Editor’s Note: This store changed its name to Navy Fleet Gift Shop and moved to a new location on Camp Shields in 2013. Click here to read the post on the new Navy Fleet Gift Shop!
CONTRIBUTED BY KAHO
Having military gift shops is a huge benefit you have living on Okinawa. In the past two years of our stay on Okinawa, I have been to all 5 military gift shops on the island. I am going to put a spot light on two of them: Navy Gift Shop and Kids’ Cottage even though I like all of them equally.
In Japan there is a saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
I would like to let the pictures talk to you, but before I do that, here are the history and the information I gathered from the store. I would love this place to be where the volunteers and customers to talk to each other as well. That’s the purpose of this blog!
The first Navy Gift Shop opened in Naha in 1959. Next year, Navy Gift Shop celebrates its 50th anniversary! The second Navy Gift Shop was opened in 1963 at White Beach. However, they had to be shut down in 1972 due to a conflict with the Status of Forces Agreement. Captain Donald Ahlstrand, commander of Command Fleet Activities Okinawa, said the tenacious group of wives managed to overcome this obstacle and the shops were soon reopened in late 70’s. Later, the main shop moved from Naha to a card table in the Red Cross lounge of the Navy Hospital.
About the Store
Navy Gift Shop has a variety of items from Shanghai, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Nepal. It feels that by visiting the store, you can have a virtual tour of those countries. They have items often found on catalogs such as Pottery Barn. There is a set of table and chairs at the Navy Gift Shop right now, which was only $650. At homedecoration.com, very similar items are sold with much higher prices. The table by itself costs $699 and each chair cots $125.
The profit made by all the gift shops goes to charity through AWWA (American Women’s Welfare Association). Also, part of the profit made by the Navy Gift Shop goes to undergraduate scholarship for dependents.
The Navy Gift Shop or Kid’s Cottage are not located in the high traffic area such as Marine and Air Force Gift Shops, which stand next to the Exchanges. Therefore, store volunteers emphasize customer service to compromise the disadvantage. They also have a large number of vendors and try to always have new and unique items to attract customers.
Every month 200 hours of work at the store is managed by volunteers. There are about 20 volunteers who come to help on regular basis. The Navy Gift Shop’s clerks are the members of NOSCO, Navy Officers Spouse Club in Okinawa. The perks of volunteering at the gift shop is if you work enough hours, you’ll get to go on a buy trip to the East Asian countries and decorate the store! (I would’ve loved to do that!)
Click here for Navy Fleet Gift Shop and Kids Cottage Website to obtain information about volunteer opportunities, location and hours.
NAVY GIFT SHOP