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Kirstin's exciting job at the Helix gift shop

Kirstin is working hard to offer you a lovely selection of seasonal items at the Helix gift shop. She explains here what she does all year long !


I'm one of the Visitor Services Supervisors at the Helix and a large part of my job involves working on the range of retail items that we sell from the Visitor Centre and Callendar House.  While this is quite a big job, I really enjoy the creativity that it requires - as well as finding items to fit with the various themes and stories tied into the park and the wider area, I also need to think about a focal display points to make shopping at the Visitor Centre an interesting experience for our visitors.

There is a wealth of inspiration to draw on when looking at different stories to tell with the retail range.  The Helix park was developed in part to help improve the health and welfare of the local community and it provides a safe, clean and welcoming environment for cyclists, dog walkers, families, runners to name a few.   As we see a high number of cyclists through the summer months, this has led to the development of a retail range to appeal to cyclists of all levels.

The encouragement of nature is a large part of the Helix ethos and the Parks team spent time this summer planting wildflower meadows to provide areas for pollinating insects.  This tied in nicely with a supplier I met at a trade show who produces wildflower seeds, cleverly packaged to give the best chance of germination possible.   I like to think we have been responsible for a number of birds, bats and insects who now have a comfortable home due to visitors purchasing various animal huts and houses!

We're really keen to use local suppliers where possible, our chocolatier is based in Falkirk town centre, the fabulous fudge comes from Alloa and we sell a range of gorgeous gift items from an artist based in Bo'ness.  Social enterprise is also important to us and we are enthusiastic about working with smaller suppliers who are focused on ethical and sustainable production.

I have attended a number of trade shows to seek out new items to ensure the range is refreshed regularly and monitor trend changes to keep an eye on what is up and coming.  The trade shows are a good way to make first contact with suppliers - sometimes face to face is the best form of introduction.

Planning all this takes a lot of forethought;   I'm usually working at least 6 months into the future to make sure the next seasonal range is all set up for the changeover.  We're just about at Christmas 2016 and, dare I say it, I'm already thinking about Christmas 2017!!

There is a wide selection of items available at the Visitor Centre and Callendar House and I have only managed to mention a few of them in this short blog - please pop in, say hello and have a browse.

You can also warm yourself up with our selection of food offers including our soup & sandwich deal for £5, a hot drink & cake for £4, or fill up on macaroni cheese or a baked potato with your hot drink & cake for only £7.50.  It's a cold, dark winter - you deserve a treat!