The Leavenworth/Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce and the CGSC Foundation conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony at Fort Leavenworth’s Frontier Army Museum on Dec. 8, 2021, signifying the CGSC Foundation’s opening of operations of the museum’s gift shop.
Brandon Johannes, president/CEO of the Leavenworth/Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce, led the ceremony along with the CGSC Foundation President/CEO Roderick M. Cox, Frontier Army Museum Curator Russell Ronspies and the Foundation’s Director of Operations Lora Morgan.
The CGSC Foundation actually began operating the gift shop Sept. 1, 2021. The Fort Leavenworth Historical Society previously managed the gift shop for several decades, but in 2021 made the business decision to cease operations.
“The Fort Leavenworth Historical Society and the museum leadership approached the Foundation to see if we might have interest in operating the museum’s gift shop,” said Cox. “After looking into the issues involved we felt it would be a great way to serve the community. We already operate a gift shop in the Lewis and Clark Center, so we have experience with the business.”
Cox said after the historical society closed their operations the Foundation purchased their remaining merchandise and has since been hard at work establishing processes, installing new computers and software, hiring staff and volunteers, and adding new items to the inventory.
“A gift shop is part of the whole museum experience,” said Ronspies, the Frontier Army Museum Curator. “We have always had a gift shop here and when I heard the Fort Leavenworth Historical Society was going to stop operating the store, I knew we had to have someone willing and able to operate a new one. When people visit a museum they expect to go to the gift store. I know that when I visit a museum, I expect to stop in the store after my visit and purchase something that is a memory of that visit. I look forward to creating a whole new experience with the CGSC Foundation and hopefully one that will last many years.”
“I believe one of the most important parts of a great museum is a great gift shop,” Cox said. “We want to be able to provide this service to our community. There are lease agreements and other government requirements we’re still working through, but we believe it’s worth the effort for the museum’s visitors to have a gift shop worthy of the museum it supports.”
Ronspies added that the Foundation’s operation of the gift shop brings the museum new opportunities. He said the Foundation’s audience potentially brings in ties to a larger audience than the museum previously had and will also help solidify the museum’s relationship with the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
“Since the Foundation has taken over operations, I have heard lots of positives from our visitors and we are starting to see more return visitors which is always good,” Ronspies said. “A new shop layout and new inventory offer a variety to the visitors.”
Cox added that a portion of all sales is donated back to the Frontier Army Museum for their operations. Any remaining funds after operational expenses will be used for the Foundation’s many programs that support the Command and General Staff College. He said the museum gift shop has been the preferred place for local military and civilian organizations to purchase unique gifts for hails and farewells, retirements, and birthday and holiday gifts, and the Foundation intends to make it even better.
“I’ve known Frontier Army Museum Curator Russell Ronspies for several years,” Cox said. “We share the mutual goal of maintaining and improving the museum as a great place for Soldiers, families and the public to come and learn about Fort Leavenworth’s place in the nation’s history. Our operation of the gift shop will be focused on that idea.”
The Frontier Army Museum and the Museum Gift Shop hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Persons interested in visiting the museum who do not possess a DoD-issued ID card or other approved gate pass should allow extra time to check-in at the Fort Leavenworth visitor center. See https://home.army.mil/leavenworth/index.php/my-fort/all-services/gate-information.
Some items from the museum gift shop are now available in the CGSC Foundation’s online gift shop at giftshop.cgscfoundation.org.