Sunday, July 24, 2005

What's a ferry ride?

If nothing else I will try to update this when I do something interesting.

Today my other half and I went on an excursion of sorts. As part of my annual growth goals I need to visit 3 different historical sights and "borrow" or steal ideas that will help me do my job. The term is "achieve operational excellence."

Ok who are we fooling here this term is so loaded with BS that the bull is going to eat two bars of ex lax not just the 2 squares that the package recommends. Anyway I digress "operational excellence" will need to be a topic for another time let me tell you about today.

In case no one has told you the state of Virginia runs a free (yes, I said FREE) ferry from Scotland, VA to Jamestown, VA. Why it costs $3.00 to travel 5 miles from Richmond to the airport on a road, but you can take a 5+ mile ferry ride for free is beyond me, but I digress again. So the state runs this ferry which is well worth the trip just to ride back and forth, and if it were up to me that would be something I would like to see as part of our "operational excellence."

Ok this train has derailed, getting back to the story we had a really cool ferry ride which I recommend to everyone, and although I am really Gung-Ho in selling history (just ask my wife) I was really disappointed by the lack of care given to that task today.

I have sought to run our gift shop with a sense of historical accuracy and care for the mission of the park. My belief is that just because it has the park logo on it or a confederate flag doesn't mean we need to sell it. I have spent the first part of this year trimming the crap from the shelves expecting to find something great to put in its place. I learned a hard lesson today... unless you have a big bank-roll to fund your exclusive products all you have to work with is the same "Made in China" historical crap that everyone will buy because it is cheap.

What's wrong with people don't they want nice things for the money they spend? How ironic it is to go to a place that is preserving history only to buy something that is disposable when you realize you have too much crap already. It is probably stuff that will never be passed on to the next generation, and even if it does they aren't going to hold the significance of it and toss it away.

I think about the pottery shard I picked up on Mars Hill in Athens. Significant to me. Kind of cool right? To an outside observer just some broken thing. 1000 years from now an important artifact.

That's where I am right now. I want the things I bring into the store to be those important finds 50-100 years from now. I want my snow globes to stand up to the scrutiny of Antique's Roadshow and be worth more than it was when it was new. I am not the guy who is going to stock the item in which the Naval Jack is being carried into battle or the 1st National Flag is being carried at the Battle of Gettysburg. I certainly would have had the knowledge not to sell native American dream catchers (as my wife pointed out) at a historical sight dealing with the eastern woodland tribes. .

That is my rant today it is for those people who don't take the time to outfit that store with products that have sight meaning, but also is researched for its historical value. Also for the people who then buy this bad stuff to keep the store stocking it.

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