By RUTH CAMPBELL
The Museum Store inside the Finney County Historical Museum has added locally produced crafts it hopes will create added interest for the outlet.
"We are excited to announce that we will be carrying original artwork from local artist Robert Meyer," said Johnetta Hebrlee, store manager and education coordinator. "He specializes in pencil drawings of area scenes and sites. Currently, we have a longhorn and calf drawing and several images of rustic barns in the area, some still standing and others that are not."
Ceramic works by Garden City artist Brian McCallum also are available now, including vases, platters and bowls in his signature style.
"We are also carrying wonderful handcrafted puppies made by Synthia Preston," the manager said. "She combines a mixture of cotton prints with denim to create lovable puppies for that little one in your family. We have several in the store that feature John Deere fabric, as well as KU and KSU puppies."
Among books and videos are regional, cultural and historical publications, pioneer and Kansas-specific reading, cookbooks, children's reading and activity books, and accounts penned by local and area authors. There are also volumes focusing on local veterans, Garden City and Finney County, area communities and southwest Kansas, as well as CDs produced by The Garden City Telegram that document the infamous Clutter case, and a history of the Garden City Police Department.
Hebrlee, in her fourth year as manager, said the store opened in 1994, evolving from a couple of display cases on the museum floor selling books about Finney County. The store doesn't have specific employees, so it's usually Hebrlee or a museum receptionist on duty, Museum Executive Director Steve Quakenbush said.
The people who come through the store are what she enjoys most about this aspect of her work because it allows her to connect with the public.
Customers have come in from New Zealand, Japan and China. The site also has been used for class reunions, which is interesting to Hebrlee because she can learn about people from Garden City who have left are up to now.
"Connecting with people is probably my most favorite thing about my job," she said.
Under rules the shop operates under, Hebrlee said, more than 30 percent of the merchandise must reflect on the history of Garden City. But since Quakenbush has come on board, the shop has been working to get more local people represented, like Myer, McCallum, Preston and others. "All these people tie back to Garden City. Their families have been here many years, plus (the items) are homemade," Hebrlee said.
She added that the shop has unique wooden toys and jacks, kits from which kids can make windmills or trains they can paint, and sewing kits that help kids learn how to make quilt squares, American flag samplers, corn husk or rag dolls.
Quakenbush said the store is just one of several revenue sources the historical society uses. The society obtains an allocation each year from the Finney County Commission.
It also holds fundraisers, receives memorial gifts and contributions and receives some income from doing historical research.
The society's big fundraisers are the historic homes tour, a beef rib sale held around Labor Day and an antique appraisal fair in October. "We are a nonprofit organization," Quakenbush said.
The store is open during summer exhibit hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays, offering Kansas and sunflower paraphernalia, books, videos, postcards, handcrafts, decorative items, locally-created original art and pottery, unique toys, T-shirts, jewelry, historic photographs and items specific to local and area history.
A number of new items have been added recently.
Finney County Historical Society members qualify for 20 percent discounts, and the store accepts Mastercard, Visa, cash and in-state checks. FCHS memberships and gift certificates are available, too.
"We are looking to expand our offerings by bringing in several other vendors and becoming a hub for Kansas items and local craft and artwork," Hebrlee said.