Gift Shop Ministry

07.20.17 | by Kimberly Durnan

Gift Shop Ministry

    Buy once, give twice is the motto for the St. Michael’s Woman’s Exchange, an upscale gift shop in Highland Park village operated by volunteers so the proceeds from $2 million in annual sales can go to ministry.

    Beautiful gifts for a beautiful cause captures the essence of the store and the story, which began in 1958, when the Women of SMAA bought the consignment store from the Junior League for $1,500. Nearly 60 years later, about 150 volunteers serve as buyers, display artists, salespeople, cashiers, accountants and gift wrappers to make the shop a success and to ensure a healthy donation to various ministry groups. 

     “It’s a hidden little gem,” said Carolyn Tilley, a volunteer who will serve as chairman of the board in 2018. “As a volunteer, you meet people that go to your church, and do something for the community. It’s been a great fundraiser and ministry.”

    The store sells a variety of items including gifts for children, home decor, stationery, religious, and specialty foods. The store has a famous reputation for flawless gift wrapping, also done by volunteers. The wrapping can be bought for any gift, not just those purchased at the shop. During the Christmas holidays, the store wraps gifts for individuals and entire families totaling about 3,500 gifts each season, said Lisa Riggert, store director. 

    The Exchange offers an array of classic gifts including heirloom quality christening gowns; home décor items from Michael Aram and Jan Barboglio; monogrammed stationery and napkins; and items for men such as ties and pocket squares among other unique gifts.

    After operating costs are covered, the proceeds go to a variety of beneficiaries including Housing Crisis Center, Austin Street Shelter and Legacy Counseling Center to name a few. The full list can be see here.

    Virginia Baird, who has been volunteering at the shop for about 50 years said she has served at the store in a variety of roles including chairman, treasurer and consignment among others. But it was the gift wrapping that was the hardest. “The first thing I wrapped, I was so proud of myself. But the box was upside down so I had to start all over,” she recalled. Becoming part of the volunteer team all those years ago allowed Baird to meet people in her church that would otherwise be difficult to know in such a large parish. The journey has been rewarding, she said. “I do love it. I’m so proud to raise money for people who need it,” she said. “It’s very satisfying.”

    The St. Michael’s Woman’s Exchange is located at 5 Highland Park Village, in Dallas.