Infamous 9/11 Gift Shop Thrives

New York

New York

Veronica Galek, Reporter

Any recent visitor to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City has seen the new gift shop, opened on May 20, 2014. Upon opening, there was much controversy, including claims from families of victims that it was “disrespectful’ and ‘commemorating tragedy.” But because the 9/11 Memorial is not funded by the government, it relies on museum ticket sales and gift shop sales to keep its doors open.

Kurt Horning, whose son Matthew died in the Twin Towers, says to Washington Post, “It’s crass commercialism on a literally sacred site. It’s a burial ground. We don’t think there should be those things offered on that spot.” A week before the new museum was opened, families of the victims were welcomed in to get a preview, and the gift shop was open as well. “They’re down there selling bracelets; making money off my dead son,” says Jim Riches, whose son Jimmy, a firefighter, died on that day in 2001. The New York Post published a story about the gift shop in late May, calling it ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’

On the other hand, the senior vice president of communications and digital media of the 9/11 museum continues to stand by the statement he made in May, that everything in the gift shop is “carefully selected.” On the museum store website, they offer apparel ranging from hoodies to hats that simply read, ‘9/11 Memorial’ on the front. They also sell books to inform, and jewelry to show support for the victims in a unique way.

The memorial’s president Joe Daniels had to introduce higher prices of admission to the museum – twenty four dollars. According to the statement he gave, “the board had no choice but to charge a steep fee.” The statistics are that it costs $63 million annually to keep everything up and running, including $10 million in security costs for a site that has been ‘attacked twice.’ Bill Doyle, whose son died in the Towers, shares his disbelief with the Daily News, saying, “I can’t believe they would charge anyone,” and backing up his statement by including that the entrance to the Pearl Harbor museum is free.

In the memorial’s defense, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg says that ‘because it was a national event, the federal government should be paying for it.’ Entrance to the memorial is free, getting to see the two pools that commemorate the empty spots where the towers once stood is totally open to the public. However, entrance to the museum which tells the story of many individuals and has artifacts from that fateful day costs twenty four dollars. Families of the victims, seniors, and student tickets are sold at a reduced price.

Despite all the continuing controversy, if the people want the museum and memorial to stay open, the gift shop must also stay. They rely on donations and sales, which is an issue in itself, because a memorial of this size and popularity should be paid for by the federal government. Merchandise found in the shop are supportive and positive, but if an individual finds the idea disrespectful then they can just simply choose not to shop there.