Banner year for Filberg Gift Shop

Filberg Gift Shop in Comox has had a banner year in 2011.

VALERIE GRAHAM presents a cheque for $12,000 to Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park Association president Mo MacKendrick on behalf of the volunteer-run Filberg Lodge Gift Shop.

VALERIE GRAHAM presents a cheque for $12,000 to Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park Association president Mo MacKendrick on behalf of the volunteer-run Filberg Lodge Gift Shop.

Filberg Gift Shop has had a banner year!

In 2010, Filberg volunteer Val Graham envisioned a rethinking and reopening of the Filberg Gift Shop, proposing a formal business plan for the Gift Shop to be self-sufficient, guided and operated by a volunteer committee.

Marshalling an enthusiastic volunteer base of around 20, many of whom had retail and/or marketing experience, Graham reorganized the gift shop’s space, built a business operations model, and began collecting donated vintage and “collectible” items — all with the intent of contributing not only to the conservation and preservation of the Filberg Heritage site, but to draw a wider community to the lodge and park.

The Filberg Gift Shop opened its doors Mother’s Day weekend in 2011.

“The collectibles aspect of our lovely items seems to fit very nicely with the Heritage Lodge and Park,” said Val Graham. “Sometimes,” she commented, “the Filberg Gift Shop is like stepping into the past.”

She was at first surprised at the response of FHLPA members as well as the general public to the idea of donating quality items, but over the months, the incoming inventory swelled and there seemed to be a corresponding interest by the purchasing public.

Eventually, realizing that the Lodge Gift Shop had begun to carve a unique niche in the Comox Valley, the business plan shifted to focus primarily on donated “collectibles” augmented by a few purchased items. As the inventory swelled, so did the income and, not insignificantly, a loyal customer base.

“Many people have made generous donations of previously cherished treasures they believe would find new homes, and thereby contribute to ongoing life of the Filberg Lodge and Park. Their donations are the foundation of the Gift Shop’s success,” said Graham.

“Their thoughtfulness has made it possible for the Filberg Lodge Gift Shop to present a cheque for $12,000 to the board to be used for the preservation and maintenance of this amazing facility.”

Ever innovating, Graham sought to create more of a bond with the community through special sales and themes. Co-ordinating with the Filberg Herb and Cutting Garden Committee, the Gift Shop sold fabulous bouquets that lured new customers into the tiny shop.

The Gift Shop closed for the fall then reopened in November for the So You Missed the Filberg Festival? silent auction and for three weekends of fair trade special events leading up to Christmas.

Reaching out to local entrepreneurs, the gift shop volunteer team hosted collaborative sales with local fair trade companies that support various global initiatives such as Cambodian women’s silk farms, Ugandan grandmothers’ textile industries, and a South American health care program.

When the Filberg Lodge roof was reshingled, the Gift Shop sold handmade birdhouses made from the old cedar shingles.

With its inaugural year under its belt, the Filberg Lodge Gift Shop will once again open its doors May 10 for the Mother’s Day weekend, and has its sights set on another banner year filled with special events, including being part of the Filberg Festival’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

If you have articles that you would like to donate to the Gift Shop, please contact Val Graham at 250-339-7659.

Comox Valley Record

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