Mercy Hospital renovates gift shop

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Greg Easter, of the Mercy Hospital Environmental Services Department, shows the renovation in progress at the Berryville hospital. Behind him, a wall between the old gift shop and an adjoining room has been removed. This will effectively double the square footage of the gift shop, which is run by the Mercy Hospital Auxiliary. (David Bell/Carroll County News)

Bookcases scatter across the empty gift shop at Mercy Hospital, placed on the half-removed carpet. A large open space separates two rooms, both covered in sawdust.

According to Kristy Estrem, president of Mercy Hospital, construction workers cut that wall out just this morning. Estrem explained that the Mercy Hospital Auxiliary has been working with the foundation to expand the gift shop, doubling the space in size.

The auxiliary, she said, operates the gift shop on a mostly volunteer basis.

"They staff it and go to market to purchase the stuff to sell," she said.

Gift shop manager Joyce McMullen, who volunteers her time to the shop, expressed excitement over the renovation.

"We didn't have much space, so it'll be really nice," she said. Having double the space, McMullen noted, will allow her to purchase a larger variety of goods to sell. Though she purchases many goods from vendors at an annual hospital conference, McMullen also stocks the gift shop with items endemic to the auxiliary.

These items include baked goods, Valentine's Day candy baskets and a cookbook with recipes from members of the auxiliary.

"They have a lot of Razorback stuff. They've got clothing. They've got lotions. They've got sundry items like toothbrushes and back-scratchers and combs," Estrem said, noting that she finds it easy to grab an item from the gift shop for patients.

Cody Qualls, executive director of Mercy Health Foundation, pointed out that the gift shop has items for special occasions such as birthdays and holidays and usually at low prices.

"You don't have to be a patient here to come by and look at the gift shop. We encourage the general public to come take a look, especially once we get it re-opened," he said.

The auxiliary, Qualls continued, functions to give back to the hospital.

"Their sole driving force is to raise funds to benefit the hospital. There's no paid staff. They give funds to improve patient care here in Berryville, and they do a great job of that," he said.

Along with the gift shop, the auxiliary also runs a thrift shop in Green Forest and hosts several fundraisers throughout the year such as bake sales and Valentine's Day candy sales.

With the gift shop slated to re-open by March 1, McMullen said she hopes the renovation will bring in more people throughout the community.

"The majority of our customers are hospital employees but we like having a lot of people come in the shop from everywhere," she said. "It's not just for hospital employees. It's for everybody."

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