News Column

Business: Gift shop manager has plans for Dacotah Prairie Museum

July 3, 2014

By Bryan Horwath, American News, Aberdeen, S.D.

July 03--Beginning as a teenager and continuing into her 20s, Aberdeen native Patricia Kendall volunteered at the Dacotah Prairie Museum, gaining an appreciation for the facility's treasures and the experience visitors received upon entering its doors.

Now raising a family of her own in her hometown, Kendall is back at the county-funded museum after beginning in April as its office and gift shop manager and she's looking to update the shop's brand.

"It's like I've come full circle," Kendall said Wednesday. "It's like I came home in a way. I have always had such fondness and enthusiasm for the museum and what it provides and offers people. I'm not a curator or museum director, but I can put my energy into the gift shop and try to enhance the experience that people have here that way."

Part of Kendall's vision is to give the gift shop a "signature" that she said has been missing, including playing more to the space's book store experience potential and local flavor.

"Part of this process was asking our visitors what they expected to see in our gift shop," Kendall said. "When I started this spring, hardly anything in the shop said 'Aberdeen' or 'South Dakota' and that's something that our out-of-town visitors brought up. They want to buy something that has the name of where they've been."

Kendall said others expressed an interest in the shop offering more locally produced products and works from local authors. On Monday, Kendall and some helping hands rearranged the entire gift shop space to give it a new feel, one of a number of changes Kendall plans for the coming weeks and months.

"What I really want to stress is that the gift shop, and the museum itself, are ever-changing," Kendall said. "If a person hasn't been here in a while, we welcome them to stop down and see what we have going on. Our exhibits are always changing and we have a lot of remarkable items here; at any given time, we only display about 10 percent of what we have. As far as the gift shop, I want it to be a downtown Aberdeen destination because downtown doesn't really have anything like a gift shop."

After working at both Northern State University and Presentation College and spending years as in event planning and coordinating for Super 8 Worldwide, Kendall said she's enjoyed her foray into the retail world.

"It's been very interesting to observe people and their shopping and browsing habits; it's very educational," Kendall said. "I believe this is just the beginning of what our gift shop here can be and how it can complement the museum and the city of Aberdeen."

As of May 31, Kendall reports that 8,970 walk-in visitors have been to the museum this year which, she points out, is significantly up from last year's pace when 10,500 visited for all of 2013. Kendall added that the facility hosts close to 700 visits from area schools every year.

Admission to the museum, 21 S. Main St., is free and it is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For a full list of Dacotah Prairie Museum exhibits and events, visit

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Source: Aberdeen American News (SD)

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