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Cathedral gift shop survives by finding new market

Cathedral shop moves online in response to pandemic; crosses and crucifixes are a "big seller".

St Paul's Cathedral shop manager Susan Baker, who has set up an online gift shop to continue to serve customers while the Cathedral is closed.

By Stephen Cauchi

May 16 2020The coronavirus pandemic has forced the St Paul’s Cathedral gift shop to move online, but fortunately it has managed to tap into a new market to survive the loss of tourist custom.

Gift shop manager Susan Baker said she had been worried about how the shop could continue given nearly all of its business came from Cathedral visitors and tourists.

“At first I thought it would be very difficult because of the fact that we were a tourist-based physical shop,” she said.

But business turned around in late April after the online shop was launched. “I was surprised by the sales in Easter given we hadn’t done any promotion at that stage,” she said.

And sales in the first week of May have been “good … I’ve really been very pleased.”

Visits to the Cathedral’s website and Facebook page have soared since the pandemic lockdown as services are now streamed online, she said. Advertising on those sites has given the gift shop a new market.

The shop isn’t selling many Cathedral souvenirs as tourists are no longer visiting, so religious items like crosses and crucifixes are now the main seller.

“People actually have trouble getting them,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of church supply shops around.”

Ms Baker said silver jewellery, such as silver crosses on chains, was popular as it made a good gift.

Angels in various forms, including glass, ceramic and wooden angel ornaments and decorations, silver angel pendants and tea towels featuring angels, were another big seller.

“We sell a lot of angels in all sorts of different forms. These are very, very popular,” she said.

“So I think we’ll be selling a lot of angels and a lot of crosses.”

Visit the gift shop website at www.cathedralshopmelbourne.com