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Courthouse museum gift shop closes

Store was go-to place for books on local history, communities
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn has lost a piece of its history. Several hundred pieces, actually, with the closure Tuesday of the Placer County Museum Gift Shop & Visitors Center. In the three years it was open inside the Maple Street’s Placer County Courthouse, it was well-stocked with the latest in local historical books and publications, as well as souvenirs and craft items. It also served as a listening post for questions from visitors, attracted partly, perhaps, by the county’s $500,000 gold collection displayed in one corner. Michaelyn McKelvey, who had worked at the store since its start, said the shop would be missed. “Many people have expressed that it’s a great loss for the community,” McKelvey said. “It has been a source of books and visitor information. A lot of people are saddened to see it close.” The Placer County Museums Division will now use the 400-square-foot space for exhibits. The gift shop was operated by the Downtown Business Association as both a destination for visitors seeking local information as well as souvenirs and books. Teri Gibson, a member of the association’s gift shop committee, said that the initial intent was for the shop to be self-funded through sales. But costs for two paid employees and a downturn in the economy led to the decision not to keep it open. “Auburn needed a store like that,” Gibson said, adding that recent construction at the courthouse hurt foot traffic during the late summer and into the fall. The store carried a full line of books published by the Placer County Historical Society, as well as books from local communities, including Colfax, Newcastle and Rocklin. “If someone needed something from Auburn or Placer County, whether it was books, cards or gifts, we had it,” Gibson said. One possibility to continue the shop was to have a non-profit group like the county Law Enforcement Chaplaincy group take it over. But Gibson said the chaplaincy decided, in the end, against pursuing it. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at Auburnjournal.com.