Peer Perspective: Cassie Standley, Great Plains Nature Center
Manager, Owl’s Nest Gift Shop
What’s been the biggest adjustment for you since you took over the store?
Managing my schedule with two jobs here. In addition to Gift Shop Manager, I also wear the hat of Volunteer Coordinator. Keeping the store stocked with classic favorites, as well as deciding what new, interesting things to add, while planning events and coordinating volunteers for daily operations is a big challenge. I’ll usually switch back and forth between the two roles throughout the day, so it keeps me on my toes.
Any advice on managing volunteers versus paid employees?
In the gift shop, we typically work with people who have references from staff, board members or existing volunteers. The previous two shop managers even come back to help me with inventory. It’s better to have references or only people you trust and have experience working with in the shop, since they will be interacting directly with money and customers. The main difference between staff and volunteers is you have to be more flexible with volunteer schedules. Staff members work in the shop on a weekly basis, whereas volunteers come in up to a few times a month, depending on how busy we are. We do have a super-volunteer, Dana, who is always ready to help out at the drop of a hat, so we’re pretty lucky there.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Great Plains Nature Center?
I’m constantly surrounded by people — staff, volunteers and visitors — who get as excited about nature as I do. Because of that, I’m always learning or experiencing something new.
The Christmas article the Wichita Eagle did on all the nonprofit retailers in the area was nice. Do you feel like the people in Wichita and beyond are supportive of their cultural organizations?
That article was great! I’d love to see more museum gift shops become destination stores, because we carry such unique items. Wichita has had a strong “shop local” movement in recent years, and I think a lot of other places have seen this, too. We have certainly felt supported and appreciated by our community.