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Hospital gift shop makes everybody feel better

Melissa Topey • Feb 4, 2014 at 6:40 AM

Next time you need to buy a gift for someone — or maybe for yourself — check out one of the gift shops at Firelands Regional Medical Center.

Yes, a hospital gift shop.

You might be surprised. I was.

I recently worked alongside Jamie Geretz, gift shop manager, along with her righthand woman, Jackie Sharp, and the volunteers at Firelands Regional Medical Center.

The hospital has three gift shops (main campus, south campus and in the professional building where the cancer center is located). All proceeds go back to the Firelands Auxiliary, which buys equipment when there are needs after the hospital’s budget is spent.

“Last year we purchased $80,000 in equipment the hospital could not afford,” Geretz said. They bought defibrillators for locations away from the hospital, as well as equipment and software for speech therapy.

“When you make a purchase, you’re making a donation back to the hospital and you are helping others,” Geretz said. “You should feel good about it”

The hospital gift shop carries accessories, jewelry, coats, purses, snacks and pop, as well as unique items. Items that cause a lot of double-takes are the mechanical cats and dogs that look very lifelike and even simulate breathing.

Prices are the same as or sometimes better than at regular retailers.

One hot item Geretz and her staff of volunteers can’t keep in stock is a small cell phone charger that can be used twice to charge your phone when you aren’t near a power source. The reason may be the price: $24.99 — half of what you’d pay at some cell phone retail stores.

I worked alongside Helen Holl, Beverly Mathews and Marty Sawicki, just a few of the kind volunteers in the shop.

Sawicki has been a volunteer at the hospital since 1977.

“I was born in ‘74. She has been a volunteer as long as I have been alive” Geretz said. “I have dedicated staff”

Natasha Lavalley, surgical tech for Firelands Regional Medical Center, walked up to the counter with some red-foiled chocolate candies in hand. Don’t ask me what kind, I could not tell you — I am not a chocolate person — but it was still up to me to ring them up.

Holl walked me through the system: First, select the “candies” option on the touch screen. Then, either scan the item or enter the item code.

For this transaction, I had to enter the chocolate code and input the 30-cent price.

I waited on several customers and got pretty good with the system.

“You are not going to take our jobs, are you?” Holl asked.

She has no reason to worry. I love doing my On The Job series, but I already have a job I love.

“No. You’re a volunteer and I have bills to pay,” I replied.

I also learned a little about the merchandising.

Geretz and Sharp work in a tiny back room making sure items that come in get out to the floor quickly.

I helped Geretz and Sharp receive a shipment of candy, things like pretzel rods and fudge.

I confirmed the products in the box matched up with what was on the shipping label. After that, Sharp showed me how to input a new vendor into the merchandising computer system, record the items and price them.

I displayed the fudge on the gift shop floor, choosing a high traffic spot and placing the display box at an angle to make it more prominent.

“She does it like I do,” Sharp said.

Another job well done.

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