Gift store provides ‘shopping therapy’ - East Valley Tribune: News

Gift store provides ‘shopping therapy’

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Posted: Sunday, October 22, 2006 6:45 am | Updated: 2:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

“Shopping Therapy” — is a popular attraction at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa. It’s also a reference regularly made by shoppers to describe their feelings as they browse in the new, 855-squarefoot Baywood Boutique, a unique gift shop in the center’s lobby that opened Oct. 15.

“I get a relaxed feeling when I shop at Baywood Boutique because I know I’m spending my money for a good cause — and for very good prices,” said Evelyn Schanilec, a hospital employee.

“It’s shopping therapy.”

“It’s not your regular hospital gift shop,” said Linda Hunter, shop manager, referring to the wide selection of gifts that are not found in traditional hospital gift shops.

Like kitchen tables and chairs that sell for $175.

Or purses between $30 and $70, jewelry for $20 or less. And fireplace mantels, patio furniture, lawn ornaments, wall clocks, antique desks, stylish clothing for men and women — including fancy women’s shoes — and

much more.

“Our new gift shop is aimed at hospital employees, patients, visitors and people who live in the East Valley who are looking for items that are low-priced and sold in a very nice environment,” said Hunter, who also manages a smaller satellite gift shop next door at the Baywood Heart Hospital.

She said the shop is one-of-a-kind in the Valley and similar to stores found in shopping malls and commercial retail districts.

The new, larger shop was formerly located in an adjacent building but relocated when a seven-story tower was opened Oct. 15 on the hospital campus at the northwest corner of Power and Broadway roads in Mesa.

Hunter said the shop, called the Baywood Boutique, was not only architecturally designed to attract shoppers, but also is filled with items that are both traditional hospital gift shop merchandise as well as those rarely found in a medical setting.

Nearly all the merchandise is changed every two weeks to offer more variety, Hunter said.

“The architects lighted the ceiling so that people who enter the lobby instinctively follow the light and move toward the shop,” Hunter explained.

Once inside, hospital volunteers serve customers.

More than 40 of the hospital’s 1,000 volunteers work one, four-hour shift each week at the gift shops, said Alma Riedel, director of volunteers.

“The volunteers receive a meal ticket at the cafeteria and a 10 percent discount, but no pay,” said Riedel. “We treat them as our unpaid work force. But we need more volunteers.”

The volunteers last year sold more than $500,000 worth of gifts at both the old and satellite shops and expect to increase that amount by more than $50,000 at the new location.

The money is given to the nonprofit Banner Baywood Medical Center board of directors, who distribute the money to various departments as well as to programs such as the clown and dog therapy used to lift patients’ spirits and other programs, Riedel said.

“We call our satellite gift shop the ‘Heart Mart’,” Riedel said. “Both shops provide shopping therapy, for sure.”

Riedel said the Heart Mart would be open longer if more volunteers were available to work at the smaller gift shop.

She said many hospital employees and patients visit the shops primarily to get away from the dreary medical facilities and hospital rooms.

Besides nontraditional gifts, the shops also sells items typically found in hospitals such as cards, candy, flowers, stuffed animals and balloons.

The hospital does not deliver the larger gifts, including a wall tree used to hang clothing, so buyers must provide for it.

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