Behind the Scenes at Avera McKennan: Retail Therapy

Her name badge says a lot: Jennifer Grossman. Director, Retail/Volunteer.

While retail and volunteers may appear as disconnected departments for one person to manage, they are related. Both carry on the mission of Avera McKennan by serving its patients, employees and families.

Retail Therapy

For most people, a trip to a hospital isn’t a joyous occasion.

That’s why Grossman believes the gift shop provides a “happy place” for both visitors and employees. While it is a business, they do more than just sell jewelry, cards and stuffed animals. The gift shop workers serve in a non-direct patient care capacity.

Grossman recalls a woman coming into the gift shop who was the daughter of a patient who had just been given an unfortunate diagnosis. The woman spent almost an hour in the store, crying with an employee who comforted her.

“Those are things you don’t see in retail outside of health care,” Grossman said.

Grossman oversees three stores on campus, the General Store (which she describes as similar to Grand Central Station with the hustle and bustle of employees passing through), the Gift & Floral Store and the Care Store in the Prairie Center.

Grossman and The Stores at Avera are a part of Project Search, which invites a young person with intellectual and physical disabilities to work in the retail department, with the end-goal of a student gaining employment after graduation from the program.

A Volunteer Mission

While her name badge says that she’s a leader in the organization, she says she is the one who benefits from working with her volunteers, who represent a broad array of fields. She’s also learned from her fellow Avera McKennan colleagues.

“I have grown tremendously here surrounded by the other leaders in this organization,” Grossman said.

The Volunteer Department mirrors Human Resources in the functions it performs, according to Grossman. Volunteers have to apply, go through an interview and background check process and are then placed in a department. Once placed, they are managed by the volunteer liaison in each department.

Fast Facts

  • There are 1,200 volunteers in 145 departments at Avera McKennan.
  • Joyce Questad is Avera’s longest current volunteer serving more than 28 years and putting in more than 34,000 hours.
  • The General Store has an average of more than 600 transactions per day.
  • Diet Mountain Dew is the most popular soda in The General Store with around 9,796 sold per year. Diet Coke and regular Mountain Dew are second and third with 6,782 and 6,330 respectively.
  • The most popular candy in The General Store is Hot Tamales.


By Kristina Johnson

Marketing Intern at Avera McKennan

, , ,