Retirement to retail

Diane Williams

photo by shannon rooney

When Diane Williams retired from her Bay Area job and moved with her husband to Chico four years ago, she found retirement “quite an adjustment.” After volunteering at Enloe Medical Center’s emergency room and serving on the hospital’s Volunteers Board, she took on a new task: managing the new and improved (and three times larger) gift shop in the hospital’s new Magnolia Tower. “I have no retail experience whatsoever, so this is all new to me!” she said. A brief tour of the gift store reveals that for someone with no retail background, she’s doing splendidly.

How did you go about setting up the new shop?

The most important thing for me has been to reach out to other gift shops and see what’s there to come up with what’s right for Enloe.

What changes have you made?

I knew we needed to do something special. I’ve taken it to more of the boutique type of space. My thought going into this was to “bring in Chico” [products by local vendors, such as Bella’s Beads and Maisie Jane’s]. Hopefully, it will become a destination type of shop.

What have you had to learn?

I had to learn basic retail, and that’s what I’m continuing to learn! I learned a lot over this holiday season—that there were things I should’ve bought more of, because they went quickly. But as I’ve been taking down the holiday stuff, I’ve felt we did a pretty good job as far as quantity and types of things.

What’s a success that the gift shop has had?

We [Enloe volunteers] were able in October to give a $25,000 gift toward the new [FlightCare] helicopter. We were thrilled to be able to make that contribution from last year’s gift shop proceeds.

How many hours a week do you put in?

I average probably about 60 hours. Many of our vendors are back east, so I’m up early making phone calls!

What are some memorable moments?

Just seeing people appreciate the gift shop and what it has to offer, and hearing the comments that it’s so warm and inviting.

What lies ahead?

I’m going to Las Vegas at the end of January. This will be the first time I’ve gone to a gift show, and I’ve not been to Las Vegas in over 33 years. It’s going to be a real eye-opener!