Meet the Staff: Jessica DeRuosi
From answering phone inquiries to photographing new acquisitions, the staff at the VHS have a wide range of talents that help make our collections accessible to the world. Who are the talented men and women of the VHS? In a series of “Meet the Staff” blog posts, we will introduce you to the people who work behind the scenes to collect, preserve, and interpret Virginia history.
What is your job title?
Senior Retail Officer
When did you begin working at the VHS?
I began working at the VHS in December 2011 in our Pusey Museum Shop.
What are your job duties?
My current job duties include:
- purchasing products for the VHS Pusey Museum Shop
- searching for new Virginia-themed products to sell in the shop
- managing the shop website and our point of sale system
- managing and coordinating book signings after lectures
- helping track daily attendance to the VHS
- conducting inventory
- managing the VHS Annual Book Sale
- managing the shop budget, such as purchasing bags, fixtures, etc.
- helping manage the daily schedule of the Visitor Services staff that work at the two desks
- creating merchandise displays in the shop
- general customer service duties, such as answering telephones and orienting visitors to the museum
How did you become interested in history?
I’ve always been interested in history; it was my favorite subject in school. I attended the College of William and Mary where I earned a degree in anthropology and focused my studies in archaeology. I also have a minor in history and classical studies. I combined my love for archaeology and classical studies by studying Greek archaeology and spending time in Athens.
As a child, I went on many trips to historic sites with my family. Colonial Williamsburg was one of my favorite places to visit. Before working at the VHS, I worked at the Valentine Museum in the education department and at the former Museum of the Confederacy, where I gave tours of the house and worked in its museum shop. Working at two local museums helped expand my love for local history.
What is the favorite part of your job?
The favorite part of my job is definitely helping visitors when they arrive at the society. I enjoy hearing their stories about why they are at the VHS or why they want to purchase a specific book or product. A lot of times, visitors will have a very personal reason as to why they want to buy an item. I also enjoy seeing new books when they arrive, buying merchandise, and creating displays that highlight many of the unique items that we sell in our shop.
What has been your most memorable moment at the VHS?
One of my most memorable moments at the VHS was the day that the shop was allowed to move into our new permanent home in the Helga K. Gottwald Gateway to History. I encourage you to visit the society and check out the new shop space; it is amazing!
What is your favorite item in your office? Why?
I think of the entire shop as my office, so I have a lot of favorite items . . . we sell some of my most favorite books.
What is your favorite collection piece at the VHS?
My favorite collection piece at the VHS would have to be the street car. It is great to see (and hear) peoples’ reactions when they see it in the museum. It really does bring history to life for our patrons who remember riding the street car system and for small children who get to see such a large item from the past.
What is your favorite historical period?
I have two favorite historical periods: early Virginia history, such as the founding of Jamestown, and classical Greek history.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies all revolve around home renovation and gardening. I recently renovated my kitchen (and it looks amazing). I did most of the work myself, including tiling, painting, plumbing, floor renovation, etc.
I have a white German Shepard named Siri (yes, after Apple’s iOS Siri because she is white like my iPhone), goldfish, and a fish pond in my backyard.
And, of course I love to read!
If you did not work at the VHS, what would you be doing?
If I didn’t work at the VHS, I would love to have my own show on HGTV that would focus on remodeling historic homes.