Gilbert Goodies Store over the past four years has been peddling T-shirts, mugs and hats stamped with the town’s iconic downtown water tower to raise money for those in need.
Last year, the online store sold $10,000 in souvenirs after accounting for the cost of the merchandise, shipping and transactions fees with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the town’s Neighbor 2 Neighbor program.
“The town already had the ability for residents to donate to assist those in need through their utility bills but we were looking for additional sources of revenue to support the Neighbor 2 Neighbor fund per Council direction,” said Jennifer Lauria, Community Resources supervisor.
“The Gilbert Goodies Store was created to establish a new revenue source that benefits the Neighbor 2 Neighbor fund with the intent to lessen the request of general fund dollars when allocating funds to nonprofit service providers.”
In the first fiscal year of operation in 2017-18, the store generated $1,800 and for fiscal year 2018-19, $10,000. Last fiscal year’s haul, also at $10,000, was not impacted by the pandemic, Lauria said.
The Neighbor 2 Neighbor program or N2N doles out money each year in a competitive process to nonprofits that serve families, children and the elderly in Gilbert.
Nonprofit recipients have included A New Leaf, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, About Care, Catholic Charities and AZCEND.
The online store currently offers 24 different items for sale, including an “I love Gilbert” tote bag for $10, a Centennial Christmas ornament for $12, dog bandanas featuring the water tower for $11 and a Gilbert coloring book for $10. A pair of socks with the water tower on it goes for $20 and a long sleeve State Forty-Eight shirt costs the most at $38.
Lauria said the top five selling items last fiscal year were the Centennial ornament, the Water Tower 3D ornament, the State Forty Eight sticker, the ceramic Water Towner coffee mug and the Centennial Mason jar.
“We try and keep a variety of products that will appeal to all shoppers,” Lauria said. “We add merchandise for the holidays as well as for special occasions.
“This holiday season we will be featuring a new Riparian Preserve ornament, Gilbert water tower salt-and-pepper shakers, as well as our popular water tower 3D ornament. We also recently launched the new State Forty Eight City T-shirt.”
Gilbert isn’t the first to hawk products to the public.
“Many municipalities have a city-run museum that sells merchandise and in our initial research we found New York City, the City of Tempe, which only sells Tempe logo items, and the City of Ottawa in Canada,” Lauria said.
The Big Apple’s CityStore is the “museum store” for the entire city and besides selling officially licensed NYC merchandise online, it has two storefronts.
Gilbert doesn’t have a physical building, however “we participate in pop-up events during the year such as attending the Gilbert Farmer’s Market and Gilbert’s special event activities.” Lauria said.
People can have their merchandise shipped or they can go pick up at the Fire Administration Building, 85 E. Civic Center Drive.
For residents who want to give back but aren’t interested in buying from the online store, a new option is available – eGift cards.
To access Gilbert Goodies Store, go to shop.gilbertaz.gov.
People who want to make a suggestion on merchandise for the store, can contact firstname.lastname@example.org