Shop for a good cause this holiday season

Volunteers at one of AAMC's gift shops

Holiday shopping season is upon us!

But if the mall is too crowded for you this time of year, or you want something more unique than what you might find on Amazon, you might consider shopping local instead.

At Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC), there are several options for you to do just that, while knowing your money is directly benefiting the hospital.

“It’s retail therapy that gives back to the community,” said Catherine Pels, supervisor of AAMC’s gift shops.

The gift shops, in addition to the Out of the Box consignment shop, raise about $300,000 annually for AAMC.

They are also staffed entirely by the dedicated volunteers of the AAMC Auxiliary. The gift shops have around 50 volunteers, while Out of the Box has 53.

The consignment shop, located on Bestgate Road in Annapolis, has grown so much in the past few years that store manager Jeanne Kayser says she could use about 20 more volunteers.

“If we had more volunteers, we could extend (the hours) that we can do consignments,” Jeanne says.

Here’s how you can shop for a good cause this holiday season.

AAMC gift shops

The hospital has two gift shops geared toward the public – the Beacon Boutique gift shop on the first floor of Hospital Pavilion North and the Bayside Beacon gift shop on the second floor of the Belcher Pavilion.

Beacon Boutique is a more traditional hospital gift shop, with items for patients as well as seasonal merchandise.

Bayside Beacon, a 6,500 square foot space stocked with clothes, jewelry, handbags and other lifestyle accessories, has morphed into a shopping destination for more than just patients.  

“This is more of a boutique shopping experience,” Catherine says. “It’s definitely a fun part of the Belcher Pavilion.”  

Typically, customers discover the shop while they are at the hospital getting treatment, then return later on. Employees, who receive a 10 percent discount, are also regular customers.

Some popular brands the store carries include Barefoot Dreams, Scout, Spartina and S’Well. Lifeguard Press items, including licensed housewares, stationary and other accessories by Lilly Pulitzer and Kate Spade, are also top sellers. The store also carries work from local artists, including Liz Lind, Becky McVan, Kim Hovell and Joanie Nixon.   

Of course, holiday-themed merchandise is also sprinkled throughout the store. On Dec. 19, the store will hold its annual holiday madness sale, which is always a hit with AAMC staff, Catherine says.

“People will be lined up at the door,” she says.

The Bayside Beacon gift shop is open from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. The Beacon Boutique gift shop is open from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 4 pm Friday and 11 am to 3 pm Saturday.  

Out of the Box    

By early November, Out of the Box was already brimming with holiday cheer.

A local woman had donated eight Christmas trees, plus ornaments, wreaths and ribbons, in memory of her daughter. Born on Christmas, her daughter passed away last summer.

“It’s definitely been therapeutic for her,” says Jeanne, adding the woman has spent hours decorating the trees for the store.

Jeanne Kayser, Out of the Box store manager

Jeanne Kayser is the manager of the Out of the Box consignment store.

Out of the Box, formerly known as The Clothes Box, has evolved since it moved from the hospital’s main campus to its much larger location on Bestgate. Before the move, around 70 percent of the items were donated and 30 percent were consignments.

Today, about 60 percent of the merchandise is consignment – and it’s much more upscale, Jeanne says.

The shift toward higher-end clothing and accessories happened after a volunteer donated some of her designer clothing.

“And we thought, maybe we could raise the level of the store with these clothes,” says Jeanne, who began as a volunteer before becoming a sales associate and later, the store’s manager.

Now, Out of the Box carries brands including St. John, Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman, Burberry, Cole Haan and more. The store only accepts items for sale that are in pristine condition.

Out of the Box also carries accessories including handbags and jewelry, plus a wide selection of furniture and housewares.

Consignors receive 40 percent of the proceeds from the sales of their items, while the rest goes back to AAMC.

Donations that aren’t appropriate for sale are sent to the Emergency Department, for patients who might need a change of clothes upon leaving the hospital, as well as local charities.

The store’s 12 Days of Christmas promotion begins Dec. 6 and features a new sale every day the store is open through Dec. 21. Customers will receive an email the night before each sale with all the details. To get on the store’s email list, stop by Out of the Box or call 443-775-5223.

“Our customers tell us they look forward to finding out the next day’s sale,” Jeanne says.

Out of the Box is open 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm Friday and 10 am to 2 pm Saturday. Volunteers accept consignments from 9:30 am until noon during the week. Donations are accepted any time during regular business hours.

Follow Out of the Box’s Facebook page for updates and news of upcoming sales.