Washington Heritage Museums Seeks Volunteers for Mary Washington House Gift Shop
Volunteers Needed, Particularly on Weekends
Fredericksburg — Washington Heritage Museums is seeking engaging individuals to volunteer in the gift shop at the Mary Washington House, especially on weekends and during the summer. The shop, which opened in 1977, has been organized, managed, and staffed by a group of dedicated volunteers.
Prior to its establishment, the Mary Washington House had a small hutch for a gift shop, and sold just a few items such as postcards. An involved volunteer, Bernie Kenneweg, envisioned more expansive gift shop, capable of providing financial support to the Mary Washington House, the Rising Sun Tavern, and the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop. At the time there was a large unused room in another wing of the Mary Washington House, though no inventory to sell.
Starting with the bare bones, she recruited a group of volunteers to paint the room. Kenneweg worked with the Jamestown APVA Gift Shop and borrowed inventory to stock the shelves. Locally, she was able to secure three glass display cases, a cashbox and an adding machine from the basement of an office supply store on William Street. The initial budget to open the shop, other than the borrowed inventory, was $600. Ms. Kenneweg even got a local bank to donate the checks, deposit slips, and envelopes.
Within the first year the debts were repaid, the shelves were stocked with inventory, and almost $5,000 was in the checking account.
Over the years, the shop has generated thousands of dollars to provide financial support for projects needed at three of the Washington Heritage Museums properties. Without the proceeds from the small gift shop the projects may not have been possible, or would have required extensive fundraising.
Now located in the rear of the Mary Washington House, the gift shop stocks many Virginia products such as Plantation Peanuts, Day Three soaps and bath products, and Red Rocker candies. Shelves display books for historians of all ages. It is a wonderful place to find a hostess or teacher gift, including many gift baskets beautifully arranged and packaged by the volunteers, ready for giving.
Currently, the volunteer team is led by the efforts of Vicky Fenton, Volunteer Coordinator. She works to recruit and schedule volunteers. Jan Swager, the Shop Buyer, volunteers her time to select beautiful and affordable gifts and souvenirs. Sales and other training is provided for the position and the schedule allows flexibility. The key qualification for the job is an excitement for dealing with the visiting public. The Mary Washington House had over 10,000 visitors last year from around the corner and across the globe seeking to learn more about the mother of our first president.