In this special Inauguration Day post, learn about the history of the White House Gift Shop, and how Volusion is helping the White House Gift Shop help those in need.
Millions of people across the globe are tuned in to the President’s second inauguration today, all in an effort to be a part of history, as well as to see what good is to come over the next four years. In the spirit of this historic occasion, Volusion is proud to bring you the story of a nonprofit organization that embodies American patriotism, all while providing good to the community and country at large.
Since 1946, The White House Gift Shop has provided charitable assistance in the greater DC area and across America, including direct assistance to injured or ill uniformed division members and their spouses and children. It also provides employment of “Ten Point” military veterans with serious service-connected injuries and aid to Law Enforcement Community members with special needs such as HEROES.
A history lesson
In 1950, White House Police Officer Leslie Coffelt was killed, and two other officers injured, while defending President Truman during an assassination attempt. After this assassination attempt, the White House Security Fund was created to provide for the spouses and children of any White House Police Officer who was killed or seriously injured while performing their duties. Money was generated from donations made to the White House Police in the months following the assassination attempt and Officer Coffelt’s death.
In December 1955, the Benefit Fund was granted non-profit status by the Internal Revenue Service under Title 26, Section 501c, Paragraph 4.
In the early 1960’s, the White House Police Benefit Fund, along with the White House Security Fund and the White House Pistol Match Fund, were merged into what is now the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division Benefit Fund. All board members of the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division Benefit Fund are active Secret Service men and women who advise the organization while maintaining a full time job protecting the President and other prominent government officials and locations. All employees of The White House Gift Shop are military and intelligence veterans or their spouses, with service-connected injuries.
The White House Gift Shop
Over the years, the Benefit Fund has grown in scope of operation, providing more benefits than ever before by bringing in revenue through the White House Gift Shop. This shop is the original & only officially recognized White House gift shop, and has been helping others for 65 years through funds from the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division Benefit Fund.
For years, The White House Gift Shop operated in the basement of the Old Executive Office Building within the White House complex. For security reasons, this store was accessible “only” to White House staff and their guests. To meet demand from past White House staff, Secret Service members and everyday citizens, the Uniformed Division Benefit Fund created the online White House Gift Shop.
After the events of September 11, 2001, The White House Gift Shop moved its store to a brick and mortar outside the White House and stayed open until August 2012. At that point, they chose to move their entire operation (close the brick and mortar and move their existing ecommerce site) to a Volusion online store.
Taking a leap of faith with an online store
In addition to their brick and mortar store, The White House Gift Shop operated on a different ecommerce platform for over 14 years. After experiencing a lack of innovation and SEO growth, the board of directors chose to move the online store to Volusion’s platform, also deciding to close the doors of the brick and mortar shop.
Making such a drastic change was a huge leap of faith, especially since sales from the gift shop were the primary source of income for the fund that the entire organization was designed to supply.
Fortunately, the risk paid off, as choosing Volusion was the right decision for The White House Gift Shop.
Why Volusion was the right choice
Tony Giannini, Director, The White House Gift Shop, took the wheel and began to rebuild the online store with the help of Volusion’s design team. He found that the Volusion platform made his job much easier than before. With experience as a systems engineer at Harvard, Tony was familiar with online software services. He found Volusion has four main qualities that are key to helping him run the online business:
- Availability – Uptime is important for The White House Gift Shop and they count on Volusion’s 99.9% uptime guarantee.
- Reliability – Tony knows that the Volusion software is reliable and that he can easily build his online store with a trusted solution.
- Integrity – Having been in the intelligence community for many years, Tony understands the importance of security. PCI certification was a must and Volusion has that covered.
- Efficiency – Building the store takes no time at all compared to The White House Gift Shop’s old solution. Tony is able to load products, edit them and get them listed on his site quickly and easily.
“Volusion is effective, efficient, and reliable with support staff and e-commerce technology second to none,” said Tony Giannini, Director of The White House Gift Shop.
Since taking that leap of faith, The White House Gift Shop has seen a tremendous growth in sales each month. It has doubled its revenue, and almost immediately its organic presence tripled as compared to the old online store. Volusion helped them to have a greater presence online than they had ever seen before.
Some of the features that have made a difference in the way The White House Gift Shop runs its online business include:
- Volusion’s Deal of the Day and Featured Product features allow Tony to quickly and easily highlight certain products on the homepage of their online store.
- Product photos capabilities give Tony the flexibility to upload multiple photos and show many aspects of the White House-approved products.
- CRM system and Newsletter functionalities are extremely important to the organization’s mission.
- The ability to create private pages, products and categories is going to become even more important as The White House Gift Shop builds out different sections for unique customers.
Recently, The White House Gift Shop was able to bring Volusion’s SEO team on board, who was quickly able to identify many areas of opportunity and growth for the online store. It will be exciting to see what happens after the Volusion SEO team brings even more eyeballs to the site.
Thank you to Tony and The White House Gift Shop for sharing their story and choosing Volusion to propel them forward as they earn more to do more good.