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East Street Boutique volunteers at Carle Richland make switch to online shopping

East Street Boutique volunteers at Carle Richland make switch to online shopping
The Carle Richland Memorial Hospital gift shop in Olney started as a curio cabinet outside of the administration area. “That was a long, long time ago,” Carla Gardner, longtime store volunteer, said.

Since then, it has evolved into a high-end gift shop, offering everything from clothes and purses to a delicious selection of teas. Boutique sales contribute significant philanthropic support, including a $150,000 commitment to support women’s health. When COVID-19 forced the store into lockdown, gift shop organizers decided to take the unique boutique online.

Nearly a dozen volunteers have been inventorying stock and entering everything into the new system.

“It’s a lot of work,” Debi Phillips, another long-time store volunteer said. “Every item has to be logged in, and if there are five different colors, you have to enter every one.” If that were not enough, volunteers were also forced to relocate their storage during the switch, adding another wrinkle to the mix. In typical Auxiliary fashion, however, they took it all in stride, using the opportunity to inventory old stock and organize the new space by season.

In the end, the unexpected downtime has been a blessing in disguise, providing volunteers with time to take the popular gift shop into the modern age.

“It was time for us to get online and track inventory better,” Gardner said. In-store purchases will also improve, with bar code scans replacing handwritten tickets. From now on, volunteers can simply scan each item at checkout. “It’ll pop up everything that we need.”

The boutique can deliver gifts ordered online to patients and staff in the hospital or offer pick-up service at Blank’s Insurance on Whittle Avenue in Olney. Eventually, however, both volunteers look forward to seeing customers back in the store.

“We’re ready to get people coming back,” Phillips said, who hopes it could be sometime later this year.
Until then, anyone can see the store’s collection of unique gifts online at, thanks to a hard-working team of volunteers who didn’t let a global pandemic keep them from serving the community they love.

Categories: Community

Tags: gifts, giving, Olney, philanthropy