FRENCH CREEK – The gift shop at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center now offers Hershey’s hand-dipped ice cream and Simply Southern apparel.
Michael Shaw, owner of MTD concessions, took over the operations at the gift shop right after Memorial Day and has added several new items and kept a lot of the classic gift shop souvenirs.
“A lot of the toys are the same – the coonskin caps are a favorite of course,” Shaw said. “We just finally got back the Hershey’s hand-dipped ice cream. We’ve had a lot of requests for it, and it’s been very popular.”
He said they have also continued to stock old-fashioned candies, local honey, maple syrup and Wildlife Center-themed apparel provided by Top Line Apparel.
“We live in Selbyville, which is 15 or 20 minutes away, so it’s hard to find a job that’s this close to home for us,” Shaw said. “We’ve always wanted to run our own business, and the timing was perfect for this. It was unfortunate with the owner passing away. However, the timing worked out, and we were able to come up with some inventory. It was limited at first, and it went very fast at first because the place was swamped, but we were able to finally start to get in a groove of keeping stuff on the shelf.”
The gift shop is open in tandem with the Wildlife Center, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
“The open season is April through October,” Shaw said. “We have the option of keeping the gift shop open year-round and we are going to try that. It’s never been done before, so we’re going to try to stay open in the off-season, Monday through Friday, breakfast through lunch, and we’re going to serve breakfast and lunch specials.”
He said they are going to slowly expand on their menu from the normal snack bar fare — such as nachos and cheese, hot dogs and more — to include different breakfast and lunch specials for anyone during the off-season.
“It’s been amazing, and it’s surpassed my expectations by far,” Shaw said. “Our first month open we passed the sales record that was in place since 1998 – we surpassed that sales record the first month we opened.”
Shaw said two of his favorite additions to the shop are the Simply Southern Apparel and metal signs made by Weldfab. Shaw said they are able to take credit and debit cards in addition to cash.
Visit the West Virginia Wildlife Center online here.