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The Last Temptation Of A Souvenir

If a tourist attraction succeeds, thrives, and endures long enough, it accumulates a storeroom full of old brochures and souvenirs. While many owners toss yesteryear’s marketing into the trash and merchandise into the 25 cent bins, some hold onto their creations. They open a “museum” about the attraction’s past, to put tourists in the proper respectful frame of mind. “This isn’t just a hole in the ground (or a pond full of ladies in fish tails) — it’s history!”

Father Dobberstein mug.One such venerable stop is the Roman Catholic Grotto of the Redemption, which has been around for nearly a hundred years. A tour of its museum prompts the usual feelings of Agony and Ecstasy from us. Ecstasy because the attraction allows visitors to see the great brochures and souvenirs that once existed. Agony because they don’t sell them any more!

Take, for example, this wonderful grinning Father Dobber-Stein, modeled on the Grotto’s creator, Father Paul Dobberstein. We can’t recall if it really was a souvenir, or if it was just some presentation tribute that was awarded to the worthy — you haul a hundred tons of rock for the Grotto, you get a mug. Even if that was its original purpose, however, there’s no excuse for it not to be available as a souvenir; to exist only in a glass case, taunting visitors.

How much income are attractions throwing away by not keeping their greatest keepsakes in stock?

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