museums&MORE Winter 2013
Industry Spotlight, Mary L. Parelli, &More, January 2013

Mary L. Parelli, Manager
Weathervane Museum Store
Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Lancaster, Pa.

1. What makes your store unique?
At Landis Valley Museum, we are in the unique position where we have access to beautiful merchandise, much of which is one-of-a-kind. This gives us the opportunity to offer a shopping experience like no other. At the Weathervane, we take in merchandise from our many on-site artisans, as well as from local artisans. Because we sell a lot of this merchandise on consignment, we are able to sell at very competitive pricing.

2. What is your retail background?
I owned my own retail gift shop for more than 15 years in Staten Island, N.Y. When my husband retired in 2006, we relocated to peaceful Lancaster County and I became the manager of the Weathervane Museum Store.

3. What is the most popular product you sell?
It depends on the season. Right now our popular items include a Pennsylvania German Belsnickel, tin candy canes made by our tinsmith and soaps and lotions made by a local artisan. Because we have a Lancaster Long Rifle exhibit going on in the museum this year, the Rifle Catalog is selling extremely well.

4. What is your favorite part about working in this industry?
No two days are ever the same. I would also say the constant change of merchandise and displays. And since we are in a tourist area, we are fortunate enough to meet people from all over the world.

5. What advice do you have for other retailers?
Think outside the box. For us, that meant bringing in a lot of consignment merchandise. We are housed in a two-story Victorian, and when the recession hit, we were unable to fill the store with purchased merchandise. With consignment, merchandise is not paid for until sold, there is only a 30 percent markup and we were able to completely fill our store. It’s a win for everyone — the customer, the artisan and the Weathervane.

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