They aren’t big – a little more than 1400 square feet of retail space at Burnet Campus, and only 300 at Liberty – but the Gift Shops at Cincinnati Children’s do some serious business. And, once you step foot inside, it’s easy to see why– it’s a fun place to shop!
Gift Shop staff serves about 500 customers a day, equating to roughly one customer per minute, and they approach every interaction with smiles and big hearts. You may have heard the Gift Shop mantra – “The more you shop, the more we give” – and it is entirely true. The gift shop is staffed by volunteers who work alongside a group of paid retail professionals, and all of the proceeds are donated right back to Cincinnati Children’s.
These volunteers are here because they love to give back to the medical center and our patients. They run the cash registers, of course, but they are also balloon bunch designers, stuffed animal experts, book reviewers and personal shoppers for families who call with requests to send the perfect gift to a patient.
The Cincinnati Children’s Gift Shop dates back to 1910, when the Junior Co-operative Society first formed. The volunteer organization began as a social sewing group, making and selling white dresses and hemmed washcloths to families of children hospitalized at Cincinnati Children’s. From there, they began hand-making the clown toys for which they quickly became famous.
By 1942, the Junior Co-op opened the hospital’s first gift shop. Since that time, the store’s offerings and client base have grown and evolved, making adjustments as needed to maintain the reputation of having just the right gift for any recipient.
In 2010, when the Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus officially opened, it included a 120 square foot gift shop with limited inventory. It operated out of the tiny room until June 2015 when the shop was moved up to the second floor entrance. The new 300 square foot space provided more room for shoppers to find what they have already come to expect from the gift shop, including stuffed animals, toys, and snacks.
History of Giving Back
The gift shop’s long-standing reputation of charitable support goes all the way back to 1942 when the first shop opened. It operates as a non-profit and all proceeds from sales in the shop are given back to Cincinnati Children’s to support clinical and research efforts. In total, the Junior Co-operative Society has donated more than $7.4 million in gift shop proceeds to the hospital. In 2016, the gift shop made its largest single-year donation of $649,000 which helped fund a high-risk maternity clinic, suicide prevention programs, and 3-D imaging within the Cardiology Department, among other things.
Gift Shop Offerings
When it comes to having the hottest items in-stock, gift shop buyers take pride in staying on top of the latest trends. Every year, staff members attend market conventions in Atlanta, Dallas, even the International Toy Fair in New York. You can find baby gifts, games and toys for children of all ages, magazines and spa items, Cincinnati Children’s logo merchandise, balloons and fresh flowers, a huge selection of jewelry and among the best selections of Tervis tumblers and Beanie Boos in the city!
Also among the fun gifts, are whole sections of practical items families may need during an inpatient stay. So if you find yourself staying unexpectedly or have forgotten a necessity, chances are the gift shop sells it. And if not, just let them know what you need and they will work with the concierge team to get it for you as quickly as possible!
If you have been looking for a way to get involved with Cincinnati Children’s, volunteering in the gift shop may be a good fit! Commitments require only two weekday shifts per month and three weekend shifts per year. Volunteers must be willing to work in a fun-filled, fast-paced environment throughout their scheduled shift. Some of our current volunteers are more than 90 years old and have been part of the gift shop family for decades – we think being around kids keeps them young! If you are interested in becoming a member of the Jr. Co-operative society and volunteering at the gift shop, you can email them directly at email@example.com, or call (513-636-4310).
Remember… “the more you shop, the more we give!”