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Controversial 9/11 memorial gift shop opens this week

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Families of some 9/11 victims are upset that a gift shop is included in the new memorial museum.

The gift shop will open to the public Wednesday at the National September 11 Memorial Museum. It will sell books about the attack and the building of the memorial, FDNY clothing and search and rescue stuffed animals.

The president of the museum defends the gift shop, saying it’s in a respectful space and will help offset costs of operating the memorial.

“To provide an opportunity to buy a keepsake and have those proceeds support this open and free memorial is something I would do seven days a week,” Joe Daniels said.

The outdoor part of the memorial is free, but the indoor museum has a $24 admission fee for adults.

“I think it’s a revenue-generating tourist attraction,” said Jim Riches, whose son died in the attacks. “Basically, they’re making money off of my son’s dead body. I think that’s disgusting.”

Museum officials say it will cost about $65 million yearly to operate the museum, and that revenue from admissions and gift shop sales will make sure it is maintained.

But not all families are opposed to the gift shop. Lee Ielpi lost his son in the attack and is on the museum’s board of directors.

“We have an obligation to society … 20 years from now, we need to make sure the people that step foot on this plaza know where they’re stepping and when they go into the entrance and go into the museum, they need to know what they’re going to see there,” Ielpi said.