In October of 1997, the Beanie Baby craze began and the Kirby Auxiliary
Gift Shop profits sky rocketed!
The Story Behind the Success
Bev Heitman, who ran the gift shop at the time, took a trip to Florida
and noticed how much people seemed to love Beanies. When she returned,
she made some phone calls to see if the gift shop could sell them too.
"I had to fill out two applications and send pictures of the gift
shop." It took her eight months to receive them!
Until the gift shop started selling Beanie Babies, it was the best kept
secret in town. Most people did not even know there was a gift shop in
“People would follow the UPS truck here when they see it in town!
We have had to have as many as six Auxiliary volunteers in the gift shop
at once to help handle the success of the Beanie Baby craze.”
The gift shop also offered other items such as bracelets, posters, houses,
and beanie baby membership kits. Before the Beanie Babies were offered,
the gift shop was lucky to bring in $4,000 a year.
The gift shop was one of the two Beanie Baby dealer in Monticello. This
craze brought in $30,000 in extra profit; usually around $4,000 a year
and every penny was donated to Kirby Hospital. Along with other fundraisers,
the Kirby Auxiliary was able to purchase gurneys, mammogram machines,
monitoring machines, and a lot of other equiptment.
More people started to join the Auxiliary after the beanies became available.
With people coming in to buy the beanies, profits from other items went
up as well. "It just increased the sale of everything," Heitman said.