The White House History Shop White House Christmas Ornament

The White House History Shop By Debbie Eisele

A gift shop that features high-quality collectors’ merchandise

The White House Historical Association, is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1961 by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The mission is “to protect, preserve, and provide public access to the rich history of America’s Executive Mansion.”

The White House Historical Association
Photos courtesy of The White House History Shop.

The White House History Shop features collectors’ ornaments, books and other items that are “inspired by and representative of our mission to preserve the White House and its history,” Gina Sherman, vice president of retail strategy and sales for The White House Historical Association, said. 

Sherman shared that the store provides a unique shopping experience that is “elevated by our knowledgeable and accommodating retail staff in our White House History Shop, located at 1610 H Street NW, Washington, D.C.” Bob Milam, store manager, works diligently to assist with all corporate, fundraising and personal shopping needs. “(He) helps customers find the perfect White House-inspired gift for any occasion,” she said.

The White House History Shop White House Christmas Ornament

When asked what the most requested item in inventory is right now, Sherman said it’s the Official 2021 White House Ornament, which was designed to honor the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. “Since 1981, the Association has designed and manufactured the Official White House Ornament, and each year, the ornament commemorates a President’s time in the White House, in sequential order, or a significant White House anniversary,” she detailed. “We have a base of faithful collectors who purchase the ornament every year for their own posterity, or to give as gifts to family, friends, employees, and others. The ornament, which is made annually by a veteran-founded business in Rhode Island, features a unique and elegant design, and has consistently proved to be our most popular item year after year.”

Another popular seller is leather goods — journals, engraved or embellished. Overall books, produced by its publishing team, jewelry, children’s gifts and porcelain merchandise, such as its Halcyon Days collection, are all top-sellers in the store.

“Every purchase made at the Association is an act of goodwill. As a private, non-profit organization, the White House Historical Association depends on the generosity of the American people to support our efforts to protect the Executive Mansion’s collection, preserve its interiors, and ensure public access to its living history,” Sherman said.

Branding is important to The White House History Shop. Price tags, product packaging, fabric tags and in-store signage all reflect The White House Historical Association brand name. “The brand name is also featured prominently outside of the store, on a large banner hanging on the side of our building, and on a sign on the building wall next to the entrance. The brand name is also a prominent feature of marketing collateral and is often the first listed, or at the very least, one of the main features,” she shared.

During the past year, The White House Historical Shop overhauled its online retail experience, “switching to the Shopify platform for online purchase.” Sherman noted that this “shift required transferral of its entire catalog of products onto the new platform, as well as training with the back end of an entirely new system.”

The White House History Shop White House Christmas Ornament
The 2021 holiday ornament is now available.

“Additionally, this was a task of collaboration and cooperation, requiring constant and consistent communication between our Retail team, our Digital team, our Publications team, and others. While this proved to be a major undertaking, and took months to organize and implement, it was well worth the effort for the sleek, user-friendly experience it has provided our online consumers who visit,” she detailed.

“At the Association, our mission is to preserve, protect, and provide access to the White House’s rich history. With these educational components steeped in every aspect of our work, including the retail experience, our tip is this: know your audience and make their shopping experience meaningful and educational,” she shared. “We create beautiful gifts rich in White House history to provide our customers with just that – meaning, education and beauty.”

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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