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