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Whidbey General Hospital Auxiliary shop runs on volunteers

Michelle Suggs holds a plane that a Coupeville resident made and donated to be sold at the hospital’s gift shop. - Sara Hansen/Whidbey News-Times
Michelle Suggs holds a plane that a Coupeville resident made and donated to be sold at the hospital’s gift shop.
— image credit: Sara Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

When asking someone where they got their accessories, it might be surprising when they say the Whidbey General Hospital Auxiliary Gift Shop.

“It’s one of the best kept little shopping secrets,” said Michelle Suggs, hospital gift shop manager. “Every nook and cranny is filled here.”

The gift shop has always been run by volunteers, and the profits are collected by the WGH Auxiliary and used to help the hospital purchase equipment it needs. The funds raised have gone to help purchase the new Breast MRI scanner, and also improve the birth center.

“Everyone is a volunteer and has been for a long time,” Suggs said. “It’s a congenial, wonderful group of ladies.”

Suggs said the volunteers try their best to offer local items for customers to purchase in the shop. The store sells soaps and lotions from Oak Harbor Soap Company; books by the late Dorothy Neil, a longtime columnist for the Whidbey News-Times, cards by Patty Picco; and chocolates from Sweet Mona’s in Langley.

“We try to be a service to the community, and do what we can for local products,” Suggs said.

It’s not just artists or purveyors that supply the local wears.

Community members also donate their talents to the shop. One gentlemen in Coupeville makes wooden toys for the shop. Currently they have one of the toy airplanes he constructed. Others donated knitted items, such as baby hats and sweaters.

Most of the most loyal customers to the gift shop are the employees, Suggs said. Many shop there for snacks or for gifts. A few patients or those visiting do stop in as well, she said.

Over the years, they’ve experimented with different products to see what would fit well in their shop.

“Little by little we’ve branched out and we’re getting a little braver,” Suggs said.

Suggs said they are planning on increasing hours for the holiday season.

Currently, the shop is open  10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the exception of Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the store remains open until 8 p.m.

About 14 volunteers help out at the gift shop and average four to six hours a week, Suggs said.

“You’re not getting paid, so you got to love what you’re doing,” Suggs said.

 

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