On May 28, there was an article in the Dispatch about possible changes for the Senior Center. The article indicated that these changes could hinder operations of the longtime gift shop or close it all together.
This is not just a possibility, it is indeed a fact that the Gift Shop is permanently closed. I, the president of the gift shop along with the shop’s treasurer, were told by the recreation manager and the city administrator that we were not utilizing our space in the center to its full capacity. They want to free it up for possible classes and staff meetings. We were given 30 days to remove the remainder of our supplies out of the shop because the decision had already been made to eliminate the Gift Shop.
It was reported that staff is not advocating for a closure of the gift shop but rather an accommodation that would allow the room to be used at other times for meetings or classes when the shop is not open. This was briefly discussed at the meeting and then dismissed.
Rachelle Bedell, the City of Gilroy spokesperson, also was quoted saying there was an option to move the gift shop to another space within the existing building. There was never any mention of this at either of the meetings we attended with Jimmy Forbis and Adam Henig.
The shop is small in size but the benefit to the seniors was immense. All of our customers enjoyed coming in to do some shopping or just look around at all the new things we had made. It was a very social time for all of us. The ladies who ran the shop and made things to sell also benefited greatly by keeping busy and supplementing their income. The space is perfectly built for a gift shop and was used for that purpose for more than 43 years with its shelving units, bay window to display our work, and a long counter for us to stand behind to run the cash register.
We feel like we seniors are not getting the respect and opportunities that we deeply need. The center put a halt to the men’s card playing a while back and also the Bingo that so many enjoyed. Now the gift shop is being taken away.
According to Bedell, the Senior Advisory Board and Parks and Recreation Commission are expected to go through the process and recommendations over the next couple of months before consideration is brought before the city council. So how is it we were asked to pack up and leave before the City Council approved the decision to eliminate our gift shop?
Beverly Kirk is the president of the Gilroy Senior Center Gift Shop.