Oak Park Conservatory to open gift shop

Could follow Seven Generations Ahead's model

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By Ben Meyerson

Chicago Journal Editor

The Oak Park Conservatory is making moves to pull in a bit more cash next year, finally opening a gift shop that's been planned since 2000.

At a Park District of Oak Park meeting Thursday, Conservatory Manager Henrietta Yardley said the gift shop should open in April of next year, selling things from gardening supplies to greeting cards.

Much of the conservatory's traffic is made up of women, Yardley said, many of whom have children. Since the conservatory is free, many people might be willing to open up their wallets in a gift shop to support the facility.

It wouldn't be the first time the conservatory has tried selling goods — they've been selling unusual potted plants for sale since 2002 with success.

"If people bought plants, we believe they'd be willing to buy other things," Yardley said. "We think we can show a profit within three years."

The conservatory is planning to follow fellow Oak Park shop Ten Thousand Villages' model of volunteers selling hand-made items for charity. Yardley said the conservatory is hoping to leverage its active group of volunteers, Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory, to staff the shop.

The park district has budgeted $10,000 for 2011 to help get the gift shop off the ground.

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