Fall 2020
HSHS St. Vincent Gift Shop By Debbie Eisele

Through the forced closure, staff was not idle

Mary Ann Brunett, manager, volunteer services, HSHS St. Vincent Gift Shop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, discussed how the pandemic has affected its retail business and how it has handled operating in such challenging times.

Brunett shared that as of the writing of this article, the store has been closed to shoppers since March 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the onset of the virus and closures, the gift store has been unable to operate. “We are waiting for approval to open, even if on a limited basis to colleagues only,” Brunett said.

According to Brunett, communication with shoppers via social media, emails, or other forms of marketing has been nonexistent since the closure of the retail environment.

Although the store had been closed to visitors, the staff was not idle. “We have done inventory, purged expired items and cleaned,” shared Brunett. Throughout this time, she also shared that the store is considering options to present to hospital administrators on special services to offer now and moving forward in the long-term. She also shared that all buying activity occurred in January and as of the publishing of this article, the store had not yet restocked.

Brunett noted some of the other HSHS hospital gift shops opened for business in late August for takeout services for colleagues and volunteers only. Retail locations allow staff and volunteers to order with a payroll deduction or credit card, via phone or email, then purchases can be picked up.

“We are giving them 35% off until Sep. 30, 2020 at all three shops,” she said. “We also created a catalog of clothing and purses. We got the idea from the Purchasing Power Plus group newsletter — they featured a hospital in Pennsylvania.”

“We gave all our candy bars, soda and chips to the colleagues as a thank you and with an announcement of the takeout concept,” Brunett elaborated.

When asked what the biggest challenge the store faced in the current retail climate, Brunett said: “We have not gotten permission to open due to the risk of spreading the virus.”

Brunett advised: “Prepare as much as you can while you are not open, look at online sales. You also need to work with Infection Prevention and Administration and take cues from them.”

>> ALSO SEE: Ascension St. Vincent’s Hospital Gift Shop

Debbie Eisele

Debbie Eisele is the former managing editor for Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and a variety of special issue publications, including: The Guide, Holiday Shop, Celebrations & Occasions and Waterfront Living.

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