Article From the Summer 2003 Issue of


The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation


The museumís newly remodeled gift shop was officially opened Sunday, August 3, and is now serving our visitors in a beautiful new environment. Thanks to Gift Shop Manager Doug Anderson, and the special assistance of Ted and Anna Thomas, we now have a more efficient layout and enhanced customer service, all in dramatically improved surroundings.

Letís go back a few years. The idea of a shop to sell a few museum-branded souvenirs was an early part of NYMTís transformation back in the early 1980ís from an open restoration shop to a more complete museum experience. Badly needed was an entry space where visitors could be welcomed to the museum, purchase admission, and in winter find refuge from the cold. At this time, adjacent to the visitor entrance door was an enclosed shop area. It was decided to clean out the shop and create a "visitor center" there, to be heated by an authentic railroad station wood stove.

Many hours of volunteer time were spent clearing the room and constructing the spaces that eventually became the visitor center/gift shop and the adjoining gallery. Looking through the photos on file documenting the construction, we recall people like Gordy Hogue who was a wizard at carpentry and who could have the work done before mere mortals could sketch a design. We find Tom Olson and Bob Barnes in there with hammers and nails, and long-time volunteers Paul Monte, Rick and Missy Holahan, Ted Strang, Jim Dierks, Rick Fischpera and his dad and wife, Marge, plus many others all putting in long hours to see things through to completion.
    Believe it or not, this is what the space looked like when the bold
    idea of a gift shop was proposed back in 1981!

After cleaning out the room, the floor was leveled, the plywood lower walls cleaned, and attractive soffits added around the room with recessed lighting. A suspended ceiling with built-in fluorescent fixtures, new doors, revised wiring, and column enclosures completed the basic room. The plywood lower walls were stained and the rest of the room given coats of off-white paint, while on the exterior of the room more ideas were afoot. With Elmira, Corning & Waverly interurban car 107 just outside the doorway leading from the room into the main exhibit hall, we decided to create the impression of an interurban trolley station, complete with board-and-batten walls, shingled roof overhang, platform lights and station-style decorative eave brackets.

When completed, NYMT achieved its goal of a welcoming room, including photo exhibits portraying early activities at the museum, donated chairs and a table, and the beginnings of a gift shop complete with NYMT patches, coffee mugs, engineer caps and a counter top for serving customers. As a portent of good things to come, on our last work day cleaning up for the opening weekend, a man stopped by with his late uncleís scratch-built O-scale models of Rochester area trolleys. Would we be able to use them? You bet! The models became the finishing touch for our brand new facility.

    Gordy Hogue and Tom Olson start to see progress as the visitor
    center is framed in and lighting around the periphery goes in.

Over the twenty years since then, the gift shop grew in its importance to the museumís bottom line and in the variety of items it had for sale. For most of that time, Doug Anderson has handled the selection and stocking of inventory, as well as pricing, record keeping, and all the other aspects of running a business-within-a-business. As the shop started to show its age, and the sales volume outgrew the arrangement, Doug began to lay plans for a remodeling. He wanted increased display space for more goods, and wanted it arranged so customers could pick things from racks and proceed to the checkout, to free up the workload on Marie Minerís volunteer staff. With input from the volunteers, he sought a more efficient layout for the shop, including the ticket desk. All that, plus a general sprucing-up, was approved by the Board and remodeling got underway in the winter of 2002/2003.

A new, more efficient layout moved our antique oak ticket desk over by the doors leading to the exhibit hall, helping ticket staff keep better track of customers and avoiding a clog at the entry door. Peter Leas, Kent Carpenter, and Ted Thomas were among many who helped install slat wall, move wiring, etc. Relocating the safe to another corner of the room made it possible to create a large area with "slat wall" for self-service hangers, hooks, and shelves for merchandise. The pot-bellied stove took up a new assignment in the trolley factory diorama in the exhibit hall, and things were looking pretty good. Except for the floor, which looked like the old, painted asphalt that it was and which fought the feeling of welcome warmth we were looking for. Enter Anna Thomas.

With experience in retail sales, Ted Thomasí wife volunteered her knowledge and ideas, as well as her energies as the new look became reality. Anna and Ted generously decided to underwrite the purchase and installation of rugged, commercial carpeting for the gift shop. Also, while Anna has contributed handmade stuffed animals and taken charge of keeping the shop spotless, Ted and his home workshop have provided a neat storage unit for on-hand inventory, made a new stand for the cash register, and refinished that ticket desk from battleship gray to its beautiful, original oak. We are truly indebted to Ted and Anna for their devotion to the remodeling of the gift shop, and at the grand re-opening ceremony, Doug presented them with the coveted NYMT Certificate of Appreciation in thanks for their help.

Pictures donít do justice to the improved appearance of the gift shop, so youíll just have to come out and see for yourself. Stocked with plenty of souvenirs and books for kids as well as grownups, there are lots of things to interest our visitors, and now we have a much-improved welcoming place for them too.

    Doug Anderson shares the honors with Anna and Ted Thomas
    as the newly remodeled gift shop is officially opened.