MORE THAN TRADITIONAL SOUVENIRS: Jessica Mulhall, manager of Mission to Seafarers Gladstone, models fiddle muffs. The same small business owner creates knitted blankets and striped beanies.
MORE THAN TRADITIONAL SOUVENIRS: Jessica Mulhall, manager of Mission to Seafarers Gladstone, models fiddle muffs. The same small business owner creates knitted blankets and striped beanies. Julia Bartrim

QUIRKY WINTER TREND: Gladstone's now stocking Fiddle Muffs

IT'S THE place to go when you need a fiddle muff.

If you're not sure what that is, you're not alone.

The fiddle muff is a knitted hand warmer which has various objects like buttons, ribbons or beads sewn onto it.

It's designed to relieve stress for aged care patients or dementia sufferers by providing a distraction, and it's growing in popularity.

Fiddle muffs were on display along with many other locally hand-crafted items at the Mission To Seafarers Gladstone facility, which officially launched its new souvenir co-op yesterday.

 

Illustrator Fiona Hitson has welcomed Mission to Seafarers Gladstone's decision to provide shelf space at its shop for micro-business owners.
Illustrator Fiona Hitson has welcomed Mission to Seafarers Gladstone's decision to provide shelf space at its shop for micro-business owners. Julia Bartrim

The Gladstone facility has contained a souvenir shop since 1993 but its relatively new manager Jessica Mulhall's had the idea to create the co-op.

The shop still has traditional souvenirs, but it's now providing display space for 16 micro-business owners to sell handmade and locally produced goods like jams, soaps, knitted blankets and artworks.

Previously the shop was reserved for the use of ship crew, transported by Mission to Seafarers from docked ships in the harbour, but now it's officially open to the public.

To create the co-op, Ms Mulhall said, had involved a massive refurbishment, much of it done by community members and volunteers.

"A lot of the benches hadn't been moved from where they were put 25 years ago, she said, "so the floor was quite interesting."

Six months ago we wouldn't recognise the place.

For the launch yesterday five micro-businesses with goods on display in the new shop set up market stalls on the Mission's front lawn.

Illustrator and designer Fiona Hitson had a table showcasing her delicate pen drawings.

She said the souvenir co-op was a new idea for her.

"It gets my product out there," she said.

" I do a lot of marketing through social media also and I have an Etsy online shop."

Ms Hitson said setting up the business had been challenging, particularly the social media side of it, but it was something she'd been thinking about for years.

Ms Mulhall hopes Mission To Seafarers can attract cruise ship passengers to the co-op.

"That's something we are working on at the moment," she said.

"We're hoping to branch out and we're looking at running stalls at the markets when the P&O Cruises comes to town."

Mission To Seafarers provides services to about 15,000 seafarers in the Port of Gladstone each year.

About 60,000 seafarers come into the port in the same time frame.

"The more volunteers we can get the more services we can offer," Ms Mulhall said.

"We are looking at servicing Bundaberg and Port Alma in the future."



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