Brookings organizations relying on gift shop sales to make ends meet

Local News

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) – When you think of local businesses, museums might not be the first thing to come to mind. Many across KELOLAND rely on donations and sales in their gift shops to keep them running. A group of them from Brookings are coming together to encourage people to shop local.

There are many interesting pieces to see at the South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings, and, if you ask Membership Coordinator Carolyne Hart, she’ll say, you can even find many in their gift shop.

“From potters, to glassmakers, to painters, jewelers, and, so, the items that we sell, many of them are one of a kind, really unique, really beautiful,” Hart said.

Around 45 percent of the museum’s revenue is generated through their gift shop, and because of the pandemic, they haven’t been seeing as many visitors.

“It also impacted, to some degree, our membership program which is also a key component of who we are and how we’re able to deliver on our mission,” Hart said.

That same impact is shared by similar organizations, such as the Children’s Museum of South Dakota.

“Often times, shoppers don’t think of local cultural organizations as places to find unique gifts,” Director of Marketing Kerrie Vilhauer said.

This week, Vilhauer is looking to inspire shoppers to think small this holiday season. This is through a new initiative called ‘Gifting for Good.’

“When you support cultural organizations, you’re supporting the people who work in them, you’re supporting the mission they accomplish, and you’re just making our community a closer and more collaborative place,” Vilhauer said.

Other organizations involved are Brookings Art Council, McCroy Gardens and the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum. If you stop into four of the five organizations, you can be in a drawing to win one hundred dollars – twenty dollars from each location.

“By coming together, we have a bigger voice, and we’re able to make a bigger splash,” Vilhauer said.

Because showing community support is a gift that keeps on giving. Gifting for Good starts Thursday November 12th and goes through Saturday the 14th.

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