There is an abundance of Scarlet and Gray clothing and OSU tailgate items visible through the windows of the University Hospital gift shop. But you have to go inside this Wexner Medical Center store and talk to staff to learn just how deep the Buckeye spirit runs here.
The “team” that makes the Scarlet Ribbon Gift Shop a success and a favorite stopping-and-shopping place for patients, visitors and staff is led by Tomasean Kesig, who started her Ohio State career 23 years ago while a Fashion Merchandising student. To help cover student expenses, Kesig worked weekends from 4 p.m.–midnight as a patient liaison in the Emergency Department.
That student position turned into six years as a full-time employee in the ED and eventually a move to the gift shop, where she could fuse her Buckeye pride with her interest in retail.
Similar Buckeye roots are shared by staff members of the gift shop, located in the Rhodes Hall lobby, and its satellite in the University Hospital East lobby.
“Our sales staff is almost completely made up of Ohio State students, and several of our assistant managers are Ohio State graduates,” Kesig said.
The student sales positions offer an opportunity to learn and earn, experiences that provide important stepping stones to full-time employment. The gift shop has also offered work opportunities for students with disabilities, including clients of Ohio State’s Nisonger Center.
Shoppers find sales staff eager to assist with selections from diverse offerings: snacks; newspapers, magazines, books and cards; clothing for all ages (adorably cute baby items); gifts, toys, holiday decorations and seasonals; personal items; COTA and movie passes; and, of course, a huge assortment of Ohio State products.
“We can do room deliveries requested by patients or make up gift baskets to deliver to patients or staff,” Kesig said. Patients typically call in requests for food, reading materials or clothing. Outside orders for patients and staff often consist of gift items, balloons or flowers with wellness wishes or a celebratory card.
Football and basketball seasons attract the Ohio State fan base to the gift shop in search of sports-related game wear. Throughout the year, there’s a steady stream of shoppers looking for Medical Center clothing and accessories.
“Our staff is very proud to show their association with our Medical Center, so we sell a lot of clothing and items with the OSU Wexner Medical Center name and logo on them,” Kesig said.
Some gift shop sales help support special events and fundraising efforts. For example, the gift shop offers shirts and items related to transplant, heart and Pelotonia events. Tickets are sold for the Service Board’s annual Breakfast with Santa and Pelotonia raffles.
The gift shop also supports numerous Medical Center and Ohio State programs with donations: Buckeye Bargains (student scholarships), Caring for Our Own (holiday assistance for staff), Creative Living and Rehabilitation programs, nursing overseas trips and more.
While the gift shop supports the Medical Center community through these services, it also does exceedingly well as a retail store. Last year’s combined gross sales for the gift shops at University Hospital and UH East came in just below $4 million. That’s an 8 percent increase over the previous year and a 50 percent gain over 2005.
How does that compare with most retail? Kesig explains it this way: A typical retail outlet makes $500-$1,000 profit per square foot, with hospital stores averaging slightly less. Vera Bradley brings in $1,100 per square foot, while Coach stores average about $1,800 per square foot.
University Hospital Gift Shop topped $1,700 per square foot last year.
That profit serves gift shop customers as well, supporting Medical Center improvements that add an extra measure of comfort and convenience for patients, visitors and staff.
For Kesig and staff, it’s all part of the Buckeye tradition. “We succeed because we have a great team,” Kesig said. “We pay attention to what the competition is doing and we listen to what our customers have to say.”
If you go…
The Scarlet Ribbon Gift Shop has two locations:
• Rhodes Hall lobby, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and weekends 10:30 a.m.- 7 p.m. (closed university holidays). Deliveries available. 293-8942.
• University Hospital East lobby, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Deliveries available. 257-2032.
Aug. 25-31 – Pre-season Sale with 30% off Ohio State merchandise
Nov. 20-30 – Beat Michigan Sale with 30% off Ohio State merchandise (closed Nov. 28-29)
December – Progressive Sale with 20% off all merchandise (some exclusions apply) the first week of December, 25% off the second week, 30% off the third week.
Ongoing – 20% off Ohio State merchandise with Wexner Medical Center ID