Buckeye buys

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It's like seeing a gift shop through Ohio-shaped goggles.

The Statehouse's Museum Shop has all the gift-shop staples, but with an Ohio twist. Ohio shapes and state flag designs cover Christmas cards, lampshades, golf balls and magnets. Red, white and blue is everywhere.

Little gifts like pins, candles and candy buckeyes and paperweights are top sellers, said manager Becky Wildman.

"All of our food is Ohio. All of our one-of-a-kind stuff is Ohio," said Wildman, who buys for the store. "When it gets to the kids' stuff and the souvenirs, we try to buy from Ohio companies, but there are imports."

Ohio-made gifts and crafts fill a front corner, like bright, bold glass sculptures and jewelry made from strung-together red and white beans.

More than a dozen Ohio-grown and -bottled wines fill shelves toward the back of the store, and fountain and rollerball pens from locally owned Bexley Pen are a recent addition to the Museum Shop. The food includes canned dips and preserves, candies and other snacks.

Bookshelves in the back corner cover almost every Ohio historical and political subject imaginable.

Partisan gift picks, like ties and mugs, abound. Just weeks before the election, the store was completely sold out of donkey masks that make the animal noise when you push a button, although elephants remained.

One thing you won't find? OSU stuff.

"Everybody else has that, so we don't need to worry about it," Wildman said.

Quality and uniqueness are two requirements of the shop's offerings, Wildman said. She also keeps her customers in mind.

State employees who work on Capitol Square often stop in for cards or gifts, so Wildman keeps them in mind with a variety of greeting cards. And for the students who come in for a tour of the Statehouse, the kids' corner is stocked with all manner of toys and games.

They're also amused by the giant map of Ohio on the floor outside, with different stones covering each of the counties. The sounds of laughter and shuffling little feet provide a soundtrack for the shop.

It's like seeing a gift shop through Ohio-shaped goggles.

Ohio Statehouse

Museum Shop