First-ever gift shop planned at Capitol

By Bobby Harrison

By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – By next year, the state of Mississippi should have a new source of revenue – a gift shop in the Capitol.
It’s not being established as a money-maker for the state, but “as a service to our guests and visitors,” said Brenda Davis, architectural historian for the Department of Archives and History, whose primary duty is issues dealing with the ornate state Capitol.
Legislation passed in 2011 calls for the establishment of the gift shop. On Tuesday, the House Management Committee was informed that plans are to open it by January 2013, when the new legislative session begins.
“It is a great idea,” said Rep. Margaret Ellis Rogers, R-New Albany, a committee member. “I have talked to so many people from out of state who visit and who are very impressed with our Capitol.
“They would like some memento. There are shops in other state capitols. It could be a money-maker and it would make the state look good.”
The plan is to locate a small gift shop in an existing glass-enclosed office on the first floor in the southwest corner of the rotunda area where Capitol security is currently located. A new office for security will be constructed in the southeast corner.
Revenue from a specialty NASCAR car tag is designated for work on the Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, the War Memorial Building and the old Capitol – four historic buildings in downturn Jackson. Davis said $100,000 from that fund will be used for the renovations, though the hope is that it will not cost that much.
The gift shop will be run jointly by the House and Senate. Davis said the plan is to use existing employees to operate the gift shop, which also will include the building’s post office.
The gift shop will sell items specifically related to the Capitol, such as magnets, post cards and other items.
Davis said the ornate building, which is filled with granite and intricate designs, is toured by people from not only Mississippi, but also across the nation and by foreign tourists. She said they express admiration for the design of the building, but often ask about a gift shop.
The Management Committee also was informed that more emphasis will be placed on the upkeep of the Capitol grounds. Plus, plans are under way to deal with several leaks, such as water emanating from the dome during heavy rain storms like what occurred Tuesday.

Click video to hear audio