by – Joshua Robinson
Check out the Capitol Store, a retail outlet in the statehouse operated by the Kansas Historical Society.
The Capitol store opened in January 2014 with a mission to showcase Kansas’ history, artists and industries. Ninety-five percent of the store is sourced from vendors throughout the state, who provide items such as crafts, books, clothing, collectibles, home and office supplies and jewelry.
Retail coordinator Marla Holt has the task of finding Kansans throughout the state who would like sell their products in the store.
“I am trying to set up something that is little bit sophisticated but also reminds you of what the state stands for,” Holt said. “I am looking for something that will impress people out of state so they can see all the things that (we) do and what all the people in the state are capable of.”
The most popular item at the Capitol Store is the Historical Copper Series, which includes jewelry, sculptures and decorative pieces made by different artist in Kansas. The copper came from the roof of the Capitol after the most renovations. The copper series is considered the best seller of the store, with people traveling to the Capitol to purchase items.
The Capitol Store is also a convenient place for legislators when they’re looking for a gift from Kansas. Holt enjoys it when the legislators compliment the store, some even recommending vendors from the district they represent. The Capitol Store does its best to carry items the legislators can be proud of.
“We also try to stock gifts for the legislators to give to their constituents and people who are visiting them or (people) who they go to visit, to give them mementos of Kansas,” Holt said. “We try to source everything in Kansas as much as we can.”
Because the store’s main source of products are items provided by people from Kansas, it can be hard to reach everyone in all of the corners of the state, said Holt.
“It is definitely easier to source from the east side of the state because that is where I am located and from,” she said. “Finding people from the further parts of the state is a little more difficult. It is one of my challenges I am working on, but the Internet makes it a lot easier to find those people,” Holt said.
Holt hopes to find a balance in merchandise that appeals to all people who come to the Capitol to visit.
The Capitol Store is not only an attraction for statehouse visitors, but it also benefits in other ways.
“The mission of the store, outside the retail, is to help keep the tours free at the Capitol. So, all of the money that we make from the store goes to support the tours and education at the Capitol,” Holt said.
To learn more about the Capitol Store, visit the website: https://www.kshs.org/p/kansas-state-capitol-store/11741.
Or call 785-296-4537. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Edited by Maddy Mikinski