Nancy Hutsul, left, and Lynda Beecham with some of the hundreds of wallets at the hospital gift shop.                                 Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Nancy Hutsul, left, and Lynda Beecham with some of the hundreds of wallets at the hospital gift shop. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

A tiny shop with a big heart for the Hope hospital

The gift shop at the Fraser Canyon Hospital is bursting at the seams with new products

Tucked away in a corner of Hope, a group of the Fraser Canyon Hospital’s hardest working volunteers are busy stocking a space under 500 square feet full of Christmas items.

It’s a space that would be hard to do a pirouette in even with bare walls. Now with knitted baby clothes and Christmas ornaments hanging from all angles there is just enough room to step in and do some shopping. Under the direction of shop manager and treasurer Lynda Beecham and marketing manager Nancy Hutsul, the gift shop has been ‘revitalized’.

It started with $450 worth of stock brought in three years ago. That has now grown to $4,000 worth of stock brought in this year, everything from jewelry to children’s toys, to gifts, watches, wallets, purses, scarves and the all-time best-sellers, candy bars.

“We’re just having fun playing store,” said Hutsul. “It’s very tiny but we have…a big range of things in this tiny space. And so that’s a big change.”

There are also some handmade items. Two very industrious auxiliary knitters have the clothing racks filled with knitted children’s clothing and hats.

Clothing is a big draw and each piece stocked at the gift shop is more or less one-of-a-kind. Having few pieces that are the same is important in a small town, to avoid the awkward run-ins at the grocery store or out on the town.

The vibe of the clothes the auxiliary brings in is ‘easy to wear with a feminine touch.’ So popular are the clothes, many hospital staff shop here and hospital director Catherine Wiebe has told Beecham the gift shop is ‘her go-to place.’

“The thing is lots of these people work really long hours and so it’s pretty convenient. That was unexpected. You think in a hospital gift shop it’s going to be items for patients…but it’s not, it’s mostly the people that work here. So it’s almost like a service (for the) 100 people that work in the hospital,” Hutsul said.

RELATED: VIDEO: Sold out fashion show raises money for hospital beds

A point both Beecham and Hutsul want to emphasize is the price point of their products, which is kept low for several reasons.

“Number one we don’t want to have all this stuff and not sell it. Number two is because we are small and we are out of the way, we are not in the town,” Beecham said.

“We have to be gentle with our pricing because of the community that we’re in too, right. We know when we do our markups that it’s not what other places do, and we’re cautious with that,” Hutsul said.

The gift shop donates all of its profits back to the work of the auxiliary, which often involves purchasing equipment for the hospital. The 16 volunteers that staff the gift shop do more than just hawk these wares, they are also one of the first points of contact within the hospital so they get a lot of people asking for directions or stopping to chat.

Often the people they meet are in some sort of family or medical crisis, so a friendly face can go a long way.

“Someone’s in emergency or they’re stressed out, it’s just a break for their brain. They can come and stare at the chocolate bars, look at things. Just the fact that we’re open and there’s something else to look at or think about, really means a lot,” Hutsul said. “It’s a little bit of comfort for them.”

Beecham remembers talking with two men who looked like they had been through quite an ordeal. “I said ‘you look like you’ve been in a car accident,’ and he says ‘we were.’ They were all beat up. One of them had to be flown in and the other two were sitting here waiting for emergency. And they get to talk about it a little bit, because you’re here,” she said.

One day a woman from Alaska came in to do some shopping as Beecham and Hutsul were working on gift store stock. She ended up being the biggest spender the gift shop had ever had, and she shared her story with Hutsul.

“When she was a child she was coming down through the Fraser Canyon and their father had a heart attack. And he was taken to that little hospital,” Hutsul recalled. The woman’s father was cared for at the hospital, and because his stay there was so long the family ended up living in Hope for a time. She even went to school here.

“She had these beautiful memories of how the community wrapped around them and how this hospital took care of her dad and so she made a specific stop there and she did a whole bunch of souvenir shopping. She bought things for her whole family,” Hutsul said.

“I like to give to the community, I like to meet people and it gives me a good feeling to help out,” said Terry Wilson, a volunteer at the gift shop and the auxiliary’s only male member.

“As people come in and they see things, they buy things for patients or for themselves. And it’s good that we can provide that service for them.”

The gift shop also does a pop-up shop at the Fraser Hope Lodge every season. They’ve also popped up in Sunshine Valley during a community event there.

RELATED: Fraser Canyon Hospital Auxiliary raises $19,000

The auxiliary is also looking for a Christmas gift of their own, more volunteers are needed so the gift shop can extend their hours.

Is there more to this story?

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sheriff Avory Chapman was last seen Jan. 20 on Wellington Avenue in Chilliwack. (RCMP)
RCMP look for missing man last seen in downtown Chilliwack

21-year-old Sheriff Avory Chapman has been missing since Jan. 20

A worker is seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-based animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.
Fraser Valley chicken abuse trial delayed until February

Originally scheduled for a jury trial, Sofina and Chilliwack company now face judge alone

Recently elected NDP MLA Kelli Paddon is funding three $500 scholarships for students demonstrating a commitment to equity and social change. (Black Press file photo)
Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon funding Equity and Social Change Scholarships

One of the scholarships is open to any graduating student in the Chilliwack-Kent electoral district

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane towed across Chilliwack over weekend

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Most Read