Following a tour at the Creston Museum, a look around the Mercantile Gift Shop is a great way to finish a visit.
Offering everything from pottery to history books and candy to jewelry, it’s much more than just a place to grab a quick memento — the work of local artisans make it an excellent way to learn even more about the Creston Valley.
“The summer staff are ambassadors for Creston,” said gift shop co-ordinator Janet Holder. “That’s an important part. I put a lot of emphasis on getting local crafts to stock the gift shop.”
Holder joined the museum’s board three years ago, and quickly developed a passion for the gift shop, which hadn’t had a volunteer regularly overseeing it for a few years before.
Previously, a wheeled cart served as a “gift shop”, but in 2005, a committee led by former board member Julie Breton had the building’s office renovated, adding old-fashioned shelving and wooden flooring to the room.
From the beginning, local products and old-fashioned candy were staples — and those aspects have only expanded. Candy is now packaged in custom vintage-style labels with fun sayings, and shelves are packed with locally produced items.
Among those are pottery from Pridham Studios and Blue Moon Pottery — both of which created designs exclusively for the museum — concrete art by David and Susan Shearer, Bruce Paterson prints, Bodylove Bathworks soap, seed-infused cards from Paper Garden, a range of items by Wynndel Lavender, necklaces by Ellen Tzakis and First Nations items from Legend Logos. On the beverage front, ciders from William Tell and juices from Tabletree can also be found on the shelves.
Often, it doesn’t take long for visitors to ask questions about the local products, which can result in an unexpected tour of the Creston Valley.
“We direct them to shops if they want to see more,” said Holder.
The museum offers a selection of locally written books by a variety of authors, including a 1985 historical supplement published by the Advance. It offers some of its own products, as well, including reproductions of fruit packing labels, and a range of books published by the museum detailing historical aspects of farming, businesses and more.
“Our in-house publications are our No. 1 seller,” said Holder.
Simply put, the Mercantile Gift Shop is an excellent place to shop for tourists and locals, and Holder hopes to keep making the experience better.
“My goal is to increase the number of local artists,” she said. “It’s just an honour to have their work in here.”