FISH volunteers to open gift shop at Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

August 30, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Future visitors to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery will be able to take a piece, or at least a souvenir, of the hatchery home with them.

“A gift shop has been a dream of a lot of people for a long time,” said Jane Kuechle, executive director of the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

As many know, FISH operates various programs at the state-owned hatchery. It also will operate what will be the facility’s first gift shop and the nonprofit group has set a tentative opening day of Sept. 10, Kuechle said.

Right now, she added, organizers are in the midst of ordering merchandise for the shop. That merchandise includes T-shirts, posters, pins and various books. The last will be for adults and children, Kuechle said.

At least initially, the gift shop will only be open on weekends. Staff will consist of FISH volunteers.

For those familiar with the hatchery, Kuechle said the shop will sit at the far end of the main building, near the Steve Bell Theater. The shop will operate through Nov. 20, the last weekend before Thanksgiving. At that point, FISH leaders will review the profitability and popularity of the shop before deciding what the next step is, Kuechle said.

“It won’t be a big store,” she continued, but added the shop hopefully will help fill what seems to be at least a small void for hatchery visitors.

As they conduct tours and teach classes at the hatchery, FISH docents often are asked where the gift shop or souvenir stand is located, Kuechle said. Those questions obviously helped motivate the FISH board to move forward with plans for the gift shop. While Kuechle again said the shop has been talked about for a long time, officials decided to act now because they were able to come up with what they believe is a legitimate business plan for the undertaking.

“There is some thinking behind this, it’s not just a pipe dream,” Kuechle said.

FISH leaders also have come up with a few ways to hopefully strengthen the group and the hatchery, she added. Basically, the FISH board has formed several new committees to study various aspects of the group’s operation.

For example, a business committee will study ways to gain financial support for FISH and the hatchery. The facility has been hit with cutbacks the same as many state operations, Kuechle noted. The gift shop could prove to be one way of raising some needed funds.

Other committees will study the hatchery’s education offerings, while another will look at how FISH operates along with the group’s by-laws. An advocacy committee will lobby for and promote both FISH and the hatchery. Current FISH board members will serve on the various committees, but Kuechle said the group also will be reaching out to its rank and file membership.

“These are people who are really committed to salmon and the hatchery,” Kuechle said.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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