Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | September 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


SEPTEMBER 15, 2021


October action plan

Buy

Be on the lookout for trendy items that will add zest to your holiday merchandise presentation. Act and react to what’s happening in the marketplace! Read, ask your vendors, and network all you can to discover last minute best sellers as you move closer to the holidays. There’s still time to buy hot items.

Begin buying Valentine’s Day merchandise. 💘

Order male-specific gifts for the holidays: pro/collegiate paraphernalia, barbecue tools, aprons, wall clocks, auto tag frames, travel mugs, flashlights, work lights, digital tire gauges, roadside emergency kits, aluminum wallets, golfers tools, pocket screwdrivers. It’s really hard to buy for men. Be the shop solves this challenge for your customers.

✂️ Mark Down

After Halloween, weed out “lemons” and put them on sale. You may make less profit, but there will be no profit if you’re stuck with them. Pack away remaining Halloween for next year.After Halloween, weed out “lemons” and put them on sale. You may make less profit, but there will be no profit if you’re stuck with them. Pack away remaining Halloween for next year.

🧸 Display

All Halloween merchandise should be on display in the shop by early October. Be sure to check your stock rooms to ensure all items have made it to the selling floor. 🎃

Display Thanksgiving merchandise. 🦃

Display calendars and date books in October in order to sell through before Christmas. This is prime time to sell calendars. 📆

October 16: National Boss’s Day. Create a display of desk accessories, candy and flowers. 🎯

Sweetest Day is always held the third Saturday in October. Set up a display with cards, gifts, candy, and flowers. Sweetest Day is a strong holiday in the northeast and central states. 🍬

📝 Plan

It’s time to begin developing your holiday buying and marketing plan. Plan your holiday displays for the next eight weeks. 

Meet with the flower vendor to ensure that the cooler will be well stocked with holiday plants and flowers throughout November and December.

Get sales, promotions and events ready to roll out.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Create a pink themed display with specialty items for breast cancer patients. Hold a fundraising event for the month and donated the funds to the hospital’s breast cancer charity. Include signage or flyers on breast cancer programs at your hospital. Merchandise includes:

  • Novelty socks with the pink ribbon motif. It’s a great item for any patient going through treatment or simply hospital staff wanting to call attention to cancer events
  • Hydration items such as water bottles are a great item for organized breast cancer walks and events
  • Caps and tee-shirts
  • Novelty jewelry
  • Anything “pink” can also be used in the display to make a statement.

Excerpt from A Twelve-Month Action Plan for Gift Shop Managers and Buyers

UPCOMING HOLIDAYS

October
Oct 10 – Handbag Day
Oct 11 – Columbus Day
Sep 15 – Yom Kippur
Oct 16 – Boss’s Day
Oct 16 – Sweetest Day
Oct 31 – Halloween
November
Nov 11 – Veterans Day
Nov 25 – Thanksgiving
Nov 26 – Black Friday
Nov 28 – Hanukkah Begins
Nov 29 – Cyber Monday
December
Dec 4 – National Sock Day
Dec 6 – Hanukkah Ends
Dec 25 – Christmas
Dec 31 – New Year’s Eve
JANUARY
Jan 1 – New Year’s Day
Jan 3 – Martin Luther King Day


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS


Trend report for Spring/Summer 2022

Atlanta Apparel’s in-house fashion office has released its semi-annual trend report, previewing the upcoming Spring/Summer 2022 colors, prints and styles retailers can expect to see while sourcing at the upcoming Atlanta Apparel, October 12-16, at AmericasMart Atlanta. “These trends reflect a year and a half of living through a pandemic. People’s priorities change and fashion evolves from what’s happening in our lives,” said Morgan Ramage, Atlanta Apparel Fashion Director. “Spring/Summer 2022 will showcase mood-boosting colors and styles as we transition from a period of uncertainty to cautious optimism.”

KEY COLORSMust-have apparelAccessories
Butter
Bubblegum Pink
Atlantic Blue
Preppy strong reds
Greens and brown to reflect outdoor lifestyle
Mango Sorbet to Golden Peach
Bubble-hem tops
Positive-message tees
Scalloped, lace, crochet blouses
Summer knit vest
Statement jewelry
Pendant and beaded necklaces
Chunky hoops
Nostalgic vanity-style bags, bucket bags, beaded bags
Soft-rectangle sunglasses, oversized retro sunglasses

SOURCE: AmericasMart Atlanta


SURVEY RESULTS: Do you have staff payroll deduction?

The results are overwhelming! Do you have staff payroll deduction? Seventy-six percent (76%) responded “Yes”.

The swipe of a badge is much easier than carrying around cash or a credit card, especially for hospital employees who are popping in while on break. Employees appreciate the convenience of buying without cash up front and interest-free! It’s all about removing barriers to sale and bringing value to your hospital employee’s lives by making the buying process quick and easy.

If you still don’t have payroll deduction learn how with the guide How To Implement An Employee Payroll Deduction System for Hospital Gift Shops

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


RESPONSES: What is your markups in this post-COVID market?

Q. Wondering what your markup is on items right now? We have been limited to mostly our hospital staff as shoppers and are noticing a decline in sales. Thank you! – Gina Richmond, Sunshine Gift Shop Unity Point Hospital, Dubuque, IA. 126 beds. 8/10/21.

Cost + shipping x 2 across the board, excluding candy that is not specialty. If purchasing a discounted item or receiving a discount, the regular price is factored in and then the price is doubled. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, The Gift Corner/Loose Ends, Billings. 289 beds. 9/10/21

I have been doing the same markup as I did pre-COVID (x2). There are some items that I am able to mark up more (x 2.4 or more) depending on if I purchased them on sale or if they are just an inexpensive wholesale item that is great quality that I can markup for. With the added surcharges and increased wholesale prices across the board I am leaning towards a x 2.3 markup in the near future. – Sarah Ryan, Rutland Regional Medical Center, Rutland, VT 9/7/21

Glad to hear that, Sarah. Be sure to include shipping charges into the retail. – Cindy, Cindy Jones Associates

We are a small critical access hospital in Northwest Wisconsin. Due to the population we serve, I cannot always do the 2.3% markup on items in our gift shop, The Corner Boutique. I try, but am always mindful of the price point, yet there are times I can price an item higher because of the purchase price (on sale) and quality. It truly is a game of chance! Thank you everyone for sharing. – Ann Bergmann, Cumberland Healthcare, Cumberland, WI. 25 beds. 8/30/21

The gift shop I manage is located in a rural area where almost 50% of our population is Amish (LaGrange, Indiana). I typically cannot get away with marking up more than x2 and sometimes it’s less than that depending on the wholesale cost. – Christina Blaskie, Parkview LaGrange Hospital, LaGrange, IN. 8/23/21

We are using the same calculation we did pre-COVID. Mark up of 50% then the cost of shipping and handling. – Nancy Collins, New London Hospital, New London, NH. 8/18/21

Cost x 2.5 to 2.6 on most items. Candy/snacks are around 35%. – Angela Quinn, UNC Lenoir Health Care, Kinston, NC. 8/17/21

Except for candy & flowers our current markup is minimum 2.5. – Kerri Clark, Community Hospital, Munster, IN. 8/17/21

I haven’t changed my pricing post-COVID. I have kept it the same. I will however up my pricing for Christmas only because I feel like Christmas decorations are going to sell fast and customers are not going to mind the prices going up a little because prices are up for everything. – Lauri Huffman, Indiana University Health. 8/17/21

Good thinking Lorrie. As a past department store buyer for May/Macy’s, I can say that asking yourself “What would my customer be willing to pay” is very important. Value, uniqueness, quality will guide you to price. But my feeling is that if it is not food or flowers, you should never, ever only double the price of your products. When you DO have to mark items down, take a very close look at the product you are marking down and honestly ask yourself, why didn’t it sell? Was it color or quality, size, or value or did it come in too late in the season or was it poorly displayed or maybe, it just wasn’t for your customer base? What can you learn from a “markdown”? Trust me, it will be a good learning tool for future buys when a vendor says, “Everyone is selling this”. – Anne Obarski, Merchandise Concepts, Mt. Pleasant, MI. 8/17/21

I usually stick to about a 2.4 markup. A little less if I got a free freight special and sometimes I go up a little more. – Juli Chrisman, WPR Cancer Institute, Little Rock, AR. 8/17/21

Ours is normally 2.5 but with the rise in shipping and surcharges we have recently been going up a little more if the product can validate the price. – Cheryl, Novant Health, Charlotte, NC, 637 beds. 8/17/21

We double the cost plus shipping. – Robin Truax, Gouverneur Hospital, Gouveneur, NY, 77 beds. 8/17/21

65-70%  – Margaret Legut, Elmhurst Hospital, Elmhurst, IL. 259 bed/ 9/16/21

FROM CINDY

Gina, markups should remain the same! Do not change your markups! Once COVID is gone and life and retailing get back to normal, you will want to go back to your usual markups and pricing standards, but then your customers will walk out saying ‘everything is overpriced in the gift shop’!

If you are not taking at least a keystone markup (50% above wholesale) plus shipping on most of your merchandise, it is unlikely that your shop is profitable. Hospital gift shops cannot make a profit on an initial 2x times mark on plus shipping. After mark downs, the gross margin is reduced even more. Profitability is based on many things but one of the most important is markup.

Instead, look for hidden opportunities to earn a little extra profit. Consider buying merchandise at closeout or negotiating discounts on your purchases. Some items will need to be marked down because they are slow sellers. However, discounting everything, such as a “20% off everything” sale, is not recommended. Keep in mind, a mark down is the most important tool a retailer has to move a mistake out the door. We all make buying mistakes. It happens with the best buyers! Buying a bad style, wrong colors, wrong sizes, wrong timing, too many, bad fit, etc. Just don’t fret, recognize mistakes early and mark down immediately!

STANDARD MARKUPS BY CATEGORY

GIFTS, TOYS, APPAREL, CARDS, PLUSH, BABY, ACCESSORIESCANDY, SUNDRIES
Double price + 6-10% for shipping 
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.5 or more
30-33% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.4 or more
**Higher for specialty candy
JEWELRYFLOWERS
60-70% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.4 or more
**Most jewelry comes pre-priced.
33-35% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.5 or more

THANK YOU READERS!

Wow! Thank you to all who contributed your comments here and in past newsletters. We are so fortunate to have such a great community of readers, collaborating every month towards a common goal.

Gift shop managers really are AMAZING people! Strong, resilient, driven, creative, ingenious and BETTER TOGETHER!


Men’s holiday gifts

From a buyer, “It’s really hard to find men’s gifts that sell! Customers will ask if we have any men’s gifts and when we ask what they are looking for, they really can’t tell me. This is an ongoing challenge! Guys just don’t like “stuff” as much as women do!” Here are two ideas to start with: pro or collegiate paraphernalia from Jenkins Enterprises and American Expedition. They carry items that are masculine and tasteful and are nicely packaged and easy to display! Mud Pie has a “Him” category with a nice selection.

A few more things that have had some success are barbecue tools, aprons, wall clocks, auto tag frames, travel mugs, flashlights, work lights, digital tire gauges, roadside emergency kits, aluminum wallets, golfers tools, ‘7 in 1’ pocket screwdrivers, and magnifying glasses. A top seller for men is Joey Series by Outback Flashlights. It has a super-strong magnet in the base which allows the user to see under the hood of a car.


Q. Do you use HospitalGiftShop for your online store?

Q. Our shops have struggled with our online presence, especially through the pandemic and for a variety of other reasons. We are considering outsourcing to HospitalGiftShop to provide online access to our customers. Does anyone have experience with them? Have you used hospitalgiftshop.com for your online store? What are the pros and cons? What have you heard about them? What are the costs? Thank you! – Judi S, Gift Shops/Espresso Cafes. 7/8/21

Have you used hospitalgiftshop.com for your online store? What are the pros and cons? What have you heard about them? What are the costs? Would you use them?

Are you – our would you – use hospitalgiftshops.com for an online store? What is your experience? Don’t just take; give back. Do your part and leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

Hospital Gift Shop is a Healthy Commerce company based in San Diego, California. We mention hospitalgiftshop.com in our recent article Creating and Online Store: Parts 1-4 as a way to outsource your entire online operation. But, there are pros and cons to doing so. We’d love to hear, first hand, from shops that are using their service!


5 ways to get a bigger share of the holiday sales pie

We’re down to the wire! You continue to fight the effects of COVID-19 on you, your business, your customers and your staff. You have closed your store, reopened, pivoted 27 times, and have figured out new ways to grow sales and to get product to your customers. You deserve a break! But not just yet. 

We have assembled five strategic actions you can take right now to help you get a bigger share of the holiday sales pie. Each of these five easy to implement ideas will help you entice customers to buy. 


five holiday sales tips
Front door “speed bumps”
Set the tone…. a lot!
Sell gift cards in-store & online
Sign the store like never before!
Daily team meetings

Begin at the front door 

You want your sales floor to scream “Holidays!” when shoppers enter. The perfect place to set the tone is at your “Speed Bumps”. These are the entry displays that give shoppers a taste of what they can expect when they shop your store. Try these for your speed bump displays: 

  • Pre-wrapped items
  • Cross-merchandised product that can be worn or used together
  • Items at the same price point
  • Gift suggestions by gender and age
  • Themed display of related items 

Remember to re-merchandise key parts of your sales floor, including the impulse items at the cashwrap, frequently. When the product remains stagnant – especially during the holidays – frequent shoppers think “I have seen this before” and keep on walking. So, move around new goods and things that have been with you for a while.

If you have to do pre-holiday markdowns do it while the sales floor continues to be busy with shoppers. The first markdown you take is the always the most important and the cheapest. 

Markdowns allow you to maximize your invested dollars. When you get those dollars back you can reinvest into newer items that will yield higher margins and better inventory turn. Packing product away for next year isn’t the answer because it never looks as fresh as it looked when it was initially received. Customers know. 

Set the tone 

Decorate the windows and the store for the holidays and put a Christmas spin on your dress code. And even if you hate holiday music, play it anyway because Christmas carols set the tone for the season. They also remind shoppers of the task at hand and puts them in gift-giving mode. 

Sell gift cards 

This is the precise time to focus on gift card sales. Statistics show that 75% spend more than the value of their card and 55% of gift card recipients require more than one shopping trip to the store to spend the balance of their card. This is great news! The more visits to your store the more likely they are to spend. Offer online gift cards as for those who like to shop from home or the last-minute shopper. 

🎯 TIP: Want to increase gift card sales? Include bonus cards for the shopper: “Buy $50 in gift cards and receive a $10 gift card for free”. Remember to make bonus cards valid after January 1 so they can’t be used to purchase holiday gifts. 

Sign the store like never before 

70% of purchase decisions are made in-store so signing helps shoppers make the decision to buy. Add signs to displays that read: New Arrivals, Gifts for Her, Gifts for Him, and add price points where applicable. Include product details to the signage like features, country or city of origin, the designer, materials, and the like. 

Meet daily with your team 

Make sure all associates are ready to provide excellent service. Meet with everyone for a couple of minutes in the morning. Share what’s new, changes on the sales floor, talk about what’s happening on social media, and what was sent to customers via email and direct mail. Talk up gift cards and gift ideas, do a Q&A – share whatever is important that particular day. 
Work just a little harder these months because your competitors will. We wish you a safe, wonderful, and prosperous holiday season. And remember, we are always here if we can help!

SOURCE: KIZER & BENDER’s Retail Adventures

How do you get ready for the holiday season? Do you have a tried-and-true cheatsheet? What are some imperative strategies you implement every year?

What are you doing to get ready for the holiday season? Do you use a checklist? Must-have strategies or tasks? Don’t just take; give back. Do your part and leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

RESPONSES: Is anyone selling vaccination card holders/protectors?

I just ran across vaccination card holder/protectors, and it made me wonder if anyone has tried them and how they sell for you? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT. 289 beds. 7/15/21

Yes, we currently offer a vaccination card holder. – Tana Taylor. 8/22/21

I’ve wondered the same; it seems as though no one is requiring the card to be seen for any purpose, so I’m not sure that consumers would see a reason to carry a holder. – Lauren. 8/20/21 

No, we are not, but what a great idea! Who is the vendor? – Nancy Collins, Volunteer Services Manager, London Hospital, New London, NH. 8/18/21

Hi Nancy, So sorry for the delay, I noticed them on Faire.com. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT. 289 beds. 7/15/21

We have been selling a clear inexpensive holder from Specialist ID. – Greg Holtgrewe, Baptist Health Paducah, Paducah, KY. 300 beds. 8/17/21


Social Media Tip: Create animated product videos like this!

Creating animated videos of your merchandise is easier than you might think, thanks to Canva. We’ve mentioned Canva in the recent four-part series on how to create an online ecommerce store.

Canva has a terrific set of intuitive, pre-formatted tools that you can use to make quick and easy content for social media posts….graphic design skills not required! Short looping videos like this one here are called GIFs.

Check back next month when we’ll show how to create a merchandise video like this one!

Canva.com

Click image to animate or view in browser.



SPONSOR

snoozies!® Sherpa Socks

  • Unique designs and colors
  • Fully lined cozy Sherpa socks
  • Keeps your feet warm on the coldest days and nights
  • Non-skid soles
  • Machine washable
  • Will not shrink

See all the snoozies!®Sherpa sock collections at snoozies.com

Call our in house specialist at 252-650-7000 ext 206


AUGUST 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #621
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • Rev up your holiday planning now
  • Top 10 display tips
  • SURVEY: Do you have employee payroll deduction?
  • Q. What is your current markup in this post-COVID market?
  • Promo: Summer Sizzler Father’s Day Raffle
  • Job Openings
  • Guelph General Hospital gift shop launches online store

  • Product Pick: LEGO flashlight keychains
  • Q. Is anyone selling vaccination card holders/protectors?
  • Marketing Tip: Motivate hospital employees to shop
  • Social Media Example: Dot Sale Promotion
  • RESPONSES: What are some good plant vendors?
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


CUSTOMER REWARD/LOYALTY PROGRAM

We are interested in starting a customer reward/loyalty program. Requesting any advice on a system that has worked well in your hospital gift shop. – Stephanie Byrom, SJRMC Gift Market, Farmington, NM 194 beds. 5/17/12

We have a punch card that I got through Vista Print. For every $5.00 spent they get a punch. It takes $100.00 to fill. Once full, they get 30% off 1 items. It works well and the employees love it. As we require a minimum of $5.00 purchase to use payroll deduct, this is another encouragement to spend at least that amount. – Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services, Springfield, MO. 6/22/21

We do punch cards for every 5$ spent they get a punch, after the card is full, 9 punches, they get 10% off one item with that card. – Ann Payne. 6/17/21

We currently have a customer loyalty program that was easy to implement through our POS (VEND). Customers are able to provide their contact information which automatically enrolls them in the loyalty program. This has been a great bonus for return customers (mainly staff) as we do not offer employee discounts. – Shellee Laubersheimer, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop, Stanford, CA. 2300 beds. 6/16/21

We currently utilize MM Hayes Quickcharge POS. They have a built in Loyalty system that has several options and customizations. – Shea Fowler, Unity Point. 6/16/21


ONLINE STORE

I am currently working on launching an online store. It has been several months in the making but this topic came up at the best time and has helped me so much with all the other shops providing information, tips and tricks. I will be look in to purchasing a photo box and using canva! I have saved all the previous articles to continually reference. Thank you to everyone for all the great information that has been provided. – Sarah, 7/30/21

Hi Sarah, we’re happy to hear that the article was helpful! Please let us know how the launch of your online store goes. On the interim, let us know what issues you run into…or questions. I’ll answer what I can and put it out for comment in the next issue. Good luck! – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

First of all, thank you for deep diving into this subject. I wanted to know if having a POS is imperative to having an online presence? Is there a work around? Currently we do not have a POS, but we would love to explore the online possibility. Thank you. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, 5/20/21

A POS is not required to have an online store. You can sell, process payment, and fulfill orders entirely through your eCommerce software. You’ll need to coordinate your in-store and online sales, plus financials, and inventory. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


PROMOTIONS



SPONSOR

BRAVEHOODS
More than just a hoodie…

These inspirational shirts make great gifts for anyone needing a smile. For each shirt sold, one is donated to a kiddo fighting cancer. Sizing: 6 mo – 4XL

As an incentive, we are happy to donate the amount purchased to your pediatric oncology department.

Featured in Gift Shop and Wired Magazines

www.bravehoods.org
shanna@bravehoods.org


SPONSOR

BOOGIE TOES – AWARD WINNING BABY RATTLE SOCKS

The cutest baby socks on the planet are perfect for 3 early stages of baby’s development.

– Adorable rattle socks with plush toys.
– Rattling sound stimulates hand-eye-ear coordination.
– Busy moms can keep a tab on adventuring crawlers.
– Eco-friendly anti-slip sole for early walkers and runners.
– More than 80 styles to choose from!

844-548-3684
office@pieroliventi.com

SPECIAL DISCOUNTS for Cindy’s Newsletter readers:
www.pieroliventi.com/cindy-gift-shops (Pswrd: cindy2021)

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | August 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


AUGUST 15, 2021


Rev up your holiday planning now

12 Month Action Plan for Hospital Gift Shops
Twelve-Month Action Plan for Hospital Gift Shops

It’s time to begin developing your holiday buying and marketing plan! Retailing is like gardening. You must plant the seeds in the fall for blooming sales during the holiday season. You need to plan for those sales; they don’t just happen by themselves.

  • Create announcements for exciting holiday merchandise, special sales, and promos right now, when you have time.
  • Outline your schedule for the announcements in hospital publications, social media, and website. Then, in the frenzy of the season, you just have to more-or-less execute it.
  • All summer merchandise goes on clearance NOW!
  • Integrate cross-merchandising into displays.
  • Begin displaying higher-priced holiday merchandise and Christmas collectibles.
  • Begin displaying Halloween merchandise NOW!
  • Order and display next year’s calendars and datebooks.
  • Mark down slow selling merchandise to acquire space for just-arriving items.
  • Request that all staff and volunteers indicate when they will be out of town during the holidays.  Ensure that their job responsibilities are covered while they are gone.

Check out Cindy’s Twelve-Month Action Plan for Gift Shop Managers and Buyers!

UPCOMING 2021 HOLIDAYS

September
Sep 6 – Labor Day
Sep 12 – Grandparents Day
Sep 22 – First Day of Fall
Sep 7 – Rosh Hashanah
October
Oct 10 – Handbag Day
Oct 11 – Columbus Day
Sep 15 – Yom Kippur
Oct 16 – Boss’s Day
Oct 16 – Sweetest Day
Oct 31 – Halloween
November
Nov 11 – Veterans Day
Nov 25 – Thanksgiving
Nov 26 – Black Friday
Nov 28 – Hanukkah Begins
Nov 29 – Cyber Monday
December
Dec 4 – National Sock Day
Dec 6 – Hanukkah Ends
Dec 25 – Christmas
Dec 31 – New Year’s Eve

Product Pick: LEGO flashlight keychains

Here’s a fun product for your gift shop from one of the world’s most beloved brands, LEGO! The fully posable, officially licensed LEGO minifigure flashlight keychains are for LEGO fans of all ages. Push a button on the character’s belly to activate bright LED lights in the feet. Batteries are included. The keychain lights shown here are available in eye-catching 16-count counter displays to make merchandising easy. These are great for hospital gift shops and can brighten the way for patients and medical professionals. They are available from Santoki, the exclusive US distributor of LEGO licensed LED lights. Contact Nikki at nikki@santoki.com to order.


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS


Top 10 display tips

by Michelle Sherrier / GiftShop Mag, Spring, 2021

I consider myself a creative curator. Spending the last 41 years in retail, I have learned a lot about merchandising and design. Between seven years at the iconic Fred Segal to another seven years at the mecca of retail, Anthropologie, I was able to hone my eye and business sense alike, and grow a deeper understanding of the intricacies of retail and the key role visual merchandising plays. Here are my “Top 10 Tips” that I learned along the way!

#1 WHEN IN DOUBT COLOR IT OUT

I know you know what I’m talking about…you just finished re-working your shelving unit and it looks chaotic…a lot of merchandise; some of it works together, a lot of it doesn’t. This is where this rule of thumb comes in handy. Try pulling together items by color. The color on label, maybe it’s the packaging or the product, you will see a common thread. Start pulling them together, little by little you will see it come to life. I often start with my groups and then start shopping the store for more that will create a more impactful statement.

#2 MERCHANDISE BY CONCEPT

The cohesiveness you see at Anthropologie is very deliberate. Merchandising by concept creates an impactful statement while telling a visual story. Our “Camp Concept” was a combination of books, Pendleton inspired games and campfire scented candles. Props to embellish your concept can be anything from tree slices as risers to an oversized marshmallow on a twig (they dry beautifully, by the way).

#3 BINNING

Bin “smalls” like lip balm, loose crystals, small books, and jewelry on cards in glass jars. A lot of vendors ship smalls in “displayable” case packs. I prefer to take them out of the packaging. By placing them in a glass jar, basket, or bowl you add value to the item and make them look so much more important and inviting.

#4 THE HARDWARE STORE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND

Take a walk through a hardware store. There are so many things that are cost effective that create amazing risers, backdrops and displays. We created multi-levels for a jewelry case out of 2×4’s that have been cut different sizes and sanded down. I liked them raw but a coat of paint or stain would give them a whole new life.

#5 DON’T TREAT YOUR WINDOW LIKE A GARAGE SALE

Pick a theme, color or category. A lot of people think “more is better” but in the case of windows, putting everything you sell into a small window isn’t better, it’s just busier. The other rule of thumb is, never leave a mannequin undressed or without hair in the window. This should go without saying but I see it all too often. No hair? No problem! Throw a scarf on her head for a chic look or a hat. Just don’t leave her bald.

Read the other five display tips — #6 Show Items as You Would Use It; #7 Get Inspired; #8 Cross Merchandising; #9 Risers, Think Outside the Box; and #10 Lifestyle Props — in GiftShop Mag.

Stanford University Gift Shop
Stanford Health Care Gift Shop

SOURCE: Gift Shop Mag, Spring 2021


SURVEY: Do you have employee payroll deduction?

Do you have employee payroll deduction?

Employee payroll deduction can account for up to 40-50% of shop sales. The swipe of a badge is much easier than carrying around cash or a credit card, especially for hospital employees who are popping in while on break. Employees appreciate the convenience of buying without cash up front and interest-free! It’s all about removing barriers to sale and bringing value to your hospital employee’s lives by making the buying process quick and easy.

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


Q. What is your current markup in the post-COVID market?

Q. Wondering what your markup is on items right now? We have been limited to mostly our hospital staff as shoppers and are noticing a decline in sales. Thank you! – Gina Richmond, Sunshine Gift Shop Unity Point Hospital, Dubuque, IA. 126 beds. 8/10/21.

FROM CINDY

Gina, markups should remain the same! Do not change your markups! Once COVID is gone and life and retailing get back to normal, you will want to go back to your usual markups and pricing standards, but then your customers will walk out saying ‘everything is overpriced in the gift shop’!

If you are not taking at least a keystone markup (50% above wholesale) plus shipping on most of your merchandise, it is unlikely that your shop is profitable. Hospital gift shops cannot make a profit on an initial 2x times mark on plus shipping. After mark downs, the gross margin is reduced even more. Profitability is based on many things but one of the most important is markup.

Instead, look for hidden opportunities to earn a little extra profit. Consider buying merchandise at closeout or negotiating discounts on your purchases. Some items will need to be marked down because they are slow sellers. However, discounting everything, such as a “20% off everything” sale, is not recommended. Keep in mind, a mark down is the most important tool a retailer has to move a mistake out the door. We all make buying mistakes. It happens with the best buyers! Buying a bad style, wrong colors, wrong sizes, wrong timing, too many, bad fit, etc. Just don’t fret, recognize mistakes early and mark down immediately!

STANDARD MARKUPS BY CATEGORY

GIFTS, TOYS, APPAREL, CARDS, PLUSH, BABY, ACCESSORIESCANDY, SUNDRIES
Double price + 6-10% for shipping 
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.5 or more
30-33% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.4 or more
**Higher for specialty candy
JEWELRYFLOWERS
60-70% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.4 or more
**Most jewelry comes pre-priced.
33-35% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.5 or more
What is your current markup right now, post-COVID? <– Click to comment!

What’s your take on markups right now? Give back. Do your part. Sharing is caring. Leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

PROMO: Summer Sizzler Father’s Day Raffle

Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager at CoxHealth in Springfield, MO recently shared a terrific Father’s Day promo event that she’s held since 2010. She said the staff really look forward to. We know timing isn’t right, be it end of summer, but we wanted to be sure and share it. Archive the article and set a reminder on your calendar for Spring! Huge thanks to Ginger for sharing this great sale idea!

“At the end of the season or on Black Friday I purchase some sort of a grill plus a table and chairs set, fire pit, etc. We then sell raffle tickets from Memorial Day through the Friday before Father’s Day. The raffle tickets are sold in-store and over email. The price of the tickets varies year to year based on what we offer. This year, since we have two stores plus some items stocked up after being closed last year, we offered two different options – one for each store location. Tickets can be purchased for one or both locations.  The email for tickets made up about 50% of our sales.  Here’s what we offered: 

Summer Sizzler Prize #1
$3.00 each or 2 for $5.00

  • Pit Boss Pellet Smoker ($198 Wal-Mart. Basically $0 using Sam’s Club cash back from candy purchases)
  • Patio Heater  ($87 Menards. Black Friday sale)
  • Jack and Jill Table & Chairs ($99)
  • Two bags of flavored pellets ($10 Wal-Mart)

Summer Sizzler Prize #2
$2.00 each or 3 for $5.00

  • 3 piece bistro table chairs (close out $59.00)
  • Stainless Steel Fire Pit ($27 Wal-Mart. End-of-season sale plus Sam’s cash back)

When you factor in the Sam’s Club cash-back, total promo expense were around $255 resulting in total sales of $3,757 – even with limited COVID hours at 40 hrs per week. We change it up sometimes with a charcoal grill, gas, or combination depending on what’s the best deal available at the time.

We also offer tickets for a large TV (60” or more) following Christmas for Super Bowl. The cost is around $200-$300 on Black Friday. It is successful, but not as much as the Father’s Day event, probably because it’s too close to Christmas.” – Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager, CoxHealth, Springfield, MO


Job Openings

Volunteer Services and Retail Gift Shop Manager
MelroseWakefield Healthcare, Medford, MA

Gift Shop Manager
SSMHealth DePaul Hospital – St. Louis, Bridgeton, MO

Gift Shop Manager
Christian Health, Wyckoff, NJ

Gift Shop Assistant Manager
Milford Regional Medical Center, Milford, MA

Gift Shop Coordinator
Munson Medical Center, Traverse City, MI

Gift Shop Manager
Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, MA

Gift Shop Retail Manager
Adventist Health System, Tampa, FL

Gift Shop Manager
Univ of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA

Gift Shop Manager
Blessed Sacrament, Scottsdale, AZ

Store Manager
Jefferson Torresdale Hospital, Philadelphia, PA

Associate Manager
The Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus, OH

Gift Shop Manager
Joseph-Beth Gift Shop, Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, OH


Guelph General Hospital gift shop launches online store

GuelphToday.com / Jul 25, 2021


Courtyard Boutique
Guelph General Hospital, Ontario
Website: gghcourtyardboutique.ca
Hospital referring page
Ecommerce: SquareSpace
POS: Stripe
Facebook Page
Instagram Page

Friends and family members of patients at Guelph General Hospital can now shop online and have gifts delivered right to their loved ones’ hospital room. The Hospital’s volunteer-run Courtyard Boutique recently launched its new online gift shop.

“The online boutique seems to be blossoming,” said Erica Bite, Retail Manager of the Courtyard Boutique. “We have made more than a dozen patient deliveries which are from the patients themselves or family and friends gifting to a patient. The deliveries are brought to patients by a staff member and packaged up for them in a way that always seems to put a smile on their faces. One of our patients let us know that they were happy for the inpatient deliveries because they were able to satisfy their sweet tooth rather quickly.”

Items available at the online gift shop include a variety of gifts for adults, children, new parents and newborn babes, flowers and foil balloons. Personal care items are also available such as contact lens solution, ear plugs, lip balm, gifts and batteries. Mints, gum, chocolate, candy and other snacks can also be added to the gift packages (if permitted in a patient’s nutrition plan).

Same-day delivery is available weekdays if the order is made prior to 1 p.m. No weekend deliveries are available at this time. Deliveries are made right to the patient’s room or to the nursing station if the patient is in isolation. The Courtyard Boutique is located in the hospital’s main lobby. The GGH Volunteer Association Board has been meeting remotely to develop the on-line gift shop. “We hope this new service will make it easier for friends and family to support their loved ones while the Hospital has visitor restrictions in place,” said John Steggles, Board Chair, GGH Volunteer Association. “When visitor restrictions are lifted, the online boutique may remain as a permanent service if we find people are making good use of it.” To visit GGH’s Courtyard Boutique online store, go to www.gghcourtyardboutique.ca

Click image to expand

SOURCE: Guelph Today


Q. Is anyone selling vaccination card holders/protectors?

I just ran across vaccination card holder/protectors, and it made me wonder if anyone has tried them and how they sell for you? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT. 289 beds. 7/15/21

Are you selling vaccination card holders/protectors? If so, who’s your vendor?

Do you find the comments helpful? Then do your part and leave your comment here or at the bottom of the newsletter. It takes a team!

Thank you!


Click to expand image

Marketing Tip: Tap into what motivates hospital employees

Hospital employees often say their main motivation to shop in the gift shop is to keep money in the hospital to support patients and for medical equipment. It matters to them that each purchase they make helps promote excellent patient care.

Remind your shoppers of this regularly with frequent messaging across social media, your website, at the register and other marketing mediums. Here is some sample language from Sprout Gift Shop.


SPONSOR

snoozies!® Sherpa Socks

  • Unique designs and colors
  • Fully lined cozy Sherpa socks
  • Keeps your feet warm on the coldest days and nights
  • Non-skid soles
  • Machine washable
  • Will not shrink

See all the snoozies!®Sherpa sock collections at snoozies.com

Call our in house specialist at 252-650-7000 ext 206


Social Media Example: Dot Sale Promo

Here’s a great example of marketing a Dot Sale on social media from the White Rose Gift Shop’s Facebook Page. Bright colors, seasonal graphics, catchy and succinct language. Plus, a link to the shop’s online gift shop!

Click image to enlarge


JULY 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #619
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • PART 4. Creating an Online Store:
    • Full and partially outsourced options
    • Getting help pro bono
    • Student volunteer, intern, work study
    • Ecommerce agency, developer, freelancers
    • Bundled ecommerce and POS services
    • Ecommerce managed services
    • Online resources and tools

  • Summer action list
  • How does loss occur
  • What is ‘Open to Buy’?
  • Merchandise mix Scratch-off card promotion (DIY Tutorial)
  • Protocol for reinstating volunteers
  • Plant vendors
  • Customer reward/loyalty programs
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


PLANT VENDOR

Is there a wholesale plant vendor you use to stock your gift shop? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 5/19/21

We have a flower business come in to deliver arrangements with an agreement that we receive a 20% commission from the flower sales. This business will also maintain or take back arrangements that do not sell. – Melina Dixon, Community Healthcare System, Hobart, IN. 225 beds. 6/16/21

Not sure what kind of plants you’re looking for, but a few years ago we ordered succulents wholesale from this nursery in Florida, Morning Dew Tropical Plants, for a succulent bar. They were great to work with and plants arrived in fantastic shape. Morning Dew Tropical Plants morningdewtropical.com – Shea Fowler, Unity Point


CUSTOMER REWARD/LOYALTY PROGRAM

We are interested in starting a customer reward/loyalty program. Requesting any advice on a system that has worked well in your hospital gift shop. – Stephanie Byrom, SJRMC Gift Market, Farmington, NM 194 beds. 5/17/12

We have a punch card that I got through Vista Print. For every $5.00 spent they get a punch. It takes $100.00 to fill. Once full, they get 30% off 1 items. It works well and the employees love it. As we require a minimum of $5.00 purchase to use payroll deduct, this is another encouragement to spend at least that amount. – Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services, Springfield, MO. 6/22/21

We do punch cards for every 5$ spent they get a punch, after the card is full, 9 punches, they get 10% off one item with that card. – Ann Payne. 6/17/21

We currently have a customer loyalty program that was easy to implement through our POS (VEND). Customers are able to provide their contact information which automatically enrolls them in the loyalty program. This has been a great bonus for return customers (mainly staff) as we do not offer employee discounts. – Shellee Laubersheimer, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop, Stanford, CA. 2300 beds. 6/16/21

We currently utilize MM Hayes Quickcharge POS. They have a built in Loyalty system that has several options and customizations. – Shea Fowler, Unity Point. 6/16/21


ONLINE STORE

I am currently working on launching an online store. It has been several months in the making but this topic came up at the best time and has helped me so much with all the other shops providing information, tips and tricks. I will be look in to purchasing a photo box and using canva! I have saved all the previous articles to continually reference. Thank you to everyone for all the great information that has been provided. – Sarah, 7/30/21

Hi Sarah, we’re happy to hear that the article was helpful! Please let us know how the launch of your online store goes. On the interim, let us know what issues you run into…or questions. I’ll answer what I can and put it out for comment in the next issue. Good luck! – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

First of all, thank you for deep diving into this subject. I wanted to know if having a POS is imperative to having an online presence? Is there a work around? Currently we do not have a POS, but we would love to explore the online possibility. Thank you. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, 5/20/21

A POS is not required to have an online store. You can sell, process payment, and fulfill orders entirely through your eCommerce software. You’ll need to coordinate your in-store and online sales, plus financials, and inventory. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


PROMOTIONS


Jose Madrid Salsa

SPONSOR

JOSE MADRID SALSA

Hand-crafted, All Natural,
Southwestern Style Gourmet Salsa

Assortment of 25 Delicious Flavors
Mild, Medium, Hot, X-Hot
Sweet, Savory, and Smooth

www.josemadridsalsa.com

For more information contact us at:
mike@josemadridsalsa.com
Phone: 740-521-4304
Samples available on request


SPONSOR

BRAVEHOODS
More than just a hoodie…

These inspirational shirts make great gifts for anyone needing a smile. For each shirt sold, one is donated to a kiddo fighting cancer. Sizing: 6 mo – 4XL

As an incentive, we are happy to donate the amount purchased to your pediatric oncology department.

Featured in Gift Shop and Wired Magazines

www.bravehoods.org
shanna@bravehoods.org


SPONSOR

BOOGIE TOES – AWARD WINNING BABY RATTLE SOCKS

The cutest baby socks on the planet are perfect for 3 early stages of baby’s development.

– Adorable rattle socks with plush toys.
– Rattling sound stimulates hand-eye-ear coordination.
– Busy moms can keep a tab on adventuring crawlers.
– Eco-friendly anti-slip sole for early walkers and runners.
– More than 80 styles to choose from!

844-548-3684
office@pieroliventi.com

SPECIAL DISCOUNTS for Cindy’s Newsletter readers:
www.pieroliventi.com/cindy-gift-shops (Pswrd: cindy2021)

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | July 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


JULY 15, 2021


Summer action list

Having a prosperous holiday season takes planning and time. Use the extra time now, during the hot summer months to put your plan in action.

  • Order stuffed animals for November delivery to raffle off during the Christmas holidays.  
  • Order next year’s calendars and date books now.
  • Holiday merchandise that you ordered in January should begin coming in.
  • Attend a local or major gift show.
  • Thoroughly clean and organize the shop and stockroom while business is slow. Now is the time to take markdowns and get rid of old merchandise.
  • This is also a good time to take an inventory of your wrap supplies. Order enough tissue and bags to last through the holidays.
  • Take mid-year physical inventory to determine your in-stock position.
  • Hold an Employee Appreciation Sale for employees. Offer 20% off all items over $10. This is a great way to say “thank you” to your loyal hospital employees.
  • Ensure that all your wall space is utilized. Wall art and décor can be a lucrative category for your shop.
  • Develop fall merchandise and displays.
  • Be merciless with markdowns. Before you put your merchandise back on the shelf, consult your sales reports. Each product should have to justify its existence coming into the Fall. If it doesn’t make the grade, add it to your Labor Day sale pile.


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS


Creating an Online Store | Part 4: Getting help, outsourcing, resources

by Nicole Stanbridge / Cindy Jones Assoc / July 15, 2021

This is the last of a four-part series on starting an online store for hospital gift shops. In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, we discussed pros and cons, practical considerations, the planning process, costs, software selection, setting up and populating the website, as well as policies and fulfillment. Here, in Part 4, we’ll explore alternative options when presented with obstacles like an all-volunteer staff, lack of technical know-how, time constraints, or budget limitations.

While the benefits of having an online store are clear, it might not be feasible for every shop. Who will manage the ecommerce software and website? Can orders be filled in a timely manner? How will online vs in-store sales be coordinated for inventory? These and other considerations outlined in Part 1 need to be taken into account. 

But, even if you have minimal technical knowledge, lack the time, or have an all-volunteer shop, there are still ways to launch a successful online store. We’ll discuss outsourcing options, where to find help, free resources, and tips for overcoming these obstacles.

Get help getting started

Many find that the largest challenge when starting an online store is the initial setup. Many assume they don’t have the technical knowledge (though, not much is needed with today’s Q&A setups). You can take a test run for free on Shopify, no credit card required. It’s hands-down the easiest way to set up an online store. The step-by-step process that will take about 20 minutes. You can even enter dummy answers. This is just a chance to look around.

If you still feel overwhelmed find someone to build your online store for you. We’ll explore paid and unpaid options for outsourcing the initial setup. Once the site is launched, you’ll find it’s fairly easy to operate. The most popular DIY ecommerce platforms are intuitive, straight forward, and user-friendly.

Pro bono help: students, volunteer, professional advisor

Contact your local university or high school to ask about creating a student work study position, internship, or student volunteer to setup your webstore. Reach out to faculty in the marketing and IT departments to recommend student freelancers, a local agency or other ideas. Student volunteers are also great at creating social media posts, photographing products, and developing other marketing materials.

🎯 TIP: Always use guest logins and passwords to secure your site and address student turn-over.

Establish a dedicated Gift Shop Ecommerce Volunteer position for your online operations. Again, seek out local college students or retired IT professionals. A sample job posting might look like the following.

Gift Shop Ecommerce Volunteer

  • Oversees and post product listings to ecommerce sales platform. Ensures it is visually appealing, easy to navigate, accessible, accurate and up-to-date.
  • Locates product information and write descriptions for online using inclusive language, consistency of tone and vigilance in regards to cultural appropriation.
  • Photograph products and upload to website.
  • Coordinates with the inventory manager to ensure accurate inventory to prevent overselling.
  • Respond to incoming emails and requests for help.
  • Drive traffic to the site via in store signage, weekly Enews feature, and social media.
  • Monitoring website for technical problems and facilitate resolution.
  • Manage ecommerce software, troubleshoot problems, and make changes.
  • Assist with inventory maintenance.

If budget allows, hire a non-exempt, part-time Ecommerce Associate for 24-25 hours per week at $15 – $20 per hour, depending on experience.

Commerce4Good is a group of ecommerce experts that donate time to help small businesses launch their businesses digitally. Commerce4Good has a network of more than 100 volunteer ecommerce experts that can help set up a website, ecommerce shopping cart, or troubleshoot issues. They can also provide guidance on driving traffic, accepting payments, or shipping. Schedule a 30 minute appointment to introduce yourself and your business and they’ll assign a volunteer member to address your needs. Services are 100% pro bono. You can also look for similar a NPO/NGO local to your area.

Paid help: agency, freelancer, web designer

Depending on your needs and budget, consider outsourcing the store setup and launch to an ecommerce agency or freelancer. Once the store is up and running, you’ll be fully equipped to begin selling, while having them on call for questions, changes, or maintenance. Avoid huge agencies with big fees. You need someone to setup the basic pre-programmed online store package from your ecommerce platform, with minimal to zero tweaks or customizations. An out-of-the-box, standard store configuration from a platform like Shopify is perfectly sufficient for small business needs. We also recommend hiring US-based professionals and request a project-based fee structure versus “per hour”. Slow freelancers can run up hours and, subsequently, costs.

Ask colleagues in your IT, communications, and marketing departments to recommend an agency or freelancer with ecommerce expertise. Request recommendations from friends, family or even on Facebook. The popular software companies also provide lists of agencies and freelancers:

You might be able to hire your ecommerce company directly to setup and launch your online store. For example, the launch coaching package at BigCommerce costs at $499 for the Starter Package and up to $2,999 for the Enterprise Package.  

Finally, agencies like Ecomitize, Redhead Labs, and Atmosol work with you on software selection, backend setup, web design, and integrations. Ideally, look for one that is certified with the larger ecommerce companies. Note that agencies can be pricey and may not be ideal for shops on a budget. Basic Shopify Setup from Atmosol starts at $7,000. Ecomitize specializes in ecommerce websites for gift shops across a range of platforms including Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce and BigCommerce. Their basic Shopify setup is around $4000 – $5000. Ecomitize also offers Ecommerce Managed Services for ongoing support at an hourly rate $30 to help with changes or questions. It’s like having an on-call ecommerce specialist.

Look for someone who’s responsive and won’t nickel and dime you for every little change. Whoever you hire, require a detailed outline of their deliverables, up front. You need them to simply advise, setup, and launch the online store, after which ongoing management and operations are turned over to you.

We’d love to help you launch your online store and accelerate your gift shop to the next level. Our starting rate for a basic Gift Shop Ecommerce Setup on Shopify is $3,500. Contact Nicole at Cindy Jones Associates to learn more.

🎯 TIP Setup up all your software accounts (e.g., ecommerce, hosting, domain) with your own name, email, address, login/password and credit card. Do not let the freelancer or agency use their own information. You should always be the primary account owner / administrator. Anyone needing access outside your organization can use a guest/admin login. This gives you full control and guaranteed access to these accounts. In the event of turnover or soured relations, you can remove users and readily secure your online operations.

It may be beneficial to contact your POS company for help adding an online store. They may offer this service for a fee, but again, watch the costs. Alternatively, some POS platforms have bundled ecommerce functionality. The online store module is native to the system and does not require integration with a third-party ecommerce software. For example, Square POS offers Square Online. It includes software, hosting and domain for $12/mo (Professional plan) and works with Square hardware products to provide seamless inventory integration. Lightspeed offers Lightspeed eCom, with full ecommerce functionality, bundled with their POS. Shopify POS includes both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar sale functionality for unifying in-store and online sales bundled for around $168.00 per month. Revel, Vend, Wix, Magento, and Miva POS all offer a built-in ecommerce module.

Outsourcing your online store: full and partial

Fully outsourced online store

Another option is to completely outsource your online store to an outside company where it is hosted, managed, and serviced externally in exchange for a percentage of profits. This is a viable option for all-volunteer shops or those with limited space for inventory. We are aware of only one company, Hospital Gift Shop Inc., that provides this service.

Hospital Gift Shop Inc. can customize each online shop to the specific needs of the facility, including product pricing and selection. They partner with local flower vendors to fulfill orders, plus national vendors like Edible Arrangements, Burt’s Bees, Melissa & Doug and more. Shops can also bring their own inventory online, along with selections from local or other off-site vendors. Order fulfillment, returns, and exchanges are controlled by the company. Not all items are available for same-day delivery and many products are drop shipped for home delivery only. Hospital Gift Shop (hospitalgiftshop.com), is a Healthy Commerce company with more than 550 hospitals under contract.

Partially outsourced: online store with drop shipping

A hybrid, partially outsourced model utilizes a drop shipping supplier. Product is sold through your shop’s online store but fulfillment is outsourced to a dropship company. This enables you to run an ecommerce store without warehousing inventory, managing fulfillment, or paying large upfront costs for stock. Instead, when you make a sale, the order is sent to the supplier, fulfilled, and shipped to your customer. You select and add the merchandise to your online store via an easy app integration. You can continue to sell your in-store inventory alongside drop ship products, as well.

As an example, Spocket has a colossal marketplace to peruse; there are literally tens of thousands of products. You can order sample products to verify quality, test speed of delivery, and take your own product photos. Spocket is compatible with Shopify and WooCommerce. Customers usually receive orders between 2-5 days. Product categories include apparel, jewelry, accessories, bath and beauty, home and garden, kids and babies, electronics, toys, gaming and computing. Products come with discounts between 30-60% off their retail pricing, which allows for a healthy profit margin. Spocket’s Starter Plan is $24 per month and entitles you sell up to 25 products, unlimited number of orders, auto fulfillment, real-time order tracking, shipping tracking numbers for all shipments and more. Their Pro Plan for $49 per month ($29/month/annually) allows 250 product imports and Empire Plan for $99 per month ($79/month/annually) allows unlimited products.

Like Spocket, Oberlo helps you find and add products directly into your Shopify store that you can start selling right away. They handle inventory, packaging, and shipping the product to your customer. Other popular drop ship companies listed here include Printful and Doba. We do not recommend AliExpress or Alibaba. eComitize can setup Spocket on your ecommerce site for $500 – $1000.

The pros include expanded product offerings, less overhead and inventory, no shipping materials, tools, fees, and easy to scale or change direction. The cons: You outsource a big chunk of your customer satisfaction. If anything goes wrong with the product or shipping, the customer still blames you. Returns can be problematic. More sales means potentially more customer support.

Sprocket

Additional Resources

How to Create, Setup, and Launch a Profitable Online Store (Seriously) Scroll down for article (“Chapter 9”)

Video: How to Start an Online Store (Watch Us Build One)  

How to Start an Online Store with Shopify: A Step-by-Step Guide

Setup Checklist

Storetasker for hiring Shopify specialists who apply for your job. Similar to platforms like Upwork and Freelancer.com but fully focused on Shopify


What questions, solutions, or challenges do you have with an online store?

Do you have an online store? Do you want one? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Thank you!

How does loss occur

by Cindy Jones, Editor 💮

We have noticed a lot of theft recently. We do not have cameras surveilling our shop but we do have enough volunteer staff that are now being trained to watch for theft. They, however, say they are not volunteering to watch for thieves, but to help patients, visitors and hospital staff. We understand that, however, our shop’s losses are increasing. We have signs that say, ‘Shoplifters will be prosecuted” but they never are. Just my opinion but I think most of our shoplifting is from hospital employees. Any suggestions besides an expensive surveillance system. – Sarah James, Rochester, MI 5/19/21

Most loss occurs in three categories: internal theft, external theft and through errors. Here are some brief descriptions of each category:

Employee theft
Employee theft is the largest contributor to loss for most retailers, regardless of size or segment. Although some may wonder why employee theft would be the largest category of loss, hands down, every survey, study and comparison across segments has shown time and time again that those who steal from a business the most are employees.

Employee theft occurs through many different methods. From simple merchandise theft to collusion with friends or other shop employees, inventory losses by employees can easily deplete your profits (and the merchandise available for sale to customers). The point of sale (register) brings with it many other forms of employee theft. Simply removing money from the till to elaborate “conversion frauds” that include refund, void or discount thefts, point of sale theft can often cause a “double-dip effect” where you lose money and inventory simultaneously through a single incident.

Customer Shoplifting
External theft is caused by shoplifting. Although it does not cause as much loss overall compared to internal theft, shoplifting and external theft most certain causes a substantial amount of loss annually to the retail industry. Controlling external theft requires a commitment to educating your employees and volunteers on good customer service, awareness to the signs of a potential loss and how to best protect the shop and inventory against external loss.

The last major area of caused loss in the retail environment is through Errors. Often considered paperwork errors, these mistakes can contribute upwards of over 15%-20% of a retailer’s annual loss. Ironically, most of the errors seen in retail are employee-caused, thereby making a retailer’s employee perhaps the highest contributor to the business loss every year!

Operating Errors
Errors can occur anywhere – from checking in shipments, to ringing on the register or transferring merchandise. These errors can include the inaccurate counting of merchandise to the improper discounting or accounting of a sale or tender. Simple mistakes caused over and over again have resulted in thousands of dollars lost to a single shop.

Inventory shrinkage is the difference between what booked inventory shows should be on hand and what a physical inventory confirms is actually there. The value of missing inventory is called shrinkage. Shrinkage can be calculated as a percentage of booked inventory.

Consequences of shrinkage
Keeping an eye on shrinkage can mean the difference between profit and loss. Even “typical” shrinkage carries a significant cost. If you operate a shop on a 10 percent profit margin and you lose an item priced at $2, you will have to generate an additional $20 in sales to make up the loss.

The National Retail Federation reports that retail shrinkage—a loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, paperwork errors, or supplier fraud — is 1.41% of retail sales.

  • Employee theft, accounts for 43.9% of total losses.
  • Shoplifting accounts for approximately 35.7% of total losses.
  • Administrative errors accounts for 12.1% of shrinkage and pricing mistakes.
  • Vendor fraud accounts for 5.0% of shrinkage

Hospital gift shops are thought to have higher losses (2%+) but shops that install security cameras can reduce that figure.

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


Q. Do you have an in-house floral shop?

We have an in-house floral design shop that is operated and staffed by volunteers. It is something that we love and are proud of! We are wondering how many other hospitals have an in house, on campus flower shop, and if so, what is their greatest success? We are interested in growing our operation. – Michaela Kanoski, CHI Health CUMC Bergan Mercy Hospital, Omaha, NE. 400 beds. 6/17/21

Yes. Our floral department is run by a paid staff person with more than 30yrs experience. Based on our volume and the inventory aspects, it would be challenging to run with 100% volunteers. Our greatest success is the ability to adapt to the many request we receive. In addition, we do many special request items for the hospital (events, awards, etc…) – Jeff Morris, Mercy Hospital, Cedar Rapids, IA. 6/22/21

I do not have an in-house floral shop, but use a local one to stock our flower cooler. I am wondering if anyone can share a wholesale plant company? I have thought about carrying live, potted plants in our shop to sell as an alternative to fresh cut flowers as well as to enhance the aesthetics of our shop and merchandise. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 6/21/21

We do have an in house floral shop. It is very limited on display space and storage but we manage to do well with mixed floral vases in the $30-$40 range and bud vases and smaller items under $20. We receive a lot of donated vases which helps with the cost. The hospital staff will bring in vases as they accumulate them. Occasionally I will put a reminder for customers that we are accepting them up on our whiteboard in the shop behind the cash register. – Doris Bowman, Wooster Community Hospital, Wooster, OH. 135 beds. 6/17/21

We do not have an in-house floral shop. Just don’t have the space. However, we do provide very small arrangements created by volunteers for customers. Product is usually donated by local stores and florists. – Peter Waugh, Memorial Hospital, North Conway, NH. 25 beds. 6/17/21

We have a flower business come in to deliver arrangements with an agreement that we receive a 20% commission from the flower sales. This business will also maintain or take back arrangements that do not sell. – Melina Dixon, Community Healthcare System, Hobart, IN. 225 beds. 6/16/21

We do not have an in house florist. I call and order flowers from a local florist when needed. I offer 5 price points of flowers so there is a nice variety in my floral cooler. – Kim DeBord. Riverside Medical Center, Kankakee, IL. 300 beds. 6/16/21

No, a local florist stocks our cooler twice a week. – Mary, University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, MI. 1043 beds. 6/16/21


What is ‘Open to Buy’?

Open-To-Buy is the amount of money you have to spend on new inventory in any given period. By controlling your budget, you will be able to identify when you are “over bought” or when you need to spend more to achieve your sales plan.

A helpful strategy is to identify those vendors that ship quickly. Then you can place small orders and reorder frequently. This will keep your inventory quantities manageable and increase your stock turn. I recommend ordering a one-month supply since consumer tastes change so rapidly. Your risk will be lower. You must control your inventory rather than tie up valuable dollars if the item doesn’t sell.

On the other hand, it is not good to run out of popular items. Yes, it is a delicate balancing act!


Merchandise mix

Does your existing merchandise need attention? It may meet some of the hospital employee’s needs, but is it missing the boat with others? Work to offer a full-service mini-department store.

The hospital employees’ perception of the shop’s merchandise is crucial. If employees see a consistent flow of new and exciting merchandise, both seasonal and everyday, they will stop by on their breaks and lunch hours to shop. Instead of just purchasing gum, candy or a magazine, they will make significant purchases.

Work to avoid one-of-a-kind items or separate “things” (left-over bits and pieces of groups). Aim for groupings of related items that make a merchandising statement. Markdowns need to be taken in a timely way to ensure that old merchandise doesn’t accumulate.

The inventory must remain fresh and up-to-date. When inventory is new and responding to customer needs and interests, it will sell. The shop must consistently have the right merchandise at the right time and for the right price. This will build customer confidence and trust. The employees will know they can find what the want and need at fair-market prices.

When new merchandise arrives, watch it closely. If it is selling fast, respond to it immediately. Reorders are the ‘bread and butter’ of a successful gift shop.

The most tragic three words uttered in a hospital gift shop is “Sorry, we’re out.” Those words say, ‘Sorry, we can’t handle your business.’ For a busy hospital employee, this could mean their last trip to the hospital gift shop.

Merchandise that has not sold after 6-10 weeks should be put on sale. The exception to this is higher priced gift items, which may take longer to sell. Watch the dates on merchandise to ensure that merchandise doesn’t sit around long.


GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Clear out stale inventory: Scratch-off card promotion (DIY Tutorial)

by Kathy Cruz, Savvy Shopkeeper

January tends to be the month where retailers refresh their shops. But the pandemic really changed things over the past year, so now it’s Q3 of 2021 and you might find yourself sitting on some stale inventory. You know, that merchandise that just isn’t moving – you either haven’t had enough foot traffic or the seasons have passed.

Over the past year many shops had their doors closed for an extended period of time, and even if you did open, foot traffic might have been low which means inventory moved much slower than usual. It’s understandable under the circumstances. Don’t feel like you’re alone, many store owners experienced this too!

We all know that retail space is valuable real estate so it’s important to keep merchandise fresh and new, especially for our loyal and regular customers who visit frequently. Under normal circumstances we often practice these traditional ways for clearing out stale inventory:

  1. First, re-merchandise
  2. Bundle it or offer a discount
  3. Host an in-store blowout sale
  4. List on an online marketplace
  5. Take items to a consignment shop or list with an auction site
  6. Donate it

But, sometimes it’s fun to do something different. Customers appreciate “fun” too! Now that restrictions are being lifted and foot traffic is increasing again, it’s time to get creative! 

Hosting a scratch-off card promotion is a great way to not only be creative, but have fun with your customers AND clear out old merchandise at the same time. Everyone loves a scratch-off card! The element of surprise is just too good to pass up. Scratch-off card promotions pull on our emotions. Once you’ve got one in your hands it’s hard to resist the curiosity to find out what’s under the panel!

DIY scratch-off card promotion

I created an easy DIY tutorial for store owners, so you can make these budget-friendly cards yourself. You don’t have to pay a designer or a printer to accomplish this. Simply decide what your discounts or promotion will be first. For example, you can offer cards with discounts of 5%, 10%, and 15% off.  But you can also have two big winners at 25% off. Or maybe one or two lucky winners receive a free basket of items! You can make these decisions based on the stock you have and how much you want to push out of the store. Click HERE to follow the tutorial. 

The whole experience of playing a scratch card is a positive one – especially if you set your customer up to win no matter which card they grab! I have two membership communities filled with store owners who have used the scratch-off card promotion and often tell me how successful their store event was because of it and equally important, how much their customers loved it. I want to see you succeed and this means keeping your store filled with fresh merchandise. Getting a cash injection from a scratch-off card promotion can give you just the budget you need to buy new products for your gift shop.

Kathy Cruz, co-founded The Salvaged Boutique, a home décor boutique. in 2013 with her sister. The endeavor started with a DIY blog, a few social media accounts, and a little determination. It only took Kathy and her sister 18 months of running their online business to realize they wanted to do something more with it and opened their brick and mortar location in Lakewood, Ohio. Kathy watched her passion grow from a fun blog and hobby with her sister on the side of her full-time job to a profitable brick and mortar home decor store. During this time, she saw the need for an online resource where retail business owners could find community and education. So she took it upon herself to create Savvy Shopkeeper, a podcast and services for micro-independent retailers. From full time job to full time entrepreneur, Kathy now helps hundreds of retailers work less and profit more, while running a store herself.


Q. What is your protocol for reinstating volunteers?

Our gift shop is currently closed and will be opening in August. What is the protocol after COVID-19 to follow for reinstating the volunteers? Do they have to show their vaccine card? What other steps are necessary? – John Klos, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services. Saint Francis Health System, Tulsa OK. 6/12/21

Since ours were out over a year, I had to re-orient them all. It was too many at once, so instead of putting this on HR, I booked a conference room and offered 3 sessions and lead orientation for them. It took about an hour and a half to get through the Joint Commission requirements. We are not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, but if they have it we put it on file in the Health Office. – Ali McCrary, Volunteer Services, Gift Shop and Auxiliary Manager at Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, IN. 6/25/21

Our volunteers are being phased in: first gift shop volunteers, escorts then OR Waiting room volunteers. Each group attends a very short meeting where COVID protocols for their role is described, infection prevention reviewed and any changes in their role due to COVID. – Ann Bergmann, Volunteer Coordinator, Cumberland Healthcare, Cumberland, WI, 25 beds. 6/22/21

We have a “re-orientation” our volunteers have to attend as well as provide proof of vaccination. The training includes new sanitizing protocols, changes made to procedures due to COVID-19, etc. – Christie Delbridge 6/22/21

At St. Vincent Healthcare our volunteers must be vaccinated, sign a waiver and wear hospital issued mask during their volunteer shift, of course this is in addition to all other records and training/ signature requirements as well. A copy of their COVID vaccination records is not required, nor do we add a photocopy to their records, I guess you would call it the honor system?  – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 6/21/21

All volunteers are required to be fully vaccinated prior to their return. Possible phased in return beginning in July.  – Peter Waugh, Memorial Hospital, North Conway, NH. 25 beds. 6/17/21

Our volunteers are not required to have the vaccine. I do ask for a copy of their card in case the hospital requires tracking. Most do not mind. Before they return I conduct an annual review with them and re-introduce them to the area. Many returning volunteers did not need retraining but if there were significant changes I did arrange for someone to be with the returning volunteer. – Melina Dixon, Community Healthcare System, Hobart, IN. 225 beds. 6/16/21

Our volunteers are not required to have the vaccine, however, they are encouraged to have it. Our hospital is still mask on so that helps but our Volunteer Services Department works with volunteers and encourages everyone to be vaccinated. To my knowledge, no one has refused. I reopened a year ago to reduced hours so that helps in bringing back volunteers. For the most part, everyone was very excited to come back, I had a few that declined returning. I changed the shifts due to the hours and it seems to be flowing nicely. – Kim DeBord. Riverside Medical Center, Kankakee, IL. 300 beds. 6/16/21

We opened our Gift Shop doors May 1, 2021. We also have reduced hours. 10:00-2:00 Monday through Friday. We still only allow one visitor per patient. We highly encouraged the vaccine. We also have a COVID-19 Information sheet with a quiz that must be reviewed and signed prior to returning. We have about 2/3 of our volunteers come back so far. – Catherine Taschler, MMC-Weston, Weston, WI. 90 beds. 6/22/21

Volunteers started back in April. We had to write a plan for our protocols – that plan had to be reviewed and approved at higher levels in the organization. (Note: not all volunteers are back – only selected areas, including ours.) We are restricted as to the number of volunteers we can have – and the number of cashiers – based on current occupancy limits and social distancing. We also have the additional role of a door attendant. COVID vaccines are not required at this time, but PPE – and strict sanitation and disinfecting – are required.When entering the hospital, volunteers have to follow the same hospital requirements as an guest entering the hospital – be it questionnaires, masks, etc. – Mary, University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, MI. 1043 beds. 6/16/21


💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated July 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.Jul 27-29, 2021
Faire Summer Market
VIRTUAL EVENT
Aug 3-5, 2021
August Atlanta Apparel

Aug 5-11, 2021
NY NOW Digital Market Week
VIRTUAL EVENT
Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show, Chicago, IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)
Jul 25-29, 2021
Aug 24-27, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer)
Sep 22-24, 2021
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Oct 5-6, 2021
Seattle Mart Fall Buying Event
Oct 13-15, 2021
October Atlanta Apparel Market
Oct 26-28, 2021
Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry
Oct 26-29, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Nov 1-3, 2021
Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Ocean City, MD
Dec 5-8, 2021
Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Myrtle Beach, SC
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

STATE AUXILIARY CONFERENCES

Oct 4-6, 2021 Council of Volunteer Services of Georgia Hospital Association (COVS-Georgia) Annual Meeting Macon, GA

Cancelled Texas Association, Directors of Volunteer Services (TADVS)

snoozies!® Face Coverings


SPONSOR

snoozies!® Face Coverings

snoozies!® three-layer cloth washable face coverings, are selling at a rapid clip in hospital stores around the country!
– Includes four filters
– Adult and children sizes/patterns
– Washable and reusable
– Comes with replacement filters
– Adjustable elastic ear-loop bands
– Flexible metal bridge for snug fit
– Over 20 print and solid designs
View our Face Covering Catalog or at snoozies.com!

252-650-7000
www.snoozies.com


JUNE 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #618
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • PART 3. Creating an online store:
  • Branding and design
  • Navigation and menus
  • Product images and how to photograph
  • Shopping cart, check out, payment
  • Delivery, shipping, returns, exchanges
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel!

  • Q. What is your protocol for reinstating volunteers?
  • Tips for attending AmericasMart Atlanta Market
  • Q. Do you have an in-house floral shop?
  • Featured: Twig Gift Shop
  • Job Openings
  • Q. Scrub hat vendor?
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


PLANT VENDOR

Is there a wholesale plant vendor you use to stock your gift shop? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 5/19/21

We have a flower business come in to deliver arrangements with an agreement that we receive a 20% commission from the flower sales. This business will also maintain or take back arrangements that do not sell. – Melina Dixon, Community Healthcare System, Hobart, IN. 225 beds. 6/16/21

Not sure what kind of plants you’re looking for, but a few years ago we ordered succulents wholesale from this nursery in Florida, Morning Dew Tropical Plants, for a succulent bar. They were great to work with and plants arrived in fantastic shape. Morning Dew Tropical Plants morningdewtropical.com – Shea Fowler, Unity Point


CUSTOMER REWARD/LOYALTY PROGRAM

We are interested in starting a customer reward/loyalty program. Requesting any advice on a system that has worked well in your hospital gift shop. – Stephanie Byrom, SJRMC Gift Market, Farmington, NM 194 beds. 5/17/12

We have a punch card that I got through Vista Print. For every $5.00 spent they get a punch. It takes $100.00 to fill. Once full, they get 30% off 1 items. It works well and the employees love it. As we require a minimum of $5.00 purchase to use payroll deduct, this is another encouragement to spend at least that amount. – Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services, Springfield, MO. 6/22/21

We do punch cards for every 5$ spent they get a punch, after the card is full, 9 punches, they get 10% off one item with that card. – Ann Payne. 6/17/21

We currently have a customer loyalty program that was easy to implement through our POS (VEND). Customers are able to provide their contact information which automatically enrolls them in the loyalty program. This has been a great bonus for return customers (mainly staff) as we do not offer employee discounts. – Shellee Laubersheimer, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop, CA. 2300 beds. 6/16/21

We currently utilize MM Hayes Quickcharge POS. They have a built in Loyalty system that has several options and customizations. – Shea Fowler, Unity Point. 6/16/21


ONLINE STORE

First of all, thank you for deep diving into this subject. I wanted to know if having a POS is imperative to having an online presence? Is there a work around? Currently we do not have a POS, but we would love to explore the online possibility. Thank you. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, 5/20/21

A POS is not required to have an online store. You can sell, process payment, and fulfill orders entirely through your eCommerce software. You’ll need to coordinate your in-store with online sales, plus financials, and inventory. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


PROMOTIONS



SPONSOR

BOOGIE TOES – AWARD WINNING BABY RATTLE SOCKS

The cutest baby socks on the planet are perfect for 3 early stages of baby’s development.

– Adorable rattle socks with plush toys.
– Rattling sound stimulates hand-eye-ear coordination.
– Busy moms can keep a tab on adventuring crawlers.
– Eco-friendly anti-slip sole for early walkers and runners.
– More than 80 styles to choose from!

844-548-3684
office@pieroliventi.com

SPECIAL DISCOUNTS for Cindy’s Newsletter readers:
www.pieroliventi.com/cindy-gift-shops (Pswrd: cindy2021)

Jose Madrid Salsa

SPONSOR

JOSE MADRID SALSA

Hand-crafted, All Natural,
Southwestern Style Gourmet Salsa

Assortment of 25 Delicious Flavors
Mild, Medium, Hot, X-Hot
Sweet, Savory, and Smooth

www.josemadridsalsa.com

For more information contact us at:
mike@josemadridsalsa.com
Phone: 740-521-4304
Samples available on request


SPONSOR

BRAVEHOODS
More than just a hoodie…

These inspirational shirts make great gifts for anyone needing a smile. For each shirt sold, one is donated to a kiddo fighting cancer. Sizing: 6 mo – 4XL

As an incentive, we are happy to donate the amount purchased to your pediatric oncology department.

Featured in Gift Shop and Wired Magazines

www.bravehoods.org
shanna@bravehoods.org

My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


SPONSOR

MY GARDEN OF FLOWERS
Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

This award-winning beautifully illustrated book, My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, by Dr. Manjeet Kaur is perfect for the hospital gift shop!

This invaluable resource for worried families gives parents knowledge and reassurance that their critically ill infants will typically grow to adulthood and lead normal, healthy lives.

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | June 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


JUNE 15, 2021


Providence Park League Gift Shop ramps up for opening!

Providence Park League Gift Shop has been in business since 2008 and is owned and operated by the volunteers of Ascension Providence Hospital (264 beds) in Novi, MI. The shop is about 500 square feet, sits in the main lobby of the hospital and managed by Brenda Deneau. Over the years, it has supported the hospital with over $1 million dollars in donations. Volunteers have been at the center of this business since the beginning.

The shop was shuttered on March 13, 2020 and slowly reopened its doors on a part-time basis in July 2020. For the past year, sales have been minimal as the shop was only open to hospital associates during the pandemic. Volunteers are not yet on campus but they are anxious to return. As the pandemic winds down, people are making doctors appointments that have been put off for a year and that is producing some walk in traffic. According to shop manager, Brenda Deneau, “These folks are shopping!” While outsiders cannot yet come in the shop, they take phone orders and drive ups.

For the past few weeks, they have been ramping things up to get ready for shoppers!

– Created a ‘Patient Shopping Coupon’ to include in hospital room folders.
– Hired two full-time associates (both with great retail acumen).
– Expanded hours to 8am – 8pm and added weekend hours.
– Created a Facebook page called The Gift Shop Associates. Check out the video tour and other terrific product videos.
– Created a QR code for shoppers to access information while in the shop.
– Launched into the gift basket business as well! What started as an idea has now turned into a full-on niche business. Lisa Dunbar, shop coordinator, is now the master of curated gift baskets for the shop.

Special thanks to Brenda Deneau for contributing the content for this story!


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS


Creating an Online Store | Part 3: Design, content, images, policies

by Nicole Stanbridge / Cindy Jones Assoc / June 15, 2021

This is the third of our four-part series on setting up and launching and online store for your gift shop. In Part 1: Value, considerations, consumer demand of the series we looked at online consumer behavior, current demand, pre-launch planning, as well as the pros and cons of an online store. Part 2: Costs, getting started, software selection and integrations examined startup and operating costs, technical requirements, selecting an eCommerce platform, and system integrations. Here, in Part 3: Design, Content, Images, Policies we will look at designing and setting up the online store’s navigation (menus), product images, as well as policies for delivery, shipping, returns, and exchanges. Part 4 will explore options for shops that don’t have the time, resources or staff to launch an online shop.

We interviewed four shops with successful online stores for this article. We encourage you to visit them! 

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop
Stanford Hospital, Stanford, CA
Shellee Laubersheimer, Operations Manager
Mamta Kaur, Manager, Retail Program
Website: shcgiftshop.com
Hospital referring page
eCommerce: BigCommerce / POS: Vend

Heart Strings Gift Shop
Princeton Community Hospital, Princeton, WV
Lauren Crews, Manager and Owner
Website: shopheartstrings.com
eCommerce: Shopify / POS: Square

St. Luke’s Floral & Gifts
UnityPoint Health St Luke’s Hospital, Cedar Rapids, IA
Noelle Boardman, Gift Shop Coordinator
Website:  unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/gift-shop-home.aspx
Hospital referring page
eCommerce: Hospital’s software / POS: Counterpoint

Sprout Gift Co.
Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, Saskatoon, Canada
Shauna Morgan, Gift Shop Manager
Website: sproutgiftco.ca
eCommerce: WooCommerce / POS: Square

A sincere thank you to all the managers we interviewed!

Other notable online shops:

White Rose Gift Shop, Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital (powered by Shopify)
Cedars-Sinai Helping Hand Gift Shop (powered by Shopify)
Strong Memorial Hospital Gift Shop (powered by NitroSell)
Wild Rose Gift Shop, Univ of Iowa Hospitals (powered by Magento)
Scarlet Ribbon Gift Shop, Ohio State Univ Hospitals
Methodist Hospital Gift Shop  (powered by Shopify)
Mercy Gift Shop, Ascension Via Christi Hospital (powered by Wix)

Branding and design

We’ve learned how an online store essentially adds another shop entrance to your business, albeit digital. It goes without saying that your website needs to look professional. Make no mistake, an amateur-looking website will drive away customers. Esthetics, layout, grammar, colors, and images all matter. Luckily, anyone can create a professional site using of templates provided by your eCommerce platform or if budget allows, hire a web designer. Do not use low-quality, amateur photos. Avoid graphics all together unless you feel confident selecting well-designed, brand related ones. You can find free professional-grade photos on Vecteezy, Pexel, Freepik and Stocksy. Use the search function and filter for “Free License”.

During setup, you’ll be prompted to set the website colors, logo and possibly fonts. The simplest route is to follow your hospital’s branding. Their name and brand recognition is already established. Build on this. Visitors should move between your webstore and the hospital webpage with a sense of familiarity and continuity. Contact the marketing department for help with these elements.

In some cases, you may decide to create a unique brand for your online store. We generally don’t recommend this path for marketing reasons, but one of the most successful shops we found is independently branded. Sprout Gift Shop is an outstanding shop and has its own brand with distinct colors, logo and design. In contrast, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop adopted the university branding, but still presents a perfectly nice page. Clearly there is no single path to success, though one will require more work.

www.sproutgiftco.ca

www.shcgiftshop.com

Navigation and menus

Navigation and menus for online webstores have two primary goals:  1) help customers find products; and 2) help customers discover products they didn’t know they wanted (e.g., add-ons, upsell). There are other purposes, such as providing policy and store info, but driving sales is primary. Follow a few simple rules for your site’s navigation:

  • Match top-level menus to your shop categories/departments
  • Model the navigation menus used by other shops in this article
  • Don’t get catchy when labeling menus. Use common terminology.
  • Keep menu labels short (e.g., use “Contact” instead of “Phone Number, Email, Hours”)

Utilize shop staff, friends, and family to test your site navigation. Lauren Crews from Heart Strings Gift Shop needed to restructure her site’s navigation after learning that shoppers were having trouble locating items. She conducted an informal survey asking family and friends, of all ages and technical know-how, to test her site. She also placed herself in the shopper’s shoes and role-played different search and browse scenarios. In addition to good site navigation, your webstore should have a robust “Search” function, backed by detailed product descriptions to power the search.

Your online store should contain the following pages, at minimum:

Shop   |   About   |   Contact   |   Shipping & Delivery   |   Returns   |   FAQ

Here are a few examples of good top-level site navigation:

Main menu
Footer menu


Product images

Poor quality images can drive away sales just the same as cluttered shelves, dusty merchandise, or disorganized displays. Luckily, you can take great website-worthy images using your smartphone. Recruit a photo-savvy staff or volunteer to help or request merchandise images from the vendor. Among the shop managers interviewed, most either photographed merchandise themselves or pulled images from vendor websites and catalogs.

Lauren Crews, Heart Strings Gift Shop, uses asks vendors for their catalog images in a .zip file, but noted that these images aren’t always relatable or realistic. She prefers lifestyle images (any image depicting people in a life-related activity) because shoppers can relate to them. Lauren also suggested showing the store in the background to convey the product message being “in store now”.

🎯 TIP   Asks medical staff to model items and include a short bio. This is highly relatable to your customers. Or, have your shop volunteers and staff model.

Noelle Boardman from St Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapid photographs merchandise with her cell phone or pulls them from the vendor. She learned how to take professional photos and create a DIY photo box by watching YouTube videos. Her tips were to place lighting directly behind the camera to avoid shadows and, also, make sure all images are the same size for uniformity. We’ll show you how to take product photos using a smartphone below.

To edit your photos, managers Shellee Laubersheimer and Mamta Kaur at Stanford Health Care Gift Shop highly recommended Canva. They find Canva to be essential. It is easy and intuitive, has lots of plug-n-play uses, and great for removing photo backgrounds. Canva makes it easy to edit photos, add your logo or other graphics to images, design flyers, create social media posts, and develop a brand profile. We recommend adding it to your box of tools, as well. Their tips were to use colored backdrops for white or light items, invest in a $50 photo box, and to recognize that quality photos will set your store’s credibility.

Here are some great merchandise photos, even for difficult to photograph items like scarves and books.

How do you photograph sundries? Remove the background using Canva or photograph them in a lightbox. Here are sites with good examples:  Personal Care Products    Patient Necessities / Sundries   Men’s Toiletries Kit  

How to photograph merchandise with a smartphone

Always shoot in HDR and the flash turned off. Turn “Live” mode off on iPhones. Set size to Portrait mode (or Square) and telephoto lens on newer iPhones. Don’t place item too far away. Fill the frame with your subject and balance content.

Exposure and Focus. Learn how to set exposure and focus. Tap the screen lightly and an exposure indicator will appear. Tap different areas of the screen to see how exposure adjusts. Experiment to find the best exposure. To tell the camera where to focus, hold finger on screen a few seconds until “AE/AF Lock” appears. Freeze focus on the item and background will blur. Experiment by placing an item directly in front of you and locking focus.

Alignment. Always shoot items straight on. Kneel or position the phone on same level or plane as the item. Don’t tilt, tip or angle phone. Hold it perfectly horizontal. Align the grid lines (under Settings > Camera) on the screen to any horizontal or vertical lines in your shot.

Lighting. Purchase a photo studio box ($20-60) or make your own. Turn off all other lights when using a photo box to reduce shadows. If you don’t have a studio box, shoot a bright area with natural light, like an atrium. Avoid florescent lighting and background light sources like windows or light bulbs. Time the shoot when light is even and natural. Avoid hard direct sunlight, shadows, or bright washed-out areas, adjusting exposure as needed.

Photo Editing. In addition to a web-based editor like Canva, you can also edit photos directly on your phone with the apps Snapseed (free) or Touch Retouch ($2.99). Both are simple and full of functionality.

Shooting items in shop. Shoot items in the shop using Portrait mode. This automatically blurs the background making the focused subject matter have the appearance of more depth. Tap the Focus icon in the upper right corner and use the slider to adjust the amount of background blur. After you shoot, use the slider in Edit.

🎯 TIP  Keep your store’s homepage updated with seasonal merchandise. But, be sure customers can find non-holiday merchandise quickly using your robust search function and site navigation. Stanford Health Care Gift Shop does a terrific job rotating product on the homepage to match upcoming holidays.

Payroll Deduction (click to view)

Shopping cart, check out, payment

The check-out process should be a quick, user-friendly experience to reduce cart abandonment and avoid problems. Be sure users can easily add products to their cart and include all the information they need. Include as much detail as possible, up front. If same-day delivery has a 2:00pm deadline, show it at every step possible. Include delivery and shipping policies in the check-out screen plus a link to the policy page on your site.

A good eCommerce software will come with a wide array of payment methods (e.g., Shopify includes PayPal, major credit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe). You’ll also want to accommodate payroll deduction, if possible. This will likely require a customization by your eCommerce software, in coordination with your institution. We’ll explore payroll deduction this and other challenges in the last part of this article.

Delivery, shipping, returns, exchanges

Determine what fulfillment methods you can reasonably and successfully offer. Following the mantra that options drive sales, the more the better: delivery in lobby, delivery in office, delivery in patient room, in-store pickup, curbside pickup, store-front pickup, shipping.

If you face staff or time constraints, take a phased approach with your fulfillment option. Start with a few of the easiest ones like in store pickup, lobby pickup, and curbside pickup. Once these have been in place for a few month, you’ve worked out the kinks and have a nice process, add addition options like patient rooms or offices and workstation delivery. Next offer shipping. It has the largest reach, but also requires the most resources and time. You may also find it’s just not feasible.

Promote all your fulfillment options on the homepage, across social media, in ads, flyers, and other marketing avenues.

State deadlines and requirements for fulfillment options clearly, along with other online policies like returns and exchanges. Here are several examples to take from: Sprout Gift Co FAQ; White Rose Gift Shop Shipping/Delivery, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop FAQ, Ohio State Univ Gift Shop Shipping/Returns, Cedars-Sinai FAQ

Use bold text, popups and repetition on any restrictions to avoid any confusion such as, “Flowers are not permitted in ICU, CCU or the NICU patient rooms.” Set the phone number field as required on all orders so you can contact the customer if there are any problems.

Remember that hospital gift shops have one major advantage over Amazon and other online retailers: easy returns and exchanges. It’s a pain to package, label, and drive to the post office. In your case, staff don’t even need to leave the building for returns. Use this to your advantage and make it a selling point. Promote these and other conveniences across social media, email, and other marketing communications.

Don’t reinvent the wheel!

Launching an online store is no small task, but it is doable especially when you don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Visit, study, and copy the shops mentioned in this article. What webpages do they include? What content is on their homepage? Who has the best navigation? What software are they using? If you’re unsure what to include in your Return Policy, pull text from other shops and edit accordingly. Bookmark two or three favorite shops as models and consistently refer back to them when making determinations for your own site.  

Next month, Part 4 will address common challenges, obstacles, and explore outsourcing alternatives when an online shop is impractical due to staffing, time constraints or resources.

Do you have an online store? What has been your experience?

Do you have questions about the online store topics discussed here this month? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Thank you!

Tips for attending AmericasMart Atlanta Market

“If you have a trusted business partner, divide and conquer. The market is huge, and you’ll need a detailed plan of action to accomplish your goals. Also, download the market app on your phone to make it easier.” 

“Bring a trusted friend or co-worker. Your first trip to AmericasMart can be overwhelming. Your buying partner can help with notes, lists, etc.”

“Book early. The cheapest and the best deals are through the AmericasMart site onPeak https://www.americasmart.com/travel/hotel-reservations. Never stay south toward the airport or at the airport and plan to take the MARTA. It’s not safe unless you are always in a large group. Find your rep in each showroom. Using them doesn’t cost you more. They can also tell you what sells best in your area and who else close by may have that product.”

“Avoid driving in Atlanta if possible. The shuttle service to and from the Mart is a great perk as well. Uber costs less than a taxi. It’s important to book way ahead for the best rates.”

“Plan your lunch early or late due to the long lines. Keep water and snacks with you. Eating dinner is a challenge due to long waits, so eat early rather than later. The shuttle buses are amazing but watch their operating times.”

“However long you think you want to be at AmericasMart, add on one day or even two. You’ll be happy you did once you return back to your store.”

“Have a focus and a plan. Save one day to source new products and vendors. Download the Mart App to your phone. Pack a couple of snacks.”

“Pre-shop showrooms prior to placing orders. It’s the key to building complete statements between multiple vendors. Preselecting what you want also makes it much easier for both you and your sales rep when you return to place your order.”

“Have a rolling bag to put catalogs, handouts, and a bottle of water in. Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers. This is not a fashion show; it is a test of endurance.”

SOURCE: SmartRetailer

   

 

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


Q. Do you have an in-house floral shop?

We have an in-house floral design shop that is operated and staffed by volunteers. It is something that we love and are proud of! We are wondering how many other hospitals have an in house, on campus flower shop, and if so, what is their greatest success? We are interested in growing our operation. – Michaela Kanoski, CHI Health CUMC Bergan Mercy Hospital, Omaha, NE. 400 beds. 6/17/21

Do you have an in-house floral shop and what is successful?

We need to hear from you! Don’t just take; give back. Do your part and leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

Featured: Twig Gift Shop

Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY Twig Gift Shop

Linda Leary and Anne Trocano, Twig Gift Shop, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY

Rochester General Hospital in Rochester, NY (528 beds) closed the Twig Gift Shop for 14 months during the pandemic. In May, they reopened and celebrated its brand new location inside the hospital’s latest addition, the Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care.

Next year, the shop will celebrate its 75th year of providing retail therapy in the hospital! Since its opening in 1947, the gift shop has been run by volunteers of the Rochester General Hospital Association. In those early years, they sold items hand-made by the volunteers. Now, they offer flowers, cards, jewelry, accessories, toys, apparel, gifts, and locally made candy.

Along with the shop’s only employee, Buyer and Manager, Linda Leary, the Rochester General Hospital Association is using the shop to serve patients, families, visitors, and staff while raising money to support projects that improve the patient experience. Currently, proceeds are supporting the new Twig Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that opened in October 2020.


Job Openings

Gift Shop Manager
Beaumont Health, Troy, MI

Manager, Gift Shop & Patient Services
Ardent Health Services, Amarillo, TX

Volunteer & Gift Shop Manager 
AdventHealth, Palm Coast, FL

Hospitality Retail Manager
Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH

Supervisor Retail Services – Gift Shop 
Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, Pontiac, MI

Gift Shop Coordinator
Prisma Health  Columbia, SC

Manager, Gift Shop
Sarasota Health Care System, Sarasota, FL

Museum Gift Shop Manager
Jekyll Island Museum, Jekyll Island, GA

Manager/Buyer, Gift Shop
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Volunteer Services/Gift Shop Coordinator 
Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, IN


Q. What is your protocol for reinstating volunteers?

Our gift shop is currently closed and will be opening in August. What is the protocol after COVID-19 to follow for reinstating the volunteers? Do they have to show their vaccine card? What other steps are necessary? – John Klos, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services. Saint Francis Health System, Tulsa OK. 6/12/21

What is the protocol after COVID-19 to follow for reinstating the volunteers?

Are your volunteers required to show a vaccine card? Leave your reply here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated Jun 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show, Chicago, IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)
Jul 25-29, 2021
Aug 24-27, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer)
Sep 22-24, 2021
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Oct 5-6, 2021
Seattle Mart Fall Buying Event
Oct 13-15, 2021
October Atlanta Apparel Market
Oct 26-28, 2021
Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry
Oct 26-29, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Nov 1-3, 2021
Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Ocean City, MD
Dec 5-8, 2021
Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Myrtle Beach, SC
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

STATE AUXILIARY CONFERENCES

Oct 4-6, 2021 Council of Volunteer Services of Georgia Hospital Association (COVS-Georgia) Annual Meeting Macon, GA

Cancelled Texas Association, Directors of Volunteer Services (TADVS)


Customer Satisfaction Survey

In case you missed it!

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Last month’s issue had a free template of a Customer Satisfaction Survey. Download for free here.


Q. Scrub hat vendor?

Q. I am trying to find a vendor that sells scrub hats. Can you please ask the other gift shop managers in your next newsletter. Thank you! – Debbie Collins, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI 4/19/21

We get them from Outside the Box (aka Badge A-Peel). They have scrub caps and bouffant caps. They also sell really cute badge reels. – Lori Johndrow, 5/17/21

Sparkling Earth. Staff love the options, fit and fabric design choices. – Lori C Campbell, 5/19/21

Outside the Box has cute scrub hats and bouffant hats. They have buttons on the side for mask ear straps to attach, also. They have Velcro badge holders with interchangeable buttons and acrylic figures. – Ginger McGraw, 5/17/21

 

snoozies!® Face Coverings


SPONSOR

snoozies!® Face Coverings

snoozies!® three-layer cloth washable face coverings, are selling at a rapid clip in hospital stores around the country!
– Includes four filters
– Adult and children sizes/patterns
– Washable and reusable
– Comes with replacement filters
– Adjustable elastic ear-loop bands
– Flexible metal bridge for snug fit
– Over 20 print and solid designs
View our Face Covering Catalog or at snoozies.com!

252-650-7000
www.snoozies.com


MAY 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #617
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • PART 2. Creating an online store
  • Startup and operating costs
  • Getting started
  • Selecting an eCommerce platform
  • POS and other integrations
  • Research, plan, and then execute
  • Example online shops
  • More shops reopening!

  • Tote Sale
  • Red-carpet welcome for volunteers at UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital
  • Free Template: Customer Satisfaction Survey
  • Q. Scrub hat vendor?
  • Online Store: Discussion
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


PLANT VENDOR

Is there a wholesale plant vendor you use to stock your gift shop? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 5/19/21

What wholesale plant vendor do you recommend?

Click the comment bubble or scroll to to the bottom and enter it there.

Thanks!

ONLINE STORE

First of all, thank you for deep diving into this subject. I wanted to know if having a POS is imperative to having an online presence? Is there a work around? Currently we do not have a POS, but we would love to explore the online possibility. Thank you. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, 5/20/21

A POS is not required to have an online store. You can sell, process payment, and fulfill orders entirely through your eCommerce software. You’ll need to coordinate your in-store with online sales, plus financials, and inventory. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


CUSTOMER REWARD/LOYALTY PROGRAM

We are interested in starting a customer reward/loyalty program. Requesting any advice on a system that has worked well in your hospital gift shop. – Stephanie Byrom, SJRMC Gift Market, Farmington, NM 194 beds. 5/17/12

Do you have a customer reward or loyalty program?

On behalf of all the readers and fellow gift shop managers across the country, thanks for commenting!

Merci!

PROMOTIONS



SPONSOR

BOOGIE TOES – AWARD WINNING BABY RATTLE SOCKS

The cutest baby socks on the planet are perfect for 3 early stages of baby’s development.

– Adorable rattle socks with plush toys.
– Rattling sound stimulates hand-eye-ear coordination.
– Busy moms can keep a tab on adventuring crawlers.
– Eco-friendly anti-slip sole for early walkers and runners.
– More than 80 styles to choose from!

844-548-3684
office@pieroliventi.com

SPECIAL DISCOUNTS for Cindy’s Newsletter readers:
www.pieroliventi.com/cindy-gift-shops (Pswrd: cindy2021)

Jose Madrid Salsa

SPONSOR

JOSE MADRID SALSA

Hand-crafted, All Natural,
Southwestern Style Gourmet Salsa

Assortment of 25 Delicious Flavors
Mild, Medium, Hot, X-Hot
Sweet, Savory, and Smooth

www.josemadridsalsa.com

For more information contact us at:
mike@josemadridsalsa.com
Phone: 740-521-4304
Samples available on request


SPONSOR

BRAVEHOODS
More than just a hoodie…

These inspirational shirts make great gifts for anyone needing a smile. For each shirt sold, one is donated to a kiddo fighting cancer. Sizing: 6 mo – 4XL

As an incentive, we are happy to donate the amount purchased to your pediatric oncology department.

Featured in Gift Shop and Wired Magazines

www.bravehoods.org
shanna@bravehoods.org

My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


SPONSOR

MY GARDEN OF FLOWERS
Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

This award-winning beautifully illustrated book, My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, by Dr. Manjeet Kaur is perfect for the hospital gift shop!

This invaluable resource for worried families gives parents knowledge and reassurance that their critically ill infants will typically grow to adulthood and lead normal, healthy lives.

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | May 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


MAY 15, 2021


In the April issue we discussed how you, as shop managers, sometimes feel isolated within your hospital environment because most hospital employees are not ‘retail savvy’ and cannot help you with your questions or advice. But, just remember how very important you are to your hospital!

  • You know more people by name than do most hospital employees.
  • You are there morning, noon and night seven days a week, guiding, assisting and helping people.
  • You help make hospital employees feel connected because the shop is often the ‘common ground’ where they can meet and visit with each another.
  • You probably answer more questions than in most other areas of your hospital.
  • And, when it comes to compassion, you are key to making patients and families feel they have had a good experience.
  • Most of all, you are the human side of compassion and making a difference. While you may not know all the patients, visitors and medical staff, you are right there along with them in your hospital.

Never feel that you are not as ‘important’ as any other employee in the hospital. You have a great opportunity to have a positive influence on 3 to 1,000+ people every day! What an opportunity!

– Cindy Jones, Editor


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS


Creating an Online Store | Part 2: Costs, getting started, software selection and integrations

by Nicole Stanbridge / Cindy Jones Assoc / May 15, 2021

This is the second of our four-part series on setting up and launching and online store for your gift shop. In Part 1 of the series we looked at online consumer behavior, current demand, pre-launch planning, as well as the pros and cons of an online store. Here, in Part 2, we we’ll discuss startup and operating costs, technical requirements, selecting an eCommerce platform, and system integrations. Part 3 will look at setting up the website, navigation (menus), product images, and online shop policies. Part 4 will explore options for shops that don’t have the time, resources or staff to launch an online shop.

Exemplary online stores
We interviewed four shops with successful online stores for this article. We encourage you to visit them! 

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop
Stanford Hospital, Stanford, CA
Shellee Laubersheimer, Operations Manager
Mamta Kaur, Manager, Retail Program
Website: shcgiftshop.com
Hospital referring page
eCommerce: BigCommerce / POS: Vend

Heart Strings Gift Shop
Princeton Community Hospital, Princeton, WV
Lauren Crews, Manager and Owner
Website: shopheartstrings.com
eCommerce: Shopify / POS: Square

St. Luke’s Floral & Gifts
UnityPoint Health St Luke’s Hospital, Cedar Rapids, IA
Noelle Boardman, Gift Shop Coordinator
Website:  unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/gift-shop-home.aspx
Hospital referring page
eCommerce: Hospital’s software / POS: Counterpoint

Sprout Gift Co.
Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, Saskatoon, Canada
Shauna Morgan, Gift Shop Manager
Website: sproutgiftco.ca
eCommerce: WooCommerce / POS: Square

A sincere thank you to all the managers we interviewed!

Other notable online shops:

White Rose Gift Shop, Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital (powered by Shopify)
Cedars-Sinai Helping Hand Gift Shop (powered by Shopify)
Strong Memorial Hospital Gift Shop (powered by NitroSell)
Wild Rose Gift Shop, Univ of Iowa Hospitals (powered by Magento)
Scarlet Ribbon Gift Shop, Ohio State Univ Hospitals
Methodist Hospital Gift Shop  (powered by Shopify)
Mercy Gift Shop, Ascension Via Christi Hospital (powered by Wix)

Startup and operating costs

Startup and ongoing operating costs for an online store can vary depending on existing infrastructure and the extent of services offered (e.g., shipping and supplies). Typical costs include eCommerce software fees, domain fees, webhosting fees, templates (optional), and web developer fees (optional). Costs for photo supplies can include lightbox, backdrop, lighting, steamer, and edit/design tool (e.g., Canva). If you decide to offer shipping, allow for expenses like postage, postage software, printed inserts, equipment, labels, packing materials, and shipping boxes.

“The startup costs for the Sprout Gift Shop website were fairly limited. Outside of having the website designed by a third party, the only additional costs associated were staff time, WooCommerce, and Shopventory. These depend very much on the size of the gift shop and the options that the organization wants. The website design fee was integrated into other regular maintenance fees with our website developer, Island Collective,” said Shauna Morgan, Shop Manager at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon, Canada.

The largest ongoing expense is typically eCommerce software fees (or shipping expenses, if offered). Among the shops interviewed, eCommerce monthly fees ranged from $60 to $300, not including credit card processing fees (2% – 3% per transaction). Most software providers offer a discount for annual vs monthly payment. Beware, some have steep setup fees.

Mercy Hospital Gift Shop, Manhattan, KS

Mercy Hospital Gift Shop, Manhattan, KS

Hire a web designer to setup your site only if you have the budget. The average cost is around $3,000-$8,000. Our starting rate for a Shopify eCommerce Website setup and design at Cindy Jones Associates is $3,500. Contact us to learn more. Otherwise, it is not necessary to hire one thanks to today’s user-friendly platforms. Only one of the shops we interviewed hired a designer. The rest were self taught. 

Below are some of the typical startup and ongoing expenses for an online store. You may not incur all of them. For example, you opt to bundle the domain and hosting with your eCommerce provider or don’t offer shipping. Thank you to Stanford Health Care Gift Shop for contributing content to help construct this budget! 

Infrastructure
Domain name: $8-20 (annual)
Web hosting: $80-300 (monthly)
eCommerce setup: $500-1500 (once)
eCommerce software: $29-300 (once)
Website template/theme: $60-300 (once)
Add-ons/extensions $50-300 (once)
Payment processing 2–3% /transaction

Photo Supplies
Lightbox: $50-150 (once)
Backdrop/lighting: $100-150 (once)
Steamer: $100-250 (once)
Mannequins/Head Busts: $300-500 (once)
Canva.com membership: $125 (annual)

Shipping
Postage software: (annual)
Postage equipment: $500 (once)
Prepaid postage: $100-500 (recurring)
Shipping labels $20-50 (recurring)
Packing materials: $200-700 (recurring)
Shipping boxes: $300-500 (recurring)
Gift wrap boxes/ribbon: $300-500 (recurring)

**Costs vary depending on shop size and services. eCommerce setup, template/theme, and add-ons/extension fees are less common costs. Packing materials include bubblewrap, tissue paper, tape, tap dispenser. eCommerce setup includes training and technical support. You may not need this.

Getting Started
What do you need to create an online store? There are three components required to launch:

  1. eCommerce software for creating the store’s website.
  2. Web host provider who will ‘host’ the website files (on a physical server somewhere).
  3. Domain name (i.e., URL, weblink) for the online store. This can be a subdomain of the hospital or a separate custom domain. Stanford’s online shop uses a custom domain: shcgiftshop.com. In contrast, Strong Memorial uses www.stronggiftshop.urmc.edu, a subdomain of urmc.edu.

These services can be obtained from three separate providers, a single provider, or a hybrid configuration utilizing your organization’s existing providers, when available. We recommend sourcing as many services as possible from a single provider, though. It will be easier to manage, consolidates billing, and requires the least technical know-how. Shopify offers bundled software, hosting, and domain for $29/mo (Basic plan).

  • Top eCommerce platform providers include: Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, 3dcart.
  • Common domain registrars (providers) include: Domain.com, GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, Namecheap.
  • Some of the best web host providers include: Bluehost, HostGator, DreamHost, A2Hosting, Hostinger.

Before deciding, see if your organization has established these providers already and also ask about any requirements. The hospital may have a webhost already, or require a HIPAA-compliant webhost provider, or prohibit custom domains. Noelle Boardman, Shop Manager at UnityPoint St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, learned that her hospital already had an eCommerce platform and local web developer available for the gift shop’s use. Also check with the maternity department. Most of them sell products online for mothers and newborns. You may be able to use the same eCommerce platform.

Otherwise, try to select a provider that bundle software, hosting and domain together. Ask your IT, communications and marketing departments for recommendations, along with friends, family, colleagues. Don’t go it alone. Use the resources and expertise available to you when selecting the required services.

Selecting an eCommerce platform

Selecting an eCommerce software to run your online store is one of the most important decisions in the entire process. As with any business decision, you need to do your research first. There are a lot of options, some better than others. The first step is to outline your requirements. Sit down and shop the example stores interviewed for this article. Write down the features and components you want. Don’t worry if you miss some. Right now, it’s about becoming familiar and discovery.

Consider creating a free 14-day trial with Shopify to become familiar with the setup process, identify requirements, and determine if you want to go at it alone or get help. Use the free trail as a learning tool. Then keep the account or close it, no credit card required.

It’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions at this stage, such as:What shopping cart and check out functions do you need?

  1. Does it have to integrate with your POS? If so, does it natively or require a fee?
  2. Will you hire a designer or use the templates provided to build your store’s website?
  3. Do you need a domain bundled with the eCommerce software?
  4. How big is your customer base? Some platforms charge by sales volume.
  5. Do you need shipping functionality?
  6. What payment methods do you want (credit card, Apple Pay, Paypal, payroll deduction, etc.)?

A good eCommerce platform has an intuitive interface, requires minimal technical knowledge, and includes robust online support documents and forum. A good platform will walk you through the entire setup, in plain speak, step-by-step fashion. Most come with templates for designing your webpages, including layout, components, and navigation. You’ll also find template language for check-out pages, refund, return, and other shop policies. (More about  policies for online stores in Part 3.)

Sprout Gift Co, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital

Sprout Gift Co, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital

Start thinking now about how, or if, the eCommerce software will integrate with your POS. Most of the managers we interviewed touched on this. Managers Shellee Laubersheimer and Mamta Kaur at Stanford Hospital Gift Shop said their eCommerce “options were limited because it needed to integrate with Vend POS. That was the priority and BigCommerce had best integration.” They also did a trial account with BigCommerce first, which helped. We’ll discuss system integrations, at length, next.

We use Shopify for the online store at Cindy Jones Associates. It is reasonably priced, user-friendly setup, designed for the non-techy, well supported, includes domain and hosting. Other popular eCommerce platforms include Square Online by Square (also known as SquareUp), Shopify, Weebly, Wix eCommerce, NitroSell, Magento Commerce, Squarespace, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce (requires WordPress). Explore the software used by the online shops in this article in Part 1. Additionally, there are good comparisons here in the 8 Best Ecommerce Platforms and eCommerce Platform Comparison – Which Will Be Best for You?

POS and other integrations

System integrations can save considerable time, prevent errors, enhance services, and increase customer satisfaction, while inherently optimizing operations. How the shop’s software and systems integrate, or talk to one another, can have a significant impact on shop efficiency. Here’s an example. Both in-store sales and online store sales will now pull from the same inventory. Your POS and online store should, optimally, sync these transactions. This was one of the most common challenges among the managers we interviewed for this article.

Stanford University Gift Shop

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop’s eCommerce platform, BigCommerce, integrates with their POS (Vend) and “serves as the source of truth for all things inventory related,” said manager Shellee Laubersheimer. In contrast, St Luke’s Cedar Rapids Hospital manually records online orders in their POS (Counterpoint). Shop manager Noelle Boardman said their lack of integration is the hardest part. “Availability is indicated online for shoppers, but items can sometimes sell out in the store. When this happens, staff notifies the manager who marks it ‘out of stock’ in the webstore. But staff don’t always notify the manager so the website doesn’t get updated.”

A good rule of thumb is to always integrate new systems upfront, on launch, whenever possible. Aim to select an eCommerce platform that is the most compatible with your POS and other systems. It will be easier and less expensive now versus retrofitting incompatible systems down the road. Sprout Gift Shop in Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital has their POS connected to both the online store with WooCommerce and Shopventory. “If an item is sold in-store or on the website, inventory is adjusted accordingly,” said Shauna Morgan, shop manager.

When researching an eCommerce software ask 1) does it integrate out-of-the-box with my system(s); and 2) how easily. BigCommerce integrates natively with Square POS, Vend, Springboard, Shopkeep, Hike and Clover. But, to our knowledge, Square and Shopify do not offer native integrations because they sell their own POS. If they don’t integrate, get a quote for the work. Negotiate fees or explore other platforms.

Note, you might hear the term API when researching integrations. This is simply the intermediary software that allows two applications to talk to each other. Enlist your IT department to help with integrations.

Don’t forget to ask your POS provider what eCommerce software they recommend for ease of integration. For example, Vend offers native integration with BigCommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce. In addition, many POS companies offer their own eCommerce component so integration is done. For example, Square Online can be easily added on to Square POS. It includes software, hosting and domain for $12/mo (Professional plan). Lightspeed offers Lightspeed eCom bundled with their POS. Be sure to check hardware compatibility first.

Finally, if you are already planning to upgrade your POS, consider providers like Square and Shopify that offer single-source bundled POS, online store, social media services, inventory platform, and more. There are always pros and cons, but bundled services are typically advantageous if time, resources, or technical know-how are limited.

Research, plan, and then execute

In closing, take the time now to evaluate costs, explore technical requirements, determine your store’s ‘must haves’, research eCommerce software, and make a plan. This stage is about learning, prepping, and planning.

When asked for the most important piece of advice to give others, Noelle Boardman at St Luke’s Hospital at Cedar Rapids said, “When you first start, you need to be all in and on board. Allocate the time required up front. Be willing to learn, dig in, and put in the time upfront.”

At Stanford Health Care Gift Shop, getting started “was an ongoing plan, partnering with IT and the shop, over 18 months. IT researched eCommerce options and guided us on technical and security requirements. They also lead communications with their eCommerce provider (BigCommerce) when problems arise,” said manager Shellee Laubersheimer.

Next, in Part 3 of this series, we will dive into setup, branding, site design, layout, product images, delivery, shipping and policy requirements for an online store. Following this, Part 4 will address common challenges or obstacles, and explore outsourced alternatives when an online shop is impractical due to staffing, time constraints or resources.

Do you have a question about the online store topics discussed here this month? Let us know!

Do you have questions about the online store topics discussed here this month? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Thank you!

Shops reopening

Mayo Clinic Health System, Mankato, MN

Mayo Clinic, Mankato, MN

At this time last year, we like so many others closed our doors until September. We are almost back to an 9am to 4pm schedule, Monday thru Friday, which is very gratifying! It was so good to know that what was going on here was the norm across the country and that we would make it through this. Thank you, Cindy, for being there for us.

Our shop is 1000 square feet and we use every inch of it. Clothing is our best selling category. Customers do appreciate the same amount of a style so they do not see multiples when at work or at an event.  We have a clothing display outside the door which is changed daily. That is golden! Other points of interest about our shop:

Our helium balloons sell for $3.99.
Our buyer attends 5 gift markets a year.
We produce monthly sales reports.
We follow ADA aisles requirements.
We give a 10% discount to our gift shop volunteers.
Shipping costs are factored into our prices.

– Mary Robinson, Gift Shop Coordinator, Mayo Clinic Health System, Mankato, MN 

______________________

St. Michael-Atlanta welcomes back volunteers

CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta volunteers have returned to duty after a “hiatus” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers reopened the hospital’s gift shop and returned to other roles Monday, following a luncheon on Thursday “to thank them for their dedication and to welcome the volunteers back to service,” the hospital announced. Read more…

 

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


Tote Sale

A tote sale worked extremely well for our shop. We bought holiday totes from Burton & Burton for $1.66 each, priced them at $4.99 which is a 66.73% mark-up. The promotion is, buy a tote at $4.99 and anything you can get in the tote is 25% off. And our pitch is “we can make anything fit in a tote.” Sold out of the totes in two days! I do this sale two times a year and my customers/employees can’t wait for it. Thank you so much! – Kim DeBord, Marketplace Manager, Riverside Medical Center Kankakee, IL


Red-carpet welcome for volunteers at UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital

The Courier / Apr 23, 2021

Hospital volunteers got their moment to shine Friday with a red-carpet welcome at UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital.

Volunteers have not worked at the hospital since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year ago.

A couple dozen staff members cheered on about 15 volunteers as they entered the building for re-orientation training Friday morning.

CLICK TO WATCH!


💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated Apr 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.RESCHEDULED for
Jun 5-9, 2021
High Point Spring Market
Apr 17-20, 2021
Jun 6-7, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
Jun 9–12, 2021
June Atlanta Apparel
Jul 13-19, 2021
Atlanta Market (Summer)
Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show, Chicago, IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)
Jul 25-29, 2021
Aug 24-27, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer)
Sep 22-24, 2021
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Oct 5-6, 2021
Seattle Mart Fall Buying Event
Oct 13-15, 2021
October Atlanta Apparel Market
Oct 26-28, 2021
Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry
Oct 26-29, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Nov 1-3, 2021
Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Ocean City, MD
Dec 5-8, 2021
Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Myrtle Beach, SC
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

Customer Satisfaction Survey
Click image to download

Free Template: Customer Satisfaction Survey

Customer surveys measure customer satisfaction!

Hospital employees are your primary customer. Do you ever wonder what they really think about your shop?

Customer Satisfaction Survey
FREE DOWNLOAD

Attention should be given to the categories that are rated ‘fair’. This indicates a number of people are not getting their needs met. If customer service ratings are fair to low it is important to focus on all cashiers (volunteer and paid) and work to improve their customer service delivery through an aggressive cashier training program. For every customer who complains, 20 don’t!

Be sure to communicate the reasons for the survey and the value the is expected from reviewing the results. Employees may be leery of taking the survey due to privacy concerns about who receives the information they provide. Keep the survey short and simple, with space for employees to write responses. A survey should not have lots of questions and take hours to answer—the response rate will be low, and the information collected will not add extensive value to the organization.

Keep the survey open long enough so that all employees have the opportunity to complete it, and send reminders to them to do so. Communicate the results of the survey transparently and honestly, regardless of how positive or negative the feedback might be. Provide action items and strategy based on the survey responses. You have an obligation to provide timely results.


Q. Scrub hat vendor?

Q. I am trying to find a vendor that sells scrub hats. Can you please ask the other gift shop managers in your next newsletter. Thank you! – Debbie Collins, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI 4/19/21

Who is your favorite scrub hat vendor?

snoozies!® Face Coverings


SPONSOR

snoozies!® Face Coverings

snoozies!® three-layer cloth washable face coverings, are selling at a rapid clip in hospital stores around the country!
– Includes four filters
– Adult and children sizes/patterns
– Washable and reusable
– Comes with replacement filters
– Adjustable elastic ear-loop bands
– Flexible metal bridge for snug fit
– Over 20 print and solid designs
View our Face Covering Catalog or at snoozies.com!

252-650-7000
www.snoozies.com


APRIL 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #616
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • Creating an online store | Part 1: Value, considerations, consumer demand
  • Exemplary online shops
  • Eliminating barriers to sale
  • Is an online store worth it?
  • Capturing “shop local” sales online
  • Managers share their pros and cons

  • The art of simple displays
  • Best-selling post-pandemic items
  • Online fundraisers
  • Readers recommendations on background music
  • Ongoing impact of COVID-19
  • Solutions to old inventory taking up space
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


ONLINE STORE

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


COVID IMPACT

Our store is approximately 1200 sq. ft. and due to social distancing, we have had to limit our customers in the store to 15. Nearly everyone has been patient while browsing and keeping their distance. We cannot have sales that would create swarms of shoppers, but we are missing the revenue. How can we promote the store and keep a safe environment? Has anyone else tackled this problem successfully? What was your answer? – Luanne Crosby, Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, NY. 800 beds. 3/16/21

My shop has been open limited hours since March of 2020. In spite of that, I have found some success in featuring local vendors – smaller businesses that make the product in the city where my shop is or in the State. People really like being able to shop/support local. I have identified these vendors based off staff recommendations. – Christina Blaskie, Parkview LaGrange Hospital, Kendallville. 22 beds. 3/16/21

Cindy, we have been locked out of our Gift Shop since March 3, 2020. New merchandise sitting in stockroom with no promise of opening any time soon. Most volunteers have become discouraged and not interested in returning. – Vivian Metler, Charlevoix, MI. 40 beds. 1/21/21

Vivian, Thank you for sharing. So sorry to hear your shop is still closed. So many are experiencing the same as you. Or, even worse, a few shops have closed for good. This is so disheartening. – Cindy

This is Diana from Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital Gift Shop. We have been closed since March 2020! – Diana LaRose, Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital, Ste. Genevieve, MO. 53 beds. 2/17/21

Diana, sorry to hear your gift shop is still closed. It must be difficult. Early results from the poll show the majority of shops are “Open, reduced hours”. We hope you can reopen with reduced hours or, even fully reopen, soon! – Cindy


OLD INVENTORY & SPACE

Q. What do you do with old inventory that is taking up space?

We host an annual clearance sale as well. Our store room is in the basement of the hospital so we have a $1-5 cart we put outside the door to move items as well. – Ginger Taylor, Cox Medical Center, Springfield, MO.  2/20/21

I manage a small hospital gift shop, and like everyone else, have “odds & ends” left over after each season. I create a “potluck” or themed basket, make it attractive and colorful. I use pretty paper and ribbons, so it’s seen as a “prize”, and raffle it off for $1 a ticket. Everyone sees it as a chance to get items to use later for gifts, or get things they just didn’t pick up for themselves. I take a picture, email it to all the departments, and watch those $1 tickets fly out the door! More times than not I not only recoup the costs of the items, but make a profit! The winner gets their picture taken with their prize, and is in the next email. It’s productive and great fun! – Susan Ingram, Gift Shop Coordinator, Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital, Phenix City, AL. 2/17/21

Thank you for this idea! – Holly Verbos, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey. 546 beds

A clearance sale or special of some sort. Maybe themed by a coming holiday or special day like a 25% off sale on the 25th day of the month. – Peter Waugh 2/17/21

If you have room to store it such as winter items, bring it back out in November and have a big sale. But only keep items from previous season. If you don’t have room to do this sell it drastically reduced for 6 weeks and donate what didn’t sell. We use Facebook and advertise our sales with pictures. – Debbie 2/16/21

I mark inventory that’s not moving down a couple of times and then leftovers are put in my annual “sidewalk” sale. I set up a conference room every September and mark these items to move. Employees look forward to this sale every year. I rarely have anything left. – Diane Honsberger 2/16/21

Very good solution, Diane! – Cindy

First, I get down to a 20, 30, 40, 50 dollar rack and if it still does not go, I donate it! – CC Cree. 2/16/21

On 50% off, do buy one get one. Makes 2 leave instead of 1. – Tricia Rochman, Pink Geranium Gift Shop, Carbondale. 65 beds. 2/16/21

Tricia, I agree with you 100%! – Cindy

We have a small clearance sale area in the back corner of our gift shop. Items are priced 30-70% off. The longer they sit, the deeper the discount. We usually donate the non selling items, but this year we held a $1.00 Sale. We put all items that we were planning donating on cart and sold each for $1.00. It was a great success and no one had to haul any boxes out to be donated! – B. Putnam, Coldwater, MI 2/16/21

Love the idea of a $1 sale! We always dread clearance items that still don’t sell and having to haul them to a donation station! It’s a win-win! – Staci, Methodist Texsan Hospital, San Antonio, TX. 200 beds 2/16/21

Read Cindy’s extended response in last month’s newsletter.


SHOPPING BAGS

Q. What vendors do others use for bags for customer purchases? We love having the “handled” bags, but feel the price per unit is eating away at our profits! I welcome any and all suggestions.  Thank you! – Darlene Brooks, Adventist Health 2/13/21

Nashville Wraps and S. Walter Packaging  – Gale Cialeo 2/18/21


PROMOTIONS



SPONSOR

BRAVEHOODS
More than just a hoodie…

These inspirational shirts make great gifts for anyone needing a smile. For each shirt sold, one is donated to a kiddo fighting cancer. Sizing: 6 mo – 4XL

As an incentive, we are happy to donate the amount purchased to your pediatric oncology department.

Featured in Gift Shop and Wired Magazines

www.bravehoods.org
shanna@bravehoods.org

My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


SPONSOR

MY GARDEN OF FLOWERS
Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

This award-winning beautifully illustrated book, My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, by Dr. Manjeet Kaur is perfect for the hospital gift shop!

This invaluable resource for worried families gives parents knowledge and reassurance that their critically ill infants will typically grow to adulthood and lead normal, healthy lives.

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | April 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


APRIL 15, 2021


It is still hard to process the many paradoxes we are living through today. We need community but have to maintain social distance. We embrace hope despite the current challenges. We act with certainty amid uncertainty.

Rice Memorial Hospital Gift Shop, Willmar, MN

Rice Memorial Hospital Gift Shop, Willmar, MN

The care you have poured into your shops has become a means of caring for yourselves. Some of you have even seen hospital beds moved into your shop. Just imagine! It’s this dedication  that has helped you survive the surrounding chaos.

Most hospital gift shop managers feel like an island in a very big ocean. Nurses, technicians, surgeons, and even administrators know nothing about retailing, inventory, markdowns, or cost of goods. Where can you turn for answers and advice?

We hope the material in this Newsletter, along with reader comments, provides valuable knowledge and solutions to your challenges. Thanks to everyone who’s contributed their comments and shared experiences. Our community of readers is stronger when we help one another.

 – Cindy Jones, Editor


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS

 

Creating an Online Store | Part 1: Value, considerations, consumer demand

by Nicole Stanbridge / Cindy Jones Assoc / Apr 15, 2021

The biggest takeaway from 2020 is the shift to ecommerce;
consumers have embraced online shopping with vigor and
retailers have responded with new ways of meeting shoppers’ needs.

The words “contactless” and “frictionless” have quickly become
part of the vernacular and shops that have
managed to break the mold and adapt are winning.
NRF / December 2, 2020

Launching an online store for your gift shop may feel like a daunting task. You could be grappling with the notion but don’t know where to even begin. Who will create the website? What software do I use? What will it cost? Can I do this myself or does it require more technical knowledge? Who will run it? Will it be profitable and worth the time? We’ll address these and other questions that come with opening an online store.

As the shop manager, you will need to answer these questions, and other points of consideration, when weighing the pros and cons of starting an online shop. There are, indeed, instances where the benefits do not outweigh the time and effort required. On the other hand, there are shops missing out on a significant revenue stream because they lack an online store. Your job is to research, learn, and acquire the information necessary to make an informed decision.

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop     

This is part one of a four-part series on creating an online store. In Part 1 we’ll discuss online consumer behavior, current demand, pre-launch planning, as well as the pros and cons of an online store. Part 2 will look at costs, technical requirements, selecting an ecommerce platforms, and planning for integrations. Part 3 dives into branding, site design, layout, product images, delivery, shipping and policy requirements for an online store. Part 4 will address common challenges or obstacles, and also explore outsourced alternatives when an online shop is impractical due to staffing, time constraints or resources.

Exemplary online stores
For this article, we interviewed several shop managers who have successfully launched online stores in recent years. The experiences and insights they shared with us were invaluable. We extended our sincere gratitude to each of them for contributing their time.

We encourage you to visit their online stores! 

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop
Stanford Hospital, Stanford, CA
Shellee Laubersheimer, Operations Manager
Mamta Kaur, Manager, Retail Program
Website: shcgiftshop.com
Hospital referring page
Launched: Apr 2020. Expanded Nov 2020
Ecommerce: BigCommerce
POS: Vend

Heart Strings Gift Shop
Princeton Community Hospital, Princeton, WV
Lauren Crews, Manager and Owner
Website: shopheartstrings.com
Launched: April 2020
Ecommerce: Shopify
POS: Square

St. Luke’s Floral & Gifts
UnityPoint Health St Luke’s Hospital, Cedar Rapids, IA
Noelle Boardman, Gift Shop Coordinator
Website:  unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/gift-shop-home.aspx
Hospital referring page
Launched: 2009. Expanded 2014
Ecommerce: Hospital’s software
POS: Counterpoint

Sprout Gift Co.
Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, Saskatoon, Canada
Shauna Morgan, Gift Shop Manager
Website: sproutgiftco.ca
Launched: August 2019
Ecommerce: WooCommerce
POS: Square

A sincere thank you to all the managers we interviewed!

Other notable online shops:

White Rose Gift Shop, Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital (powered by Shopify)
Cedars-Sinai Helping Hand Gift Shop (powered by Shopify)
Strong Memorial Hospital Gift Shop (powered by NitroSell)
Wild Rose Gift Shop, Univ of Iowa Hospitals (powered by Magento)
Scarlet Ribbon Gift Shop, Ohio State Univ Hospitals
Methodist Hospital Gift Shop  (powered by Shopify)
Mercy Gift Shop, Ascension Via Christi Hospital (powered by Wix)

Eliminating barriers to sales

The age of online shopping is here and will only continue to grow post-pandemic. This holds true across all industries and sectors. There is a reason Amazon is a $386 billion dollar company. Beyond price, shoppers want three things: convenience, speed, and ease. These are basic tenants of modern consumerism. Slow, complicated and laborious are all barriers to sales. An online store eliminates these barriers, when executed properly.

Here are four buying scenarios to consider. Each one is driven by convenience, speed and ease. Could your shop capture these sales?

  • Thomas lives in Germany and wants to have a $40-50 gift delivered to his mother’s room, tomorrow.
  • Dr. Stone works in the ER and needs a mid-priced graduation gift today. His shift ends one hour before the party with no breaks.
  • Brenda is a registration clerk. She is out of lip balm, mints and hand lotion. She’s also thirsty but can’t leave her workstation.
  • Lauren, in Phoenix, wants the $60 pillow that her sister bought at your shop, in Boston, a week ago.

If you have an online store Thomas can pull it up, selects a gift, and chooses “Room Delivery”. Dr. Stone opens your store on his phone, picks a gift, and  selects “Hospital Delivery”. A gift shop associate delivers it to him in the ER a few hours later. Brenda fills her shopping cart and a shop volunteer shortly arrives at her workstation with lip balm, gum, hand lotion and soda. Lauren finds that $60 pillow in your webstore and has it shipped to her in Boston. You probably missed out on these transactions unless you have an online store. 

Sprout Gift Co.

Sprout Gift Co.

Today’s consumer will seek out stores that offer both online and in-store shopping. They want the option to buy online when circumstances require it. Repeat purchases drive a significant portion of online sales simply for this reason.

Is an online store worth it?

Many shop owners want to know if an online store delivers enough value. Is it worth it? How much revenue will it bring? What is the ROI? There is no single, one-size-fits-all answer to this. At time of this writing, coming out of a pandemic, an online store is definitely beneficial. Every manager we interviewed for this article said it was worth the additional time required to manage it. But they were also quick to note the indirect value of an online store.

In our series of interviews we asked, “Does revenue outweigh the time and effort required for an online store?” Noelle Boardman, Gift Shop Coordinator at UnityPoint St Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids stated, “These don’t compare, per se. An online store is more about convenience and access.”

Lauren Crews, Heart Strings Gift Shop

“Today, if you don’t have a website, it’s not a viable store. Online shopping provides the experience and options that people want now. The more options you have, the more they are willing to buy.”  Heart Strings Gift Shop in Princeton Community Hospital reported 35-40% of their annual revenue is generated by the online store. Shop manager, Lauren Crews, said it is “definitely worth it.”

We believe consumerism and the demand for online shopping underwent a permanent paradigm shift following the 2020 pandemic.

57% of consumers prefer to shop online, 31% prefer visiting the physical shop, while 12% of consumers said both ways are the same for them. BrizFeel / Jan 14, 2021

COVID-19 changed acquisition expectations, as well. For example, the upswing in delivery and curb-side shopping introduced consumers to a new convenience, which they are unlikely to give up post-pandemic. On-demand, effortless electronic shopping is here to stay.   

Less time spent shopping translates into more time doing the things you enjoy. This is where an online store, with delivery options, can meet your customer demands. And, if you think it’s just younger generations shopping online, that all changed with COVID. According The Washington Post, “Older Americans are increasingly buying groceries — and just about everything else — on the Internet, and those over 65 are now the fastest-growing category of ecommerce shoppers” (Baby boomers, to retailers’ surprise, are dominating online shopping. Jan 21, 2021)

Outside of consumer trends, multiple factors like accessibility, payment and delivery options, design, user-friendly interface, search and navigation, selection and product images will all impact a web store’s success. Also, there may be external factors beyond your control, such as budget constraints. As with all operating decisions, you must evaluate your shop’s strength, limitations, finances, customer demands, staffing, time commitments and the like.

There are, indeed, instances where launching an online store is not feasible or even advisable. We’ll discuss these and alternative options, such as outsourcing the online store, in Part 4 of this report. 

Capturing “shop local” sales online

Another trend for 2021, following the pandemic-inspired online shopping surge, is to “shop local”. Of the top 3-5 trends that will shape brick and mortar retail in 2021, Senior Ecommerce Manager, Ray Ko, noted that, “64% of consumers still prefer to shop from local businesses making a positive contribution to communities.” Hospital gift shop are, indeed, local! But, they aren’t always convenient to access, which is why curbside pickup, shipping, and delivery options are so important.

Strong Memorial Hospital Gift Shop

Strong Memorial Hospital Gift Shop

With an online hospital gift shop, customers can still shop local but from the convenience of their home or office. Residents will love supporting their local hospital and healthcare workers, the community it keeps healthy, as well your foundation or nonprofit. Promote and leverage these factors in your marketing messaging!

Managers share their pros and cons

As with any business expansion, the pros and cons must be taken into consideration, including:

Pros Cons
Additional revenue stream
24/7 contactless shopping
Online presence, reach, validation
More fulfillment options
Promote sales and events
Showcase products and services
Requires additional budget (varies)
Time commitment on planning, setup
Requires staff to manage
Order fulfillment resources
Coordinating inventory
Payroll deduction feasibility

During our interviews, shops shared their feedback on the advantages and disadvantages of an online store based on their own experience:

Advantages of an online store

Larger reach, more conversions, more impulse purchases and add on. – Lauren Crews, Heart Strings Gift Shop

24/7 shopping for night shift staff, was a lifeline during pandemic, customers can shop from anywhere, expanded order fulfillment via in-hospital or external shipping. – Shellee Laubersheimer and Mamta Kaur, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop.

Quick and easy order processing (customer inputs everything), expanded reach to young shoppers and those who want secure online checkout. – Noelle Boardman, UnityPoint St Luke’s Hospital

Convenience and functionality, 24/7 shopping. – Shauna Morgan, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital

Mamta Kaur, Shellee Laubersheimer, and Kristal Scherer, Stanford Hospital Gift Shop

Disadvantages of an online store

Coordinating inventory, assisting customers with shopping cart and payment screens, possible loss of in-store traffic and personal touch. – Lauren Crews, Heart Strings Gift Shop

Coordinating inventory (POS isn’t integrated), orders for wrong “St Luke’s” hospital, same-day delivery orders placed past deadline. – Noelle Boardman, UnityPoint St Luke’s Hospital

Lose “touch and feel” experience, time commitment, extra monthly financials, shipping and taxes, coordinating inventory, getting accurate customer information. – Shellee Laubersheimer and Mamta Kaur, Stanford Hospital Gift Shop.

Training staff, though more advantages than disadvantages over all. – Shauna Morgan, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital

Thorough consideration, research, and deliberation over the decision will require time, but don’t underestimate the importance of this step. You may discover that an online store is, after all, not a good idea or should be delayed. Or, two of the shops we interviewed took a phased approach, starting small with a limited online selection. You will hear our enthusiasm for online shops throughout this series and every manager interviewed said it was worth it, but we also realize it’s not the right move for every shop.

We hope to arm you with enough knowledge to make the best determination. Next month, in Part 2: Costs, getting started, software selection and integrations we’ll cover the practical aspects of online stores like technical requirements, costs, selecting ecommerce software, the impact on operations and POS integrations.  

Do you have an online store? Would you like an online store? Share your experience or ask a question.

This is a big topic. Managers write to us about launching an online shop. If you have one, please tell us how you do it! If you don’t, what is holding you back?

We’ll try to address questions in the next issue. Thank you!

The art of simple displays

by Koti Lindsey / Gift Shop Mag / Winter, 2021

Displays are not just something we, as retailers, do to sell our products — they are our silent salespeople, telling customers our stories. We have less than three seconds to grab their attention and convince them to linger and engage with the story we are telling. Here are the key elements to creating a display that will inspire emotion and wow your customers into staying around for a while — and ultimately buying.

Outside the box

Think outside the box when creating displays and even when photographing them. Use something unexpected in your displays to create a memorable Vickie's Gifts and The Art of Simple Displaysexperience. I love using antiques and vintage finds in my displays. One of my favorite and most memorable displays is in an old cattle trough!

Start with why? 

The products you have purchased for your store have value. You bought them for a reason. If you had the time to explain to every customer “why” you purchased each item and could tell the story behind each product, you would sell much more; your display tells your story. Before you start your display ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why does your customer need the product?
  • Will it make their home beautiful?
  • Will it make their day brighter?
  • Will it make their job easier?
  • Will it make their life easier?
  • Will it solve a problem?
  • Will it make them feel better about themselves?

I believe your why is what fuels your passion and it can be the perfect start to a stunning display! Use signage in creative ways to share anything unique about your product. Write on chalk boards and kraft paper or use dry erase markers to write on mirrors. You can even lay out Polaroids of your products in use to give your customers ideas.

Rule of Thirds

Picture your display as a grid, divided into nine equal squares. The Rule of Thirds is a standard technique used in photography for aesthetically pleasing photos and can be applied to displays as well.

Use layering, height and levels to align products along the lines and create interest. Stacking books is a great way to get height in a display. Doing something out of the ordinary, like using a chair on top of the table, or creating tiers with other tables or crates is another way to gain height. However, there are certainly exceptions to every rule, and sometimes breaking the rule entirely can be memorable. Do this by creating symmetry and uniformity purposefully!

Negative Space

Many times, less can be more. Never underestimate the power of a little space. Don’t hesitate to back stock items in order to keep things tidy. Place an odd number of items together and break things up with space. Even numbers create symmetry, but odd numbers create interest.

Read the entire article at Gift Shop Plus Winter 2021 

SOURCE: Gift Shop Mag, Winter 2021

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


What will be the best-selling post-pandemic items?

Q. What does everyone anticipate will be the best selling items post pandemic? And, which suppliers of those products? (e.g., the great outdoors,  fun and laughter, togetherness and connectedness?). Customers will have less disposable income – where will they spend their dollars? – Mary, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI. 1000 beds. 3/8/21 

Clothing has always been our best classification! Not having our community back in, since last September, has really slowed that down. We currently have all our fall apparel at 40% off! – Michelle Suggs 3/17/21

Candy and chocolate – Peter Waugh 3/16/21

We have been seeing comfy clothing trending and I think it will continue to trend as corporations continue to analyze the benefits on a remote work force. Our hospital is in the process of strategizing remote work permanently for the future. – Debbie Kerr 3/16/21

FROM CINDY
Apparel is predicted to be the biggest sellers. Speaking for myself, this past year, I ordered 3 items of clothing online and sadly had to send them all back because they didn’t fit. So, now, I look forward to shopping in person for new clothes.

What do you think will be the best selling items post-pandemic?

Online Fundraisers

Q. Is anyone leveraging online fundraiser sales with online suppliers (i.e., they set up a site of their products for a period, your customers go to site to buy, you get a percentage at end of sale)? If so, which suppliers, and would you recommend them? – Mary, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI. 1000 beds. 3/8/21 

We have been using Nashville Wraps and very satisfied. If you order $300 or more you get free freight. Yay!!! We get tissue, ribbons, hi-density bags, and lovely gift bags in a variety of sizes and designs. Love this vendor. Highly recommend. – Debbie Swan, Mountain Home, 126 beds. 3/18/21

We have done several online fundraisers throughout the pandemic. They’ve all been worth it! Minimal work on the manager and staff. The best ones that we’ve done was with a local pizza place as a “Community Day”. I sent the information out to all of our employees and on our FB page. People were allowed to do pick-up orders and dine-in and we received 20% of the sales. We also did this with Jimmy Johns! Besides those, we did a really successful one with Collective Goods. I highly recommend that one if you haven’t had any experience with them yet. It used to be called Books are Fun. It’s an online gift and book fair! – Ali, Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, IN. 3/18/21

We are a non-profit hospital so we have been hosting successful fundraisers for years. Now, with the pandemic, we have turned to on-line which we are in the process of scheduling now. Your Silver Connection (Sterling Silver Jewelry) 678-793-2405 and Express Fundraising (bedding, household) 727-512-1313. We also do Nothing Bundt Cakes Fundraisers 2-3 times per year; Dillard’s – which we now have in-store instead of having them come to our Hospital. – Brenda Welcher 3/16/21

We have tried a few online fundraisers with some of our regular vendors. Minimal success and likely will not try again. – Amy 3/16/21

FROM CINDY
Mary, I am not familiar with on-line fundraisers where hospital gift shops receive a percent of the profits. I hope readers will be able to share regarding this questions.


💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated Apr 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.
May 3-6, 2021
Atlanta Spring Cash & Carry
RESCHEDULED for
Jun 5-9, 2021
High Point Spring Market
Apr 17-20, 2021
Jun 6-7, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
Jun 9–12, 2021
June Atlanta Apparel
Jul 13-19, 2021
Atlanta Market (Summer)
Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show, Chicago, IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)
Jul 25-29, 2021
Aug 24-27, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer)
Sep 22-24, 2021
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Oct 5-6, 2021
Seattle Mart Fall Buying Event
Oct 13-15, 2021
October Atlanta Apparel Market
Oct 26-28, 2021
Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry
Oct 26-29, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Nov 1-3, 2021
Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Ocean City, MD
Dec 5-8, 2021
Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Myrtle Beach, SC
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

Q. What background music do you play in your shop?

Q. Would love to know how others are playing background music in their shops and what services or equipment is being used? – Michelle Olson, Mission Hospital Auxiliary Gift Shops, Mission Viejo/Laguna Beach, CA. 300 beds. 2/23/21

We currently use Pandora for our background music. We change it up according to the season, and sometimes based on the customers in the shop! – Michelle Suggs, Whidbey Health Medical Center, Coupeville. 35 beds. 3/27/21

We use Spotify or Pandora with a blue tooth speaker. We’ve got a rule that if you can’t explain the song to your grandma, you probably shouldn’t play it. It seems to work pretty well! – Erin 3/18/21

We use a 5 change cd player, to play music we sell. It is all instrumental, mainly piano music, very soothing, soft selections for pleasant background music. Our player broke last month after 9 years of use, fortunately we could purchase the same player. It also sells the cd’s we have in our gift shop. A win-win choice for us. We have the music piped through speakers in our ceilings to give the consistent sound throughout the store. – Mary Robinson, Mayo Clinic Health System Mankato, Mankato, MN. 133 beds. 3/18/21

I use Pandora (paid without commercials) and they love Oldies!– James Padgett 3/18/21

We currently use cd’s and multi disc cd playing systems in our storerooms that have speakers run to the shop. Each player holds 6 instrumental cd’s for hours of playing time. It is an old way, but it works well for us. – Jamie Lee Hernandez. 3/18/21

I bought a business subscription to SirusXM radio and we play that out a our register computer. We did buy some nice speakers to go with it, to project the sound better :) – Kristy, gift shop lead, Ascension Borgess, Kalamazoo, MI. 400 beds. 3/17/21

We use our phones, Pandora and a BOSE Bluetooth Speaker (I donated). The sound is great. I play upbeat music. Most of our customers right now are staff and they love it. I hear them singing along as they walk by. Often times we play Motown, Michael Buble radio, Frank Sinatra radio to name a few and they always thank us for having music. I have noticed it often brings them in to just ask who the artist is and then they have purchased something. – Linda Armstrong 3/16/21

We use Pandora and pay a subscription. It works out well and we have a variety of music choices. – Debbie Kerr 3/16/21

We use a CD player in our shop and play classical CD’s. – Sue Seaben 3/16/21

I have a small shop and a limited budget. I use my cell phone and play Cardio 80s from Pandora. :) – Christina Blaskie 3/16/21

FROM CINDY
Your visitors, patients and employees will all find the music soothing and a certain stress reliever. In-store music laws in the U.S. regarding licensing, legality, and fines have very clear policies on what exactly businesses can and cannot play for their customers. The issue lies in copyright law, which protects music, the artists who create the music, and the record companies that promote and market the music. The ASCAP Music License is the most efficient and affordable way to legally use music from ASCAP members in your business. Check with your hospital. They may already have a license to play music.  – 3/16/21

Cindy is spot on. Please make sure that you are able to play music that is approved of. It is not like playing music in your homes! – Anne Obarski, President, Merchandise Concepts 3/16/21

I use a variety of sources. CD’s that I sell, local radio, iHeart radio by way of Alexa. My sound system (tuner, amp and CD player) is tied into the overhead hospital PA so that music cuts out whenever there is a public announcement. – Greg Holtgrewe 3/16/21

Cloud Stream. There are a variety of stations available. The one we are currently listening to is a mix of music from the 1980s thru 2020. It hits all the favorites. – Noelle 3/16/21

For now we are using our phones (Amazon Music, Spotify) and a Bluetooth speaker. A funded renovation may change this. – Mary, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 1000 beds. 3/11/21

snoozies!® Face Coverings


SPONSOR

snoozies!® Face Coverings

snoozies!® three-layer cloth washable face coverings, are selling at a rapid clip in hospital stores around the country!
– Includes four filters
– Adult and children sizes/patterns
– Washable and reusable
– Comes with replacement filters
– Adjustable elastic ear-loop bands
– Flexible metal bridge for snug fit
– Over 20 print and solid designs
View our Face Covering Catalog or at snoozies.com!

252-650-7000
www.snoozies.com


MARCH 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #615
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • Spring Action Plan
  • Survey Results: Has your shop reopened?
  • Q. What background music do you play in your shop?
  • When to take markdowns
  • Best-selling post-pandemic items
  • Experience with online fundraisers
  • Q. What do you do with old inventory that is taking up space?
  • Wholesaler Pick: The Coral Crab
  • Creating an online store
  • Vendor for customer shopping bags
  • Magazine, paperback vendors
  • Financial reporting system
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


ONLINE STORE

Q. We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job. Any other ideas? – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment.

Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website


COVID IMPACT

Our store is approximately 1200 sq. ft. and due to social distancing, we have had to limit our customers in the store to 15. Nearly everyone has been patient while browsing and keeping their distance. We cannot have sales that would create swarms of shoppers, but we are missing the revenue. How can we promote the store and keep a safe environment? Has anyone else tackled this problem successfully? What was your answer? – Luanne Crosby, Friends of Strong –Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, NY. 800 beds. 3/16/21

My shop has been open limited hours since March of 2020. In spite of that, I have found some success in featuring local vendors – smaller businesses that make the product in the city where my shop is or in the State. People really like being able to shop/support local. I have identified these vendors based off staff recommendations. – Christina Blaskie, Parkview LaGrange Hospital, Kendallville. 22 beds. 3/16/21

Cindy, we have been locked out of our Gift Shop since March 3, 2020. New merchandise sitting in stockroom with no promise of opening any time soon. Most volunteers have become discouraged and not interested in returning. – Vivian Metler, Charlevoix, MI. 40 beds. 1/21/21

Vivian, Thank you for sharing. So sorry to hear your shop is still closed. So many are experiencing the same as you. Or, even worse, a few shops have closed for good. This is so disheartening. – Cindy

This is Diana from Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital Gift Shop. We have been closed since March 2020! – Diana LaRose, Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital, Ste. Genevieve, MO. 53 beds. 2/17/21

Diana, sorry to hear your gift shop is still closed. It must be difficult. Early results from the poll show the majority of shops are “Open, reduced hours”. We hope you can reopen with reduced hours or, even fully reopen, soon! – Cindy


OLD INVENTORY & SPACE

Q. What do you do with old inventory that is taking up space?

We host an annual clearance sale as well. Our store room is in the basement of the hospital so we have a $1-5 cart we put outside the door to move items as well. – Ginger Taylor, Cox Medical Center, Springfield, MO.  2/20/21

I manage a small hospital gift shop, and like everyone else, have “odds & ends” left over after each season. I create a “potluck” or themed basket, make it attractive and colorful. I use pretty paper and ribbons, so it’s seen as a “prize”, and raffle it off for $1 a ticket. Everyone sees it as a chance to get items to use later for gifts, or get things they just didn’t pick up for themselves. I take a picture, email it to all the departments, and watch those $1 tickets fly out the door! More times than not I not only recoup the costs of the items, but make a profit! The winner gets their picture taken with their prize, and is in the next email. It’s productive and great fun! – Susan Ingram, Gift Shop Coordinator, Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital, Phenix City, AL. 2/17/21

Thank you for this idea! – Holly Verbos, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey. 546 beds

A clearance sale or special of some sort. Maybe themed by a coming holiday or special day like a 25% off sale on the 25th day of the month. – Peter Waugh 2/17/21

If you have room to store it such as winter items, bring it back out in November and have a big sale. But only keep items from previous season. If you don’t have room to do this sell it drastically reduced for 6 weeks and donate what didn’t sell. We use Facebook and advertise our sales with pictures. – Debbie 2/16/21

I mark inventory that’s not moving down a couple of times and then leftovers are put in my annual “sidewalk” sale. I set up a conference room every September and mark these items to move. Employees look forward to this sale every year. I rarely have anything left. – Diane Honsberger 2/16/21

Very good solution, Diane! – Cindy

First, I get down to a 20, 30, 40, 50 dollar rack and if it still does not go, I donate it! – CC Cree. 2/16/21

On 50% off, do buy one get one. Makes 2 leave instead of 1. – Tricia Rochman, Pink Geranium Gift Shop, Carbondale. 65 beds. 2/16/21

Tricia, I agree with you 100%! – Cindy

We have a small clearance sale area in the back corner of our gift shop. Items are priced 30-70% off. The longer they sit, the deeper the discount. We usually donate the non selling items, but this year we held a $1.00 Sale. We put all items that we were planning donating on cart and sold each for $1.00. It was a great success and no one had to haul any boxes out to be donated! – B. Putnam, Coldwater, MI 2/16/21

Love the idea of a $1 sale! We always dread clearance items that still don’t sell and having to haul them to a donation station! It’s a win-win! – Staci, Methodist Texsan Hospital, San Antonio, TX. 200 beds 2/16/21

Read Cindy’s extended response in last month’s newsletter.


SHOPPING BAGS

Q. What vendors do others use for bags for customer purchases? We love having the “handled” bags, but feel the price per unit is eating away at our profits! I welcome any and all suggestions.  Thank you! – Darlene Brooks, Adventist Health 2/13/21

Nashville Wraps and S. Walter Packaging  – Gale Cialeo 2/18/21


PROMOTIONS



SPONSOR

BRAVEHOODS
More than just a hoodie…

These inspirational shirts make great gifts for anyone needing a smile. For each shirt sold, one is donated to a kiddo fighting cancer. Sizing: 6 mo – 4XL

As an incentive, we are happy to donate the amount purchased to your pediatric oncology department.

Featured in Gift Shop and Wired Magazines

www.bravehoods.org
shanna@bravehoods.org

My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


SPONSOR

MY GARDEN OF FLOWERS
Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

This award-winning beautifully illustrated book, My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, by Dr. Manjeet Kaur is perfect for the hospital gift shop!

This invaluable resource for worried families gives parents knowledge and reassurance that their critically ill infants will typically grow to adulthood and lead normal, healthy lives.

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | March 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


MARCH 15, 2021


Spring Action Plan

by Cindy Jones, Editor and Publisher 💮

April and May are big selling months!
Be prepared for these dates with a steady stream of exciting merchandise.

UPCOMING HOLIDAYS
March 30: Doctor’s Day
April: National Humor Month
April 4: Easter Sunday
April 18-24: National Volunteers Week
April 21: Administrative Professional’s Day
May: Graduations
May 6: Nurse’s Day
May 9: Mother’s Day,

April is National Humor Month Put a smile on! Remember that it takes 72 muscles to frown and only 14 to smile.

Easter (April 4). Display your Easter merchandise now!

  • Stir up excitement by purchasing a large plush Easter bunny. Begin a raffle for it now!
  • Display spring and garden merchandise.
  • Arrange with your shop’s florist to increase your flower orders for Easter and Mother’s Day. Ask them to prepare some special blooming bulb plants in baskets for those important special occasions. Order containers of cut daffodils and tulips (to sell by the stem).

Mother’s Day (May 9). Start laying plans and complete your buying for a dynamite Mother’s Day display! Include candy, flowers, plants, jewelry, candles, soaps, vases and other appropriate gifts. What do people buy for Mother’s Day?

  • Flowers/plants 31%
  • Clothing 13%
  • Cards 12%
  • Jewelry 8%
  • Fragrance 4%

Doctor’s Day (March 30) Show appreciation to doctors with a complimentary candy bar and a 20% off coupon. The carnation is the official flower of Doctors’ Day. Consider offering a carnation to each doctor that day. Not many doctors frequent hospital gift shops so this might be a chance to make new friends.

National Volunteer Week (April 18-24) Honor your volunteers with something special! Nothing beats a personalized, hand-written thank-you note. While it may be challenging to come up with something unique and personal about each of them, it is well worth the time. It will energize and inspire them to perform even better. Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. Other things you can do; give a $5 gift certificate, small potted spring flower, or tote bags. Volunteers want to feel valued and important. Encourage “pride of ownership” by empowering them to initiate shop decisions that best serve the customers’ needs.

Administrative Professionals Day (April 21) is always the fourth Wednesday in April.

  • Place an announcement in the hospital newsletter about your shop’s sales.
  • Create an inviting display of appropriate merchandise from around the shop; appointment books, gratitude plaques, address books, pens, etc.
  • Schedule additional cashier to work on Administrative Professionals Day. 
  • Arrange with your florist to have containers of pale pink and yellow carnations and ferns for the day.

Nurse’s Day (May 6) Begin laying plans now for a Nurse’s Day Special Discount Day! Offer 25% off any one item on May 6.

Graduations! Train your cashiers to do suggestive selling to customers looking for graduation gifts. Examples: frames, desk accessories, mugs, figurines, etc.

BUY: Now is the time to purchase fall women’s sportswear and baby apparel!


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS

 

SURVEY RESULTS: Has your shop reopened?

Good news! We are beginning to see a majority of shops opening back up in one form or another.

You have had to learn new ways to operate your shops through the pandemic, so now it’s time to get back to business and set new goals and visions for whatever comes next!


What background music do you play in your shop?

Q. Would love to know how others are playing background music in their shops and what services or equipment is being used? – Michelle Olson, Mission Hospital Auxiliary Gift Shops, Mission Viejo/Laguna Beach, CA. 300 beds. 2/23/21

For now we are using our phones (Amazon Music, Spotify) and a Bluetooth speaker. A funded renovation may change this. – Mary, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 1000 beds. 3/11/21

FROM CINDY
Your visitors, patients and employees will all find the music soothing and a certain stress reliever. In-store music laws in the U.S. regarding licensing, legality, and fines have very clear policies on what exactly businesses can and cannot play for their customers. The issue lies in copyright law, which protects music, the artists who create the music, and the record companies that promote and market the music. The ASCAP Music License is the most efficient and affordable way to legally use music from ASCAP members in your business. Check with your hospital. They may already have a license to play music.

Who do you use for background music? What equipment works the best?

🎶 Setting the mood with music will be sorely needed in 2021. Tell us how you’ll do it!

Thank you!

When to take markdowns

Q. I would like to know everyone’s feedback on how many cycles should you keep merchandise (when you first buy it) before first initial price mark down. I think this is where I kind of get hung up on sometimes. Thanks in advance. Thanks in advance. – LaDonna Kelley, Gift Shop Manager, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Health System, Tyler TX. 400 beds

I have begun only holding for a year, but sometimes less if the item hardly sold in the initial display. I will have a “flash sale” or put out a clearance cart and just move it on out. – Holly Verbos, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey. 544 beds. 2/22/21

FROM CINDY

Sales can be tricky, as you don’t want to train customers to wait for monthly sales. Identify slow sellers on a quarterly basis and move them out as necessary. Or, create a permanent clearance area and add products as you see fit to move them out.
 In general, products have about 12-week inventory cycle. While it’s easy to fall in love with a product, if you see it’s not moving off the shelf, start marking it down so you can make room for something that is selling. For example, you buy the same item in three different colors. The black and blue items are turning much faster than the yellow. Take this opportunity to markdown the yellow one, which gives you the cash to purchase more of the higher-performing black and blue items, which you can sell for a better margin.


Be Proactive 
You don’t want to be left with items that aren’t moving off your shelves because they are costing you money every day they sit there!

Create a plan before going into the next selling season that includes how and when you need to mark items down, as well as how to present that information to your customers. This will help meet your goal of selling as much at full price as you can, and also account for any subsequent markdowns.

Define Your Goals 
You want to get rid of inventory that hasn’t sold well and recoup as much of your initial investment as possible? A markdown is probably your best option.

Look at Historical Data 
Your POS system can be your best friend because it gives you the entire data of what you have left, when you marked down items in the previous season, and whether or not the markdowns were effective. With this knowledge, you’ll have a  good indication of when you should start marking things down. In addition, it can also tell you how you can improve your buying plan in the future.

Markdowns
There is no magic markdown formula that will bring in profits and increase sales! There are many things to consideration in determining your markdown schedule.

Depending upon the number of sale events you hold, the initial price reductions will vary.

    • Take 25% off if the product is still selling but slowly.
    • If the product is not selling take 40% off at the first markdown.
    • Lastly, take a second markdown to 50% off or more.

Create a sense of urgency! “Buy now!” signage helps.

Don’t get too emotionally attached to products that just don’t sell!
When something does not sell, move it out!

Remember to reserve markdowns for clearing out “old” merchandise. The last thing you want is to have your shop become one of those where discounted goods and clearance events are the status quo. You don’t want to become a discount store, marking down all your products to try and entice more sales. The goal is to get the best margin possible while moving out slower items. 

Keep your inventory lean, your cash flow positive, your shop’s merchandise fresh, and your displays and merchandising new and inviting!

A great way to avoid this is by strategically planning clearance events. These are not the twice-a-year markdown sales when you place all the season’s leftover items on a table with a “Reduced” sign.

Instead, you need a specially orchestrated promotion that can have a significant impact on product demand and sales. By planning several of these exciting events each year, you’re giving customers a reason to return to the shop on a regular basis.

Focus on your strategy before rushing into a price-cutting extravaganza, which could hurt your bottom line in the long run. Also, carefully consider how low you can reasonably go on your pricing. You want to go low enough to draw customers, but still make money for your business.

 

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


What will be the best-selling post-pandemic items?

Q. What does everyone anticipate will be the best selling items post pandemic? And, which suppliers of those products? (e.g., the great outdoors,  fun and laughter, togetherness and connectedness?). Customers will have less disposable income – where will they spend their dollars? – Mary, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI. 1000 beds. 3/8/21 

FROM CINDY
Regarding best selling items when the pandemic ends, apparel is predicted to be the biggest sellers. Speaking for myself, This past year, I ordered 3 items of clothing online and sadly had to send them all back because they didn’t fit. So, now, I look forward to shopping in person for new clothes.

What do you think the post-pandemic best sellers will be?

Are the comments helpful? Then do your part and leave one here or at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

Top Candle Lines

GiftBeat Mag, February 2021

Thymes winner for the NorthEast

Tyler Candle in the South

Swan Creek in the MidWest

Root Candles in the West 

SOURCE: GiftBeat


Online Fundraisers

Q. Is anyone leveraging online fundraiser sales with online suppliers (i.e., they set up a site of their products for a period, your customers go to site to buy, you get a percentage at end of sale)? If so, which suppliers, and would you recommend them? – Mary, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI. 1000 beds. 3/8/21 

FROM CINDY
Mary, I am not familiar with on-line fundraisers where hospital gift shops receive a percent of the profits. I hope readers will be able to share regarding this questions.

Do you know of an online fundraiser? What’s your experience?

What do you think? Leave a comment here or at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated Mar 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.Mar 23-26, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Access. Market + Total Home & Gift Market
Apr 11-13, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
RESCHEDULED for
Apr 11-15, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Winter)
Jan 24-28, 2021
May 3-6, 2021
Atlanta Spring Cash & Carry
RESCHEDULED for
Jun 5-9, 2021
High Point Spring Market
Apr 17-20, 2021
Jun 6-7, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
Jun 9–12, 2021
June Atlanta Apparel
Jul 13-19, 2021
Atlanta Market (Summer)
Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show, Chicago, IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)
Jul 25-29, 2021
Aug 24-27, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer)
Sep 22-24, 2021
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Oct 5-6, 2021
Seattle Mart Fall Buying Event
Oct 13-15, 2021
October Atlanta Apparel Market
Oct 26-28, 2021
Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry
Oct 26-29, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Nov 1-3, 2021
Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Ocean City, MD
Dec 5-8, 2021
Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Myrtle Beach, SC
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

Q. What do you do with old inventory that is taking up space?

We host an annual clearance sale as well. Our store room is in the basement of the hospital so we have a $1-5 cart we put outside the door to move items as well. – Ginger Taylor, Cox Medical Center, Springfield, MO.  2/20/21

I manage a small hospital gift shop, and like everyone else, have “odds & ends” left over after each season. I create a “potluck” or themed basket, make it attractive and colorful. I use pretty paper and ribbons, so it’s seen as a “prize”, and raffle it off for $1 a ticket. Everyone sees it as a chance to get items to use later for gifts, or get things they just didn’t pick up for themselves. I take a picture, email it to all the departments, and watch those $1 tickets fly out the door! More times than not I not only recoup the costs of the items, but make a profit! The winner gets their picture taken with their prize, and is in the next email. It’s productive and great fun! – Susan Ingram, Gift Shop Coordinator, Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital, Phenix City, AL. 2/17/21

Thank you for this idea! – Holly Verbos, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey. 546 beds

A clearance sale or special of some sort. Maybe themed by a coming holiday or special day like a 25% off sale on the 25th day of the month. – Peter Waugh 2/17/21

If you have room to store it such as winter items, bring it back out in November and have a big sale. But only keep items from previous season. If you don’t have room to do this sell it drastically reduced for 6 weeks and donate what didn’t sell. We use Facebook and advertise our sales with pictures. – Debbie 2/16/21

I mark inventory that’s not moving down a couple of times and then leftovers are put in my annual “sidewalk” sale. I set up a conference room every September and mark these items to move. Employees look forward to this sale every year. I rarely have anything left. – Diane Honsberger 2/16/21

Very good solution, Diane! – Cindy

First, I get down to a 20, 30, 40, 50 dollar rack and if it still does not go, I donate it! – CC Cree 2/16/21

On 50 % off, do buy one get one.Makes 2 leave instead of 1. – Tricia Rochman, Pink Geranium Gift Shop, Carbondale. 65 beds. 2/16/21

Tricia, I agree with you 100%! – Cindy

We have a small clearance sale area in the back corner of our gift shop. Items are priced 30-70% off. The longer they sit, the deeper the discount. We usually donate the non selling items, but this year we held a $1.00 Sale. We put all items that we were planning donating on cart and sold each for $1.00. It was a great success and no one had to haul any boxes out to be donated! – B. Putnam, Coldwater, MI 2/16/21

Love the idea of a $1 sale! We always dread clearance items that still don’t sell and having to haul them to a donation station! It’s a win-win! – Staci, Methodist Texsan Hospital, San Antonio, TX. 200 beds 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
Read Cindy’s extended response in last month’s newsletter.

snoozies!® Face Coverings


SPONSOR

snoozies!® Face Coverings

snoozies!® three-layer cloth washable face coverings, are selling at a rapid clip in hospital stores around the country!
– Includes four filters
– Adult and children sizes/patterns
– Washable and reusable
– Comes with replacement filters
– Adjustable elastic ear-loop bands
– Flexible metal bridge for snug fit
– Over 20 print and solid designs
View our Face Covering Catalog or at snoozies.com!

252-650-7000
www.snoozies.com


Wholesaler Pick: The Coral Crab

The Coral Crab sources coastal, resort and lake-life product lines from woman or family owned businesses, made or finished in the USA. They curating best selling collections and prepacks that seamlessly go together. Their focus is quality, creative design, integrity and pricing. On Facebook  and Instagram


FEBRUARY 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #614
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • 2020 holiday sales exceed forecasts
  • Why high inventory equals lower gross margins
  • Hospital gift shop Christmas catalog
  • Create a ‘spend-worthy’ impression of your shop
  • SURVEY: Has your shop reopened?
  • Five strategies to smoothly handle a workplace confrontation
  • Which lines had the best customer service in 2020?
  • Creating an online store
  • Vendor for customer shopping bags
  • Magazine and book vendors
  • Financial reporting system
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences


DISCUSSION


CREATE AN ONLINE STORE

Q. We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job. Any other ideas? – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21 

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment.

Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website

For managers with an online shop, please let us know your experience on this hot topic.

Starting an online store is a high-interest topic right now! Share your experience, please.

Thank you!

COVID IMPACT

Cindy, we have been locked out of our Gift Shop since March 3, 2020. New merchandise sitting in stockroom with no promise of opening any time soon. Most volunteers have become discouraged and not interested in returning. – Vivian Metler, Charlevoix, MI. 40 beds. 1/21/21

Vivian, Thank you for sharing. So sorry to hear your shop is still closed. So many are experiencing the same as you. Or, even worse, a few shops have closed for good. This is so disheartening. – Cindy

This is Diana from Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital Gift Shop. We have been closed since March 2020! – Diana LaRose, Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital, Ste. Genevieve, MO. 53 beds. 2/17/21

Diana, sorry to hear your gift shop is still closed. It must be difficult. Early results from the poll show the majority of shops are “Open, reduced hours”. We hope you can reopen with reduced hours or, even fully reopen, soon! – Cindy


SHOPPING BAGS

Q. What vendors do others use for bags for customer purchases? We love having the “handled” bags, but feel the price per unit is eating away at our profits! I welcome any and all suggestions.  Thank you! – Darlene Brooks, Adventist Health 2/13/21

Nashville Wraps and S. Walter Packaging  – Gale Cialeo 2/18/21

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | February 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


FEBRUARY 15, 2021


2020 holiday sales exceed forecasts

by Cindy Jones, Editor and Publisher 💮

This past holiday season may show that you need to rewrite your sales goals and overhaul your operational strategies for 2021. Or, since the landscape is changing day to day, you may need to throw them out altogether and start over!

No doubt many of your customers embraced the gift-giving season as a way to cheer themselves up during a difficult pandemic time. Therefore, your holiday sales probably reflected typical pandemic trends, such as cooking, exercising at home, pet products and tackling DIY projects. Buyers have had to research for new vendors and products not typically ordered from in the past. It will be crucial to keep your finger on the pulse of your customer’s needs and, for yourself, emerging from the pandemic more resilient and agile than ever.

The 2020 holiday season grew an unexpectedly 8.3% over the same period in 2019, despite pandemic.

National Retail Federation. January 15, 2021

Record holiday season retail sales during the last two months of 2020 reflected the recovering economy but also got a boost from consumer emotions after a stressful year, Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for National Retail Federation said.

“This was not a typical holiday season and it took place amid an unprecedented shopping landscape,” Kleinhenz said. “When we assembled our 2020 holiday forecast, we knew one scenario was that results could come in high and that sales might exceed the forecast.”

The season’s 8.3% growth over the same period a year earlier was the highest holiday growth rate in records going back to 2002 – beating since 6.8% in 2004 – and more than double the 3.5% average of the previous five years, including 2019’s 4% gain.


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS

 

SURVEY: Has your shop reopened?

Are you open?! We hope to hear that more and more shops have reopened. Click below to take the survey and see the results.

Is your gift shop open, closed, or some variant?


Five strategies to smoothly handle a workplace confrontation

by Corey Weiner / Fast Company / Jan 15, 2021

Some situations at work urgently require a confrontation. Maybe it’s a gripe you have with your coworker, your boss, your neighbor, or even your spouse. But instead of confronting the problem, you ignore it. You rationalize away having the conversation by saying, “it’s not that big of a deal,”or “the confrontation will make it worse,” or “it’ll work itself out.”

Instead, the problem festers and grows, until you’re reading into every text, email, and Slack message for proof that the person has it out for you. And yes, the act of confronting someone can be awkward, uncomfortable, and stressful. For these reasons many people avoid confrontations altogether. As the CEO of a growing company, I see confrontations as one of the most important ways to maintain positivity and productivity at work, and at home. Here are a few strategies for making your next confrontation a success.

Don’t sugarcoat things
One of the simplest ways to begin a confrontation is to acknowledge that it will be uncomfortable. It seems counterintuitive, since you would think keeping things as positive as possible would only help, but doing so actually hurts your chances of success. When you begin your conversation with compliments and kind words, the person on the other end winds up waiting for your inevitable but. Starting the conversation off directly, without wrapping it in rosy prose, sets the scene for a more open dialogue about the problem at hand.

By preparing someone with the knowledge the conversation will be difficult, you tell the person what to expect and let them know you would like to address areas that are important to you. For example, consider starting the conversation by saying, “I wanted to talk to you about something important to me. I’ve been avoiding this conversation for a long time, and I’m hoping you can let me finish my thoughts before you interject.” These opening sentences establish the intent of your conversation and also make it clear that you would like the opportunity to speak without interruption.

Use “I,” instead of “you” or “we,” statements
Putting someone on the defensive will only hurt your confrontation. When someone is in a defensive state, they are thinking solely of protecting themselves and deflecting shots in their direction. This state of mind is not conducive to active listening, which will make it impossible for your conversation to be successful. Instead, phrase everything you say with “I” and avoid needlessly incendiary language.

For example, don’t tell someone that, “You didn’t listen to me and deliberately ignored what I said—despite how satisfying that might feel—because their response to that language will be to fight instead of listen. Instead, rephrase and appeal to emotion by saying, “The way our meeting went made me feel like my opinion didn’t matter to you.”

You should also avoid “we” statements. These types of statements imply you’re having conversations about the person behind their back. Keep your conversation between you and the other person, without referencing or scapegoating other individuals. For example, “We are all unhappy with your tardiness” is not effective, while “I have been unhappy you have been late” is a much more constructive statement.

Stick to the facts, not emotions
The easiest mistake you can make in a confrontation is slipping from purely factual content to opinions derived from your emotions. Remember, emotions are not facts. Let’s say you’re upset with someone for being consistently late to a meeting. It’s effective to say: “You were late on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of this week. That is unacceptable and has to change,” rather than, “it’s clear you don’t care about being on time because you’re always late.” Stick to the facts, and you’ll find your confrontations going much more smoothly.

An important side note: If the person you are talking to disputes some of your facts, don’t get defensive yourself. Listen to them and be willing to accept that you may be wrong about one or more of the facts while still being correct about the issue at hand.

Control meeting hijacking
People are quite good at deflecting to avoid addressing issues head-on. For example, the person could get emotional and pivot to talking about a personal issue. When this happens, the natural tendency is for you to go into “soothing” mode and comfort the person and talk about that personal issue with them in the moment. Resist that temptation, reinforce the reason for the conversation, and offer to speak about their personal issue another time. Remember: this confrontation is your conversation. Listen intently and don’t interrupt the person venting, but make sure to get back on track and take control of the conversation to ensure you get out of it what you needed.

It’s worth noting that some confrontations get emotional. In the rare situation that someone gets very temperamental, angry, starts crying and/or lashes out, offer to reschedule the conversation for another date or time where the person can be calm and focused.

Keep in mind the relationship
The entire point of having a confrontation is to get to a better, more productive place in your relationship with the person. Be clear about what bothers you, what your expectations are for the future, and let the person respond and commit to what you’re looking for.

Navigating confrontations successfully is an art form. The amazing thing about them, however, is if you use these tools and techniques, you will be more consistently happy, positive, and productive in and outside of work.

SOURCE: Fast Company

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


Hospital gift shop Christmas catalog

Regarding the article, How two shops are driving sales through COVID (Dec 2020): 

In addition to the COVID strategy discussed in the article, we used the down time to self-publish our first ever Hospital Gift Shop Christmas Catalog!

Although it took a little time, we were able to use a preexisting template from Lucid Press and take all the photographs ourselves. It actually was a lot of fun too!

Our customers loved it! We backed up the release of the catalog with a featured catalog item email each day during the two weeks before Christmas. We always included the link to the full catalog. This provided us the perfect way to promote our gift shop during the holidays. – Lee Patterson, Ascension St. Vincent’s, Birmingham, AL. 400 beds. 1/27/21

2020 Christmas Catalog from St. Vincent’s Hospital Gift Shop

High inventory equals lower gross margins

Q. What does everyone do with old inventory taking up space? I usually give mine a two-year cycle and hold a “Christmas in July” sale and mark things way down. But, there are just some things that don’t move. Do you donate them? If so, where do you donate them? – Julie Jacobs, CAVS, Grand Lake Health System, Volunteer Development Coordinator, Saint Marys, OH

FROM CINDY
Yup, nothing looks worse and hurts business more than leftover remnants of dusty, out trending, post-seasonal items on store shelves. Studies show that the approximate cost of holding excess inventory is 30% annually. So, you must move it out, quickly. 

How HIGH INVENTORY results in a LOWER GROSS MARGIN
You typically have travel costs to make the purchase.
You have freight costs.
You have to unpack it, price it and display it.
You have to track it and store it. 
The merchandise occupies valuable shelf space.
There may have been some external or internal theft.
Old inventory goes out of style and just sits, blocking room for new inventory that sells.
You have put time and effort into reducing overstocking issues.

Here’s how it works. Say you have $100,000 worth of inventory (at cost) and 10% of it is not moving.

$100,000 inventory x 10% excess = $10,000 in excess inventory
$10,000 excess inventory x 30% = $3,000 annual waste in expenses

So, when you hold more inventory than you need, you’ll have a lower gross margin. A good POS can help avoid getting in the overstock position. The system will tell you when you are.

Successfully balancing inventory comes up a lot in our newsletter. It’s one of the most essential practices in retail operations. Yes, it’s that critical. 

What do you do with inventory taking up space?

Are the comments helpful? Then do your part and leave a comment here or at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated Feb 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.Feb 26-28, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market **by appointment only
Mar 3-5, 2021
Atlanta Spring Mini Market
Mar 23-26, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Access. Market + Total Home & Gift Market
Apr 11-13, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
RESCHEDULED for
Apr 11-15, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Winter)
Jan 24-28, 2021
May 3-6, 2021
Atlanta Spring Cash & Carry
RESCHEDULED for
Jun 5-9, 2021
High Point Spring Market
Apr 17-20, 2021
Jun 6-7, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
Jun 9–12, 2021
June Atlanta Apparel
Jul 13-19, 2021
Atlanta Market (Summer)
Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show Chicago IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)

Jul 25-29, 2021
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

Q. Which lines had the best customer service in 2020?

Last month we asked readers which lines had the best customer service in 2020. Who stepped up to the plate and helped you get through a rough 2020! What made their customer service a standout amongst the challenges of COVID? 

Evergreen company for 2020.  I had to change lots of items and not take them due to our shut down. they made me feel amazing! – Tricia Rochman, Pink Geranium Gift Shop, Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Carbondale, IL. 55 bed. 1/21/21

I vote for Demdaco having the best customer service because I have rarely had any issues with product defects, but when I do they are very prompt in getting it corrected! – Christina Blaskie, Parkview Health in Fort Wayne, IN. 1/18/21

GANZ – Victoria is on top of things. She lets me know what is amazing and what is a dud in her catalog. She lets me know trends and what is different for our area. – Tricia Rochman, Pink Geranium Gift Shop, Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Carbondale, IL. 55 bed. 1/21/21

snoozies!® Face Coverings


SPONSOR

snoozies!® Face Coverings

snoozies!® three-layer cloth washable face coverings, are selling at a rapid clip in hospital stores around the country!
– Includes four filters
– Adult and children sizes/patterns
– Washable and reusable
– Comes with replacement filters
– Adjustable elastic ear-loop bands
– Flexible metal bridge for snug fit
– Over 20 print and solid designs
View our Face Covering Catalog or at snoozies.com!

252-650-7000
www.snoozies.com


Create a ‘spend-worthy’ impression of your shop

QUIZ
‘Must haves’ for creating a positive impression of your shop
The shop is c __ __ __ __.
The shop is n __ __ __ and o __ __ __ __ __ __ .
The shop is  fully  s __ __ __ __ __ __ with no empty or half-filled units.
The merchandise is d __ __ __ __ __ __ _ __ and easy to shop.
Merchandise is f __ __ __ __ and current.
The shop has an up __ __ __ __ atmosphere.
The shop  l __ __ __ __ __ __ __ is good.
The shop’s t __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __  is comfortable.
The shop has well-trained and friendly s __ __ __ __ .
S __ __ __ __ are concise, grammatically correct, and professional.
P __ __ __ __ __ __ __ are posted and consistently followed.
Answers at end of this article

Your shop should be a place where patients, visitor and employees can escape from the IV’s, pandemics, and smell of antiseptics. Stepping foot inside should be an exceptional experience in their day. Now, you have 10-14 seconds to do it! What?

First impressions are everything and those customers are like hamsters. They’ll pan your shop, look around at eye level, and create a first  impression instantaneously. It takes shoppers:

• 2.5 seconds to decide if they are going to enter your shop; 
• 2 more seconds to form an opinion, after entering;
• the next 10 seconds to decide if they are going to stay or walk!

Create a ‘spend-worthy’ impression of your shop

TURN OFFS! 🔥 TURN ONS! 🎉

Poor lighting, eye-cringing fluorescents
Dirty carpeting
Disorder, cluttered
Dusty shelves, fixtures, merchandise
Mixed, unrelated merchandise, no theme
Too hot or too cold shop
Musky odor
Too much signage
Unpriced items

Bright, soft lighting (lamps), underlights, mirrors
Clean, neutral carpeting
Bright and cheery
Clean, organized
Easy traffic pattern
Defined isles, just like a yellow brick road
ADA accessible
Easy to shop, departmentalized
Candy up front for quick purchase, sale rack at the back.

Good displays make a statement! They grab your attention. Effective displays are eye candy that entertain and delight our senses. They’ve never been more important!

On average, 50% of the sales floor is never seen because shoppers tend to come in, find a specific item, purchase, and leave. Displays should be designed to move customers through the entire shop, luring them from one area to the next.

Displays have artistic demands to them. Some people have an artistic eye and some don’t. It’s just how we humans are built. If you are not artistic, best to focus on what you do excel at and bring in someone with the skills you need. It takes a team, after all. Assign a staff or volunteer who’s artistic to outright design, or at least review, designs with their artistic eye. 

Themed displays have a theme or thread of commonality like color, material, style, or motif. Combined merchandise should make sense to the customer. Step back and check that the display is not cluttered nor too sparse. Shop lighting should highlight the display. 

10 Display Rules

  1. Group related items together.
  2. Use one tall item to anchor the display.
  3. Place taller items at the back.
  4. Arrange items in groups of three or more.
  5. Create a focal point and work around it.
  1. Display in various heights and depths by using risers.
  2. Add pizzazz! Be creative! Be bold!
  3. Use well-positioned spotlighting.
  4. Big items should sell the smaller items.
  5. Amuse, don’t confuse.

Intoxicate your customer with a unique retail environment that invigorates a sensory experience and stimulates their personal desires to buy.

Answers:  1. Clean 2. Neat and orderly 3. Stocked 4. Departmentalized 5. Fresh 6. Updated 7. Lighting 8. Temperature 9. Staff 10. Signs  11. Policies  12. Fixtures


JANUARY 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #613
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • Good riddance 2020. Hello 2021!
  • Product Pick: Laughter
  • The new year’s resolution paradox
  • Job Openings
  • Best vendors of 2020: VOTE!
  • 10 best products for nurses and doctors
  • Finding best sellers in current times
  • Tips for achieving customer service excellence
  • Standard merchandise markups
  • Coordinating multi-location shops
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


CREATE AN ONLINE STORE

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job. Any other ideas? – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY, 130 beds. 2/9/21 

How do you manage your online shop?

Hey, do you have an online store? We want to hear from you. Leave a comment here or at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

COVID IMPACT

Cindy, we have been locked out of our Gift Shop since March 3, 2020. New merchandise sitting in stockroom with no promise of opening any time soon. Most volunteers have become discouraged and not interested in returning. – Vivian Metler, Charlevoix, MI. 40 beds. 1/21/21

FROM CINDY: Thank you for sharing. So sorry to hear your shop is still closed. So many are experiencing the same as you. Or, even worse, a few shops have closed for good. This is so disheartening.


SHOPPING BAGS

What vendors do others use for bags for customer purchases? We love having the “handled” bags, but feel the price per unit is eating away at our profits! I welcome any and all suggestions.  Thank you! – Darlene Brooks, Adventist Health 2/13/21

What vendors do you use for customer shopping bags?

Comments make the world go around…and helps everyone run their shops better!

Now, click the green comment thingy and type away!

PRODUCTS PICKS: LAUGHTER IN 2021

Q. Can you share where you found the products in last month’s article Product Picks: Laughter is the best medicine for welcoming 2021? Your newsletter is so helpful, and take something from each issue. Thank you.  – Lisa Rasmussen, Brookings Health System, Brookings. 49 beds. 1/19/21

FROM CINDY: Hi Lisa, we assembled the list by doing a targeted web search and selecting the ‘stand out’ products. Would it be helpful to describe the search method in detail or were you wondering if these were from a specific distributor? Thank you for your question, your feedback, and all the helpful comments through the years!


MAGAZINES, PAPERBACK BOOKS

 Q. Are there any shops that still selling magazines or paperback books? If so, who is your supplier? Is it worth the time and space? – J. N. Mitchell, While Lake, MI. 1/28/21

Who is your magazine or paperback supplier and do they do well selling?

Right about now is where you leave a comment – here or at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thanks,
Your Fellow Gift Shop Manager!

FINANCIAL REPORTING SYSTEM

I have a problem producing a financial report, because we have so many departments in our gift shop. I have someone who is a retired controller from a very well known company who has helped me. I am a very creative person but not a number cruncher. My question is, how can I get an easy system to make a financial report that I can that understand and not take up all my time? – Anonymous. 2/1/21

What financial reporting system do you recommend?

BABY APPAREL VENDOR

Q. I manage a gift shop in a 99-bed facility and we deliver babies. What vendors offer baby apparel that sells well? Thank you – Patty Cummings, Inventory Procurement Specialist, Fisher-Titus Medical Center, Norwalk, OH. 9/28/20

There were over 16 baby apparel vendors recommended by readers last month! Thank you to everyone who commented. Hearing directly from others, first hand, is invaluable to everyone running a shop! 🎉


PROMOTIONS


My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

SPONSOR

MY GARDEN OF FLOWERS
Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

This award-winning beautifully illustrated book,
My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,
by Dr. Manjeet Kaur is perfect for the hospital gift shop!

This invaluable resource for worried families

gives parents knowledge and reassurance
that their critically ill infants will typically
grow to adulthood and lead normal, healthy lives.

© Cindy Jones Associates, 2020. COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. Redistribution, copying, reselling, re-renting, or republishing is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Cindy’s Newsletter may not to be forwarded, redistributed, reproduced, reprinted, or posted online without prior permission from Cindy Jones Associates. Subscribers may share one issue with a fellow manager. Thereafter, the manager may subscribe here to receive future issues.

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | January 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


JANUARY 15, 2021


Good riddance 2020. 🧻 Hello 2021! 🎉

I sure do love retailing! Here you are, already buying 2021 holiday merchandise. Whew! It never ends, does it? And, now, after pandemic fatigue, you will need to find the mental energy to bounce back and recover in the face of new challenges. Think of 2021 as the second wave requiring perseverance and endurance.

100 Things to Do After Quarantine Scratch-Off Poster, Firebox.com

It has been a heavy year!
Looking back, 2020 offered products slanted towards localism, handmade, connecting to nature and well-being. That’s a good thing. Our “well being” was greatly tested.

I worry about all the stressed hospital retail managers around the country that are furloughed because their hospital is closed to visitors or because hospital beds are being moved into their shops due to lack of space. Who would have guessed that hospital gift shops would be housing patients like those in Los Angelos.

I know many of you personally and I have seen your resilience to change and your ability to find solutions to new issues. Now, more than ever, as shop managers, you will have to be nimble and focus on your customer’s wants and needs in 2021.

If we are not confident that we have the necessary abilities, we risk getting paralyzed or subjected to forces beyond our control. Managing your own mind and deciding to take charge of your destiny (and helping others do the same) is where you find mental strength for the last mile.

Looking forward, 2021 certainly promises to be a year of hope and transition. Let’s go!


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS

 

Product Pick: Laughter

Let’s face it, 2020 has been a less than joyful year. Going into 2021, shoppers are going to connect with products that bring humor and joy into their lives. A basic rule of marketing is to evoke emotion. What better emotion than laughter, sorely needed now more than ever. Bring humor into your shop however you can through signage, products, music, grab-a-joke box at the register or any other creative ways to get them smiling!

Laughter is the best medicine for welcoming 2021!

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


The new year’s resolution paradox

by Cindy Jones, Editor 💮

I have been thinking that making New Year’s resolutions is a paradox! If I had the discipline to keep resolutions, I probably wouldn’t need to make them in the first place! 😄

But setting goals rather than resolutions is different! They are not a heavy chain around our neck! Instead, they are a bright, new challenge. Resolutions are forever, you are not supposed to gain weight, smoke or live off your Visa card ever again.

But goals, aha! They last only as long as it takes to meet them and then set the next one, like organize your files, run a 6-minute mile, write a book, master a celestial chocolate cake, prepare a shop budget for 2021 and so on.

Have you set your goals for 2021?

Do you have a vision for your shop?
What you would like to be or become?
What you would like to have or own?
What you would like to do or create?
What you would like to contribute or give back to society?



Best vendors of 2020: Vote!

Best Customer Service

Demdaco, Melrose, Vera Bradley, FAIRE, Yankee, Enesco, Brighton, Ganz, Roman, Evergreen, Two’s Company, Lampe Berger, Caren, CAUS, Demdaco, Jane Marie, Magnolia Lane, Mary Square, Mud Pie, P. Graham Dunn, SmashDiscount, Bridgewater Candle Company, Greenleaf, Woodstock Chimes, Poo-Pourri, Avanti, OneCoast, Northern Lights…

Comment below to add your favorite!

Vendor of the Year 2020!

Mud Pie, Yankee, snoozies!, Grasslands Road, Cutieful, Brighton, Burton & Burton, Demdaco, Melrose, Enesco, Northern Lights, Two’s Company, Lampe Berger, Caren, CAUS, Demdaco, Jane Marie, Magnolia Lane, P. Graham Dunn, SmashDiscount, Evergreen, Bridgewater Candle Company, Greenleaf, Woodstock Chimes, Simply Noelle, Life is Good….

Comment below to add your favorite!

Which lines has the best customer service and why?
What vendors went above and beyond in a tough 2020?


💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated Jan 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.Jan 19 -23, 2021
Seattle Mart Winter Show
Jan 12-19, 2021
Atlanta Market (Winter)
Jan 19-22, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
Jan 31–Feb 3, 2021
Midwest Gift & Lifestyle Show, Des Plaines, IL
VIRTUAL SHOW
Feb 1–3, 2021
Faire Virtual Winter Market
VIRTUAL SHOW
Feb 4-12, 2021
NY NOW Digital Winter Market
Feb 2-6, 2021
Atlanta Apparel Market
CANCELLED
Feb 7-10, 2021
NY NOW (Winter), New York
Feb 18-21, 2021
TransWorld’s Jewelry, Fashion & Acces Show (Winter), Rosemont, IL
Feb 26-28, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
Mar 3-5, 2021
Atlanta Spring Mini Market
Mar 23-26, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Access. Market + Total Home & Gift Market
Apr 11-13, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
RESCHEDULED for
Apr 11-15, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Winter)
Jan 24-28, 2021
May 3-6, 2021
Atlanta Spring Cash & Carry
RESCHEDULED for
Jun 5-9, 2021
High Point Spring Market
Apr 17-20, 2021
Jun 6-7, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
Jun 9–12, 2021
June Atlanta Apparel
Jul 13-19, 2021
Atlanta Market (Summer)
Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show Chicago IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)

Jul 25-29, 2021
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

10 great products for doctors and nurses


Dear Cindy,

Thank you for the Newsletter! I really appreciate your words of wisdom, especially during this 2020 year. We have been closed to visitors for many months. The surveys on what is going on around the country made me aware that what we are doing is about the same. However, being in a hospital gift shop is like being all alone on an island! No one has the answers to the questions we have.

We are learning who buys what kind merchandise. Angels are not selling because they are usually purchased by visitors to give to patients. So, without visitors, angels are just not selling! It makes sense but who would have guessed? Magazines and flowers also are not selling well.

We are grateful every day for our hospital staff as they support us. No doubt we will have many stories on the year 2020 and what we did to get through it. I appreciate the answers and encouragement you have provided. Blessings in the New Year!  – Mary Robinson, Gift Shop Coordinator, Mayo Clinic, Mankato, MN


Finding best sellers in current times

Q. With markets cancelled and travel limited due to COVID-19, how do you find best sellers and hot products??

Last month we asked readers how they are navigating the buying process with so many markets being cancelled. Thanks for everyone who commented.  Leave your feedback below! 

FAIRE has worked great for us! – Carolyn Green  12/21/20

From my reps, catalogs and emails. – Rosemary Tortorice, Carteret Hospital, Morehead City, NC. 135 bed. 12/17/20

Web search, PPP, vendors, Gifts Shop Mag – Karla G 12/17/20

I’m a new manager, so I haven’t had an opportunity to discover my best sellers yet. We are a PPP member, I get the newsletter and also the Gift Shop magazine; hopefully those will be where I discover best sellers. Thank you Cindy! – Chris, Gift Shop Manager, St Vincent Hospital 12/17/20

Instagram – Allison 12/17/20

Allison, what handles are you following to see this?? Thanks! – Ali McCrary, Gifts and More Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 12/18/20

I have done vendor appointments through Zoom or other online meeting sites. Either both of us look at the website together or they send me a link where we look at catalogs together. This works out very well! I have also discovered FAIRE, which is like having an online market to shop. They represent some brands that we already purchase from, but I have found several new lines as well by shopping with them.  – Betty Beck, Duncan Regional Hospital Gift Shop, Duncan, OK. 110 beds. 12/16/20

Gift markets, other gift shop managers – Nancy 12/15/20

Our vendor reps are doing product showcases over Zoom! – Janet Webber 12/15/20

How are you learning about and discovering best sellers right now, outside of going to markets?

We need to hear from you! Don’t just take; give back. Do your part and leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!


Tips for achieving customer service excellence

  • Be alert and attentive to the presence of a customer, even when you’re busy with other tasks.
  • Move out of a customer’s way when they want to shop the display you are working on.
    Mather Hospital Gift Shop, Port Jefferson, NY

    Mather Hospital Gift Shop, Port Jefferson, NY

  • Use eye contact and a pleasant smile to greet customers: avoid cliches like “May I help you?”
  • Know the features and benefits of the merchandise, then you will be comfortable discussing and making helpful suggestions about it.
  • Watch for customers with too much to carry. Offer to set aside their packages so they are free to continue shopping.
  • Personally investigate when a customer cannot find a particular item, rather than pointing the direction. If you cannot find the item, then suggest an alternative.
  • Answer the phone with a simple greeting and the name of your store.
  • Don’t let telephone calls cause a customer to wait on you. Ask the caller if they can hold until you finish helping your customer. If it is a personal call, arrange to call back later.

snoozies!® Face Coverings


SPONSOR

snoozies!® Face Coverings

snoozies!® three-layer cloth washable face coverings, are selling at a rapid clip in hospital stores around the country!
– Includes four filters
– Adult and children sizes/patterns
– Washable and reusable
– Comes with replacement filters
– Adjustable elastic ear-loop bands
– Flexible metal bridge for snug fit
– Over 20 print and solid designs
View our Face Covering Catalog or at snoozies.com!

252-650-7000
www.snoozies.com


Standard merchandise markups

Should we consider pricing our merchandise a bit over keystone? When merchandise comes in ticketed with Manufacturers Suggested Price (MSP) which is above keystone, do you try to sell at those prices or do you re-ticket to keystone?  – Sarah

STANDARD MARKUPS BY CATEGORY

Gifts, toys, apparel, cards, plush. baby, accessoriesCandy & sundries
Double price + 6-10% for shipping 
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.5 or more
30-33% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.4 or more
**Higher for specialty candy
JewelryFlowers
60-70% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.4 or more
**Most jewelry comes pre-priced.
33-35% markup   
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.5 or more
Think twice about ordering heavy items that cost a lot to ship. Always take a higher markup when an item warrants it. Ask for a shipping cap of 20% on your orders. Ask your reps for freight allowances. Consider the shippers location. Mention to reps no back orders. Watch for high handling fees. Avoid small, interim orders.
inventory

Old merchandise sitting in a stockroom is paying “rent.” As each day passes, the “rent” becomes greater than its value.

When something does not move, move it out!


Job Openings

Gift Shop Manager
Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital, Torrance, CA

Gift Shop Retail Manager
Monarch Casino Resort, Black Hawk, CO
$45,000 – $55,000

Operations Manager, Gift Shops – Auxiliary
New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington, NC
$32,000 – $34,000

Gift Thrift Shop Clerk
Hackensack Meridian Health, Red Bank, NJ

Retail Services Supervisor
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA

Gift Shop Sales Associate
Riverside Medical Center, Kankakee, IL

Gift Shop Supervisor
Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines, IA

Gift Shop Supervisor
Nicklaus Children’s Health System, Miami, FL

Retail Coordinator
Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, TX

Gift Shop Manager
New Britain General, New Britain, CT

Retail Shift Supervisor
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA


DECEMBER 2020 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #612
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

COVID-19 can’t cancel the holidays!
SURVEY: Where do you find best sellers?
Product Pick: Nodpod
How two shops are driving sales through COVID
Q. How do multi-site shops coordinate purchasing, deliveries, and accounting?

  • How to conduct a physical inventory
  • December to January Checklist
  • From our readers: recommended baby apparel vendors
  • Comments: Replacing volunteers with paid staff
  • Virtual tradeshows and online showrooms
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


BABY APPAREL VENDOR

Q. I manage a gift shop in a 99-bed facility and we deliver babies. What vendors offer baby apparel that sells well? Thank you – Patty Cummings, Inventory Procurement Specialist, Fisher-Titus Medical Center, Norwalk, OH. 9/28/20

There were over 16 baby apparel vendors recommended by readers last month! Thank you to everyone who commented. Hearing directly from others, first hand, is invaluable to everyone running a shop! 🎉


COORDINATING MULTI-SITE SHOPS

For hospital systems that have more than one gift shop location, how do you coordinate ordering, delivery, and accounting for all locations? How is the department itself set up? Are all of the financials separated? – Shea Parazine, Volunteer Services Specialist, White County Medical Center, Searcy, AR. 193 beds

Do you manage more than one gift shop? How do you coordinate operations among them? <– Click to comment!

We need to hear from you! Don’t just take; give back. Do your part and leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

CAN PAID STAFF ALSO VOLUNTEER

Q. I understand the rule that a volunteer can’t be paid for the same job that they are volunteering for. You can have separate paid staff and volunteers work together though. It’s done in many hospital gift shops. But, where you can run into a problem is if a paid staff member is asked to volunteer their time doing the same duties that they are normally paid for. Is that correct? – A gift shop manager  10/12/20

FROM CINDY: OSHA does not regulate the use of volunteers, however,  FLSA laws do. FLSA regulations state that a paid employee cannot volunteer (or be required to volunteer) for the same organization to do the same job in which he/she is paid to do. This means that your paid employee cashier who works three days a week cannot be expected to work a fourth day without compensation and be called a “volunteer” on that day. People who volunteer their services for charitable or civic causes without expectation of compensation can do the same job as a paid employee and they can work together in the workspace as paid employees. This rule applies for non-profit organizations. For-profit organizations cannot use volunteers. For-profit organizations can develop internships that are time-delineated and have specific learning outcomes and sometimes a modest monetary compensation associated with them (such as, work-study students). Shop managers can meet with the hospital volunteer resources manager to help clarify the engagement of volunteers from their legal department.

Here’s to all volunteers. Those dedicated people who believe in all work and no pay. 


NET PROFIT MARGIN

Q. I recall that in one of your Newsletters you gave a “net profit benchmark” figure for hospital gift shops. It was like a 30% or 35% profit margin. Is that still accurate? Thanks! – Shop Manager, Volunteer Manager, Tulsa, OK. 11/3/20

FROM CINDY: Maintaining a good profit margin is the key to success. A shop may have very high sales, but if their net profit is low, something is eating up the profits along the way. It could be: high salary expenses, high cost of goods, or high operating costs and markdowns. A good manager must keep these factors in control.

An all-volunteer operated shop should achieve at least a 25% of gross sales net profit margin.

The net profit margin percent should be higher in an all-volunteer operated shop than in a shop with a paid manager due to salary expenses. A shop with a paid manager should realize at least a 20% of the gross sales net profit margin.


PROMOTIONS


My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

SPONSOR

MY GARDEN OF FLOWERS
Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

This award-winning beautifully illustrated book,
My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,
by Dr. Manjeet Kaur is perfect for the hospital gift shop!

This invaluable resource for worried families

gives parents knowledge and reassurance
that their critically ill infants will typically
grow to adulthood and lead normal, healthy lives.

© Cindy Jones Associates, 2020. COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. Redistribution, copying, reselling, re-renting, or republishing is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Cindy’s Newsletter may not to be forwarded, redistributed, reproduced, reprinted, or posted online without prior permission from Cindy Jones Associates. Subscribers may share one issue with a fellow manager. Thereafter, the manager may subscribe here to receive future issues.

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | December 15, 2020 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER

for

Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter provides its readership of over 3,000 gift shop professionals “actionable content” to help optimize their shop operation, grow revenue, and connect with one another. LEAVE A COMMENT: Click the colored comment tags throughout the newsletter or email Cindy at cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com


DECEMBER 15, 2020

 

COVID-19 can’t cancel the holidays!

COVID-19 is playing on shoppers’ psyches as they weigh its impact on their health and finances. But as we’ve seen with previous periods of recession, as well as those of growth, consumers are resilient and will adjust their habits to adapt. So, have faith that the remainder of 2020 will be positive and look towards 2021 to be the best year ever! 

Me with my daughters, Tracy and Nicole. 

To our loyal subscribers:

Today is a good day to say “thank you”…
Thank you for being one of our valued subscribers.
Thank you for telling others about my Newsletter.
Thank you for trusting me to deliver valuable content to you.
Thank you for all your wonderful comments and responses.
Thank you for clicking on the recommended links.
Thank you for being YOU!

Wishing you a most joyous 2021 full of abounding love, renewed connections, and moments that fill your soul!

– Cindy


SPONSOR

QUICKCHARGE POS

Quickcharge POS provides all of the point of sale features
you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS

 

SURVEY: Where do you find best sellers?

Where do you go to discover the current best sellers and hottest products? Results from our ongoing survey indicate:

Survey Results 2020.12.15 Where do you go to discover best sellers?
Other: Vendor reps, trade publications, Purchasing Power Plus, FAIRE, and word of mouth. 

Q. With markets cancelled and travel limited due to COVID-19, how do you find best sellers and hot products?

<– Click to comment

Product Pick: Nodpod

For the exhausted doctors, nurses, and, frankly, just about anyone! Here’s a product that recently came across our desk. Nodpods would be great to sell in hospital gift shops.

Nodpod’s lay softly across your head to apply gentle, evenly distributed pressure for a comforting fit and soothing experience. The NodPod is like a hug for the head. One side features a cooling jersey cotton which can be placed in the freezer, the other a warm microfiber. The product is designed to lay freely over the eyes and can also be secured with a pull-through slit. It contours to the face for total light-blocking comfort. (nodpod.com)

 

ncr pos point of sale system

SPONSOR

i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

887-809-9980
www.i3pos.com/retail


How two shops are driving sales through COVID

Gift Shop Magazine recently wrote about two hospital gift shops and how they are coping through COVID. These shops are using new and creative methods to “remain relevant to their customers” and adjusting their store operations to accommodate the new “normal”. Kudos to the shop managers and volunteers!

St. Vincent’s Hospital Gift Shop, Birmingham, AL

St. Vincent’s Hospital Gift Shop, located in Birmingham, Alabama is part of Ascension Health and never stopped selling to its customers during the pandemic. Instead it found creative ways to continue to provide what its customers needed. Lee Patterson, retail services manager for St. Vincent’s Hospital Gift Shop, shared how adaptations to operations allowed it to continue with business, albeit in a different way. “Even though we closed completely — only for a few short weeks — our hospital remains closed to visitors. As a result, our current sales volume is one-third of our expected sales volume,” noted Patterson.

Since the hospital is closed to visitors, the staff found ways to communicate and merchandise. “We utilize posters around the hospital and send ‘everyone’ emails that reach our entire staff,” Patterson said. “Emails are successful and have been, even before all this. We cannot use social media to advertise the gift shop.”

“Since most hospital gift shops give all, or most, of their proceeds back to the hospital — and have no overhead — it is expected that our mark-ups are usually not on par with a competitor. It is our hospital’s opinion that if we advertise and uncut our competitors pricing, and there was a complaint, we could jeopardize our tax-free status,” Patterson explained.

Overall COVID-19 has impacted St. Vincent’s Gift Shop’s business in several ways. “We have to limit the number of customers in the shop at any given time. We maintain social distancing, must wear masks (hospital mandate) and use plexi-screens at the registers,” Patterson said. “We allow clothing to be tried on in store, but are not allowing any clothing returns at this time.”

When the retail shop was closed, it still offered purchases through email and by phone with a credit card. “We bagged and placed items for pick up outside our door for ‘touchless’ delivery. In delivering to a patient in the hospital we now only deliver to the nurses station, and do not deliver to any restricted areas,” shared Patterson. The store was rearranged — some fixtures were removed as well as displays — to accommodate social distancing guidelines. “We have already begun discussions about limiting the amount of Christmas merchandising, trees and displays to maintain hospital guidelines,” described Patterson.

For inventory control, Patterson has relied on current sales volume stats as a guide for purchasing and has adjusted to handle the new “normal.” She has learned that things can change on a daily basis.

So, what is the biggest challenge St. Vincent’s Gift Shop has faced during the pandemic? “Trying to remain relevant to our customers. Hospitals are not in the top places to shop right now!,” emphasized Patterson.

Although the brick-and-mortar store is “different” in this new retail climate, it still has its best-sellers. According to Patterson, there are three categories — ladies ready-to-wear department, baby boutique, food and beverages — that top the list in terms of volume. Its best vendors are Mud Pie, EASEL, Burton + Burton, Kellis and DM Merchandising. “Take one day at a time. Be glad that you are healthy. We are thankful everyday that we work for an organization that cares about our well-being and that is able to sustain our jobs,” Patterson advised.

SOURCE: “Ascension St. Vincent’s Hospital Gift Shop” by Debbie Eisele, Gift Shop Magazine

HSHS St. Vincent Gift Shop, Green Bay, WI

Mary Ann Brunett, manager, volunteer services, HSHS St. Vincent Gift Shop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, discussed how the pandemic has affected its retail business and how it has handled operating in such challenging times. Brunett shared that as of the writing of this article, the store has been closed to shoppers since March 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the onset of the virus and closures, the gift store has been unable to operate. “We are waiting for approval to open, even if on a limited basis to colleagues only,” Brunett said.

According to Brunett, communication with shoppers via social media, emails, or other forms of marketing has been nonexistent since the closure of the retail environment. Although the store had been closed to visitors, the staff was not idle. “We have done inventory, purged expired items and cleaned,” shared Brunett. She also shared that all buying activity occurred in January and as of the publishing of this article, the store had not yet restocked.

Brunett noted some of the other HSHS hospital gift shops opened for business in late August for takeout services for colleagues and volunteers only. Retail locations allow staff and volunteers to order with a payroll deduction or credit card, via phone or email, then purchases can be picked up.

“We are giving 35% off until Dec. 30, 2020 at all three shops,” she said. “We also created a catalog of clothing and purses.

We got the idea from the Purchasing Power Plus group newsletter — they featured a hospital in Pennsylvania.”“We gave all our candy bars, soda and chips to the colleagues as a thank you and with an announcement of the takeout concept,” Brunett elaborated. When asked what the biggest challenge the store faced in the current retail climate, Brunett said: “We have not gotten permission to open due to the risk of spreading the virus.”

Brunett advised: “Prepare as much as you can while you are not open, look at online sales. You also need to work with Infection Prevention and Administration and take cues from them.”

SOURCE: “HSHS St. Vincent Gift Shop” by Debbie Eisele, Gift Shop Magazine



Q. How do multi-site shops coordinate purchasing, deliveries, and accounting?

I want to say thank you for all the effort you put into the newsletter. It’s been a huge resource for my department. I have a question for other shop managers:

For hospital systems that have more than one gift shop location, how do you coordinate ordering, delivery, and accounting for all locations? How is the department itself set up? Are all of the financials separated? – Shea Parazine, Volunteer Services Specialist, White County Medical Center, Searcy, AR. 193 beds

<– Click to comment

Virtual Tradeshows and Online Showrooms

NY NOW Digital Market
October 3 – December 31, 2020 
NY NOW Digital Market was developed to enable brands and retailers to pivot from the in-person event to a digital environment while ensuring a premium, interactive user experience. Retailers can expect enhanced search capabilities across product categories, communities, and trends; best-in-class digital functionality including video calls and appointment setting; and a machine learning layer that curates personalized brand recommendations specific to their buying needs. FREE

Specialty Food LIVE! 
January 19 – 22, 2021
Access new and trending specialty food products as well as best-sellers.  Buyers are welcome to come for one, two, three, or all four days. The virtual event will include Virtual Product Tasting Experience sessions, on-demand chat, videoconferencing, and fun virtual networking events. FREE

IMC Virtual Market Center
Features ShopZio, an online B2B marketplace that enables buyers and sellers to connect during this time of unprecedented business disruption. Catalog Connexion offers over 550 catalogs from High Point resources to search, browse, contact vendors and now select brands are shoppable.  Product Search and Discovery provides access thousands of furniture and home décor products through our exclusive line-up of digital search and discovery tool.

MELROSE 360˙ Showroom
Shop by collections, walk the entire showroom, make wish lists, and even place an order. 

Sullivans Virtual Market
Sullivans, a designer and marketer of home décor products, permanent botanicals, and giftware, revealed a new way to shop this market season through its new virtual marketplace. Sullivans is excited to present its showroom, virtually. It features seven new themes and over 750 new spring and everyday products, including on-trend containers, wall décor, textiles, florals and botanicals, and more.


💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated Dec 15. Always double-check show dates for changes.Jan 6-12, 2021
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market (Winter) 🔗
Jan 11-15 and 18-22, 2021
LA Mart (Winter). Los Angeles 🔗 **by appointment only
Jan 12-15, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market 🔗
Jan 12-19, 2021
Atlanta Market (Winter) 🔗
Jan 19-22, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market 🔗
VIRTUAL SHOW
Feb 4-12, 2021
NY NOW Digital Winter Market🔗
Feb 2-6, 2021
Atlanta Apparel Market 🔗
CANCELLED
Feb 7-10, 2021
NY NOW (Winter), New York 🔗
Feb 18-21, 2021
TransWorld’s Jewelry, Fashion & Acces Show (Winter), Rosemont, IL 🔗
Feb 26-28, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market 🔗
Mar 3-5, 2021
Atlanta Spring Mini Market 🔗
Mar 23-26, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Acces Market + Total Home & Gift Market 🔗
Apr 11-13, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market 🔗
RESCHEDULED for
Apr 11-15, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Winter) 🔗
Jan 24-28, 2021
May 3-6, 2021
Atlanta Spring Cash & Carry 🔗
RESCHEDULED for
Jun 5-9, 2021
High Point Spring Market 🔗
Apr 17-20, 2021
Jun 6-7, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market 🔗
Jun 9–12, 2021
June Atlanta Apparel 🔗
Jul 13-19, 2021
Atlanta Market (Summer) 🔗
Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show Chicago IL 🔗
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY 🔗
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer) 🔗
Jul 25-29, 2021
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

How to conduct a physical inventory

Hospital gift shops are required by tax and, often, accounting rules to provide an accurate on-hand value of the merchandise in its shop. Although the shop may be using a perpetual inventory system or other software to keep track of all items, it may still be required to physically count all inventory.

Here are the basics on how to conduct a physical inventory with as little disruption, and as much accuracy, as possible.

  • Replenish shelves with merchandise from the stockroom. Try to clear as much inventory from the backroom as possible. Be sure there is no merchandise under cash wraps, in the office, or any other location. If an inventory service has been hired to do the physical inventory, follow the guide they provide and prepare the shop according to their instructions. If the physical inventory is being conducted by shop employees, meet with staff to explain the inventory counting process.

    From the guide “How to Conduct a Physical Inventory”

  • Assign each employee a location and provide a pre-numbered inventory Counting Worksheet (available in How to Conduct a Physical Inventory). Those conducting the inventory should count each item on their sheet and only record the exact quantities.
    When the physical inventory count is completed, compare the physical count to the perpetual inventory record. Discrepancies should be further investigated and resolved. A recount may be required by a different counting team for any major discrepancy.
  • At the end of the inventory process, adjust the perpetual inventory record for each line item to reflect the quantity and value of the physical inventory.

Get these steps in complete detail and the extended guide on How to Conduct a Physical Inventory. Includes inventory preparation checklist, worksheet templates, Per Category and Total Shop Inventory calculations, formulas for Cost of Goods Sold, best-practices, and more.

Straighten the shop so products are neat and orderly for easy counting.

Schedule inventory when sales are slow and inventory levels are down.

Order lunch on Inventory Day for your staff and volunteers!

snoozies!® Face Coverings


SPONSOR

snoozies!® Face Coverings

snoozies!® three-layer cloth washable face coverings, are selling at a rapid clip in hospital stores around the country!
– Includes four filters
– Adult and children sizes/patterns
– Washable and reusable
– Comes with replacement filters
– Adjustable elastic ear-loop bands
– Flexible metal bridge for snug fit
– Over 20 print and solid designs
View our Face Covering Catalog or at snoozies.com!

252-650-7000
www.snoozies.com


December to January Checklist

 

DECEMBER

✂ Mark Down

  • December 19: Mark down slow-moving items.
  • December 28: The last week of December, put all holiday merchandise on sale at 40% off. A Hallmark study  found that customers did not purchase differently whether the discount is 40 or 50% off for post-holiday sales. So, just do 40% off for the first week after Christmas, and then go down from there. Make judgment calls on certain lines whether or not to discount further after the first week.

📝 Plan

  • Create a 2021 Buying and Planning calendar. Know where you’re going. Know when to buy. Ensure that the shop’s physical inventory process is organized and in place for the beginning of the fiscal year.
  • Confirm plans to attend a major Winter gift market, if possible. ✈️
  • Keep a “Brainstorm Book” at the checkout counter so cashiers can jot down customer’s requests. Invite everyone to write down their ideas on how to revamp displays or other suggests they thought of while they were working their shift.

Sell! Sell! Sell!  If all your preparatory work was done in advance – nothing should stop you from being on the floor helping customers and selling merchandise. Stock and restock!christmas retail display

Schedule additional staffing to work 10am-2pm to handle the increased business during the last busy weeks before the holidays.

When you first arrive in the morning, do a daily “walk-about.” Visually scan each display. Remove tired or worn products. Which items need to be restocked, reordered or re-merchandised? Are your product faces turned forward? What products need signage? Take notes when necessary.

Promote gift certificates as the perfect co-worker gift. Submit a reminder to the hospital’s weekly e-blast, or newsletter. Train cashiers to suggest them to hospital

 

employees.

Check bags, boxes, and wrapping supplies. You may need to reorder after the holiday rush.

Give lots of ‘pats on the back’, words of thanks, and gestures of gratitude to all paid and volunteer staff. Give them a 20-30% discount on shop merchandise for their own personal purchase. This won’t hurt your bottom line in the least. On the contrary, since they wear, use, and gift just about everything in the shop, they are walking billboards for the merchandise. Staff/volunteer discounts are also an excellent recruiting tool.

Pack leftovers away or donate. Try not to hold over any product. If it didn’t sell this year, chances are it won’t sell next year. However, you might hold over items that sold well but perhaps you were a little too optimistic in your ordering. Clean and reorganize stockroom while inventory is down.

TAKE INVENTORY! If your fiscal year ends in December, take physical inventory now. Use the step-by-step guide How to Conduct a Physical Inventory 🔗.

⏳ Buy

  • Buy Spring merchandise that focuses on garden, pick-up gifts, and collectibles. Think color!
  • Buy remaining Easter and Mother’s Day merchandise. 🐰
  • Order gift items for upcoming Mother’s Day, Administrative Professionals Day, and Nurses’ Day.
  • Make sure to reorder fast-selling merchandise BEFORE you run out.

🧸 Display

  • Promote picture frames for family holiday photos.
  • Give your customers a wonderful feeling with fresh spring merchandise and displays. Brighten up your shop with flowers and plants. Fresh products will get customers into your shop. Sentiment and cheer sells!  🌼 🌿 🌸
  • Place calendars and date books in the cash register area for quick sales. 📆
  • Begin displaying Valentine cards and merchandise in early January so hospital employees can be thinking about their purchases. Valentine’s Day is the shortest major gift-selling season of the year. The majority of purchases occur one to three days before the holiday itself. For some gift shop managers, it can be a nightmare. For those that do it right, it’s worth every effort. 💘 

📝 Plan

  • FIFTH FRIDAY $5 OFF SALE: Mark the months with five Fridays and hold a “FIFTH FRIDAY $5 OFF SALE”. Qualify it by taking $5 off any purchase totaling $25 or more. That way you are only giving a 20% discount at the most, but usually it is less than 20% off because they often spend more than the $25. It is also a good incentive to add on to a sale that might only be $20 initially. It helps to have a ‘$ off’ button setup on your POS register which pro- rates the discount off each item purchased. If a customer returns just one item, the sale price is listed by item on the receipt. Be sure to advertise this event with emails to all hospital employees. 🎉 
  • Get more sale ideas like the DOCTOR’S DAY SALE, 20% OFF GREEN, and the GET KISSED EVENT in the 12 Month Action Plan for Gift Shop Managers 🔗
Upcoming 2021 HOLIDAYS
JANUARY
New Year’s Day [1st]
Martin Luther King Day [3rd Monday]
FEBRUARY
Groundhog Day [2nd]
Super Bowl Sunday
Valentine’s Day [14th]
President’s Day [3rd Monday]
Black History Month
MARCH
St. Patrick’s Day [17th]
Doctor’s Day [30th]
APRIL
April Fool’s Day [1st]
Easter Sunday [varies]
Tax Day [15th]
Admin Professionals Day [4th Wednesday]
Earth Day [22nd]
MAY
Graduation Season
Cinco de Mayo [5th]
Nurses Day [6th]
Kentucky Derby [1st Sat]
Mother’s Day [2nd Sunday]
Senior Citizens’ Day [19th]
Memorial Day [last Monday]

Say a special thank you to all workers in your gift shop. Serve honey buns with coffee under a sign reading “Thanks for working your buns off!”

Rearrange and freshen up your inventory. Mix new merchandise with old to spruce it up. This has to be done carefully so as not to devalue your new merchandise.

Review your Valentine orders to ensure timely deliveries.

 If you haven’t developed a yearlong budget for the shop, the time is now! Project expected sales for each month. Estimate your shop’s operating costs for each month. 💲

Prepare a 2020 Merchandise Report to document your successes and failures throughout the year. Record what was packed away to sell the following year. Know what sold well and what did not to avoid repeating the same mistakes. This information will be important when buying for next year’s holiday season. 

2020 Resolution:  Keep the register counter free of clutter throughout the year.

Vow to make cashier training and retraining a priority. There is only one thing worse than training your volunteers and having them leave: not training them and having them stay.

Keep volunteers and staff aware of each month’s sales goals and new products.

Non-seasonal sales can be tricky because you don’t want to train customers to wait for monthly sales. First, identify slow sellers on a quarterly basis and move them out as necessary. Better yet, create a permanent clearance corner and add products as you see fit to move them out.


NOVEMBER 2020 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #611
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • What I learned as a gift shop manager
  • Q. Can paid staff also volunteer?
  • Survey Results: Do you have an online store?
  • Q. What vendors offer baby apparel that sells well?
  • ‘Open The Joy’ gifts for pediatric patients
  • Replace volunteers with employed staff
  • December Action Plan
  • Diffuse the combustible customer
  • Sometimes, even gift shops hire dishonest people
  • Q. Holiday gourmet food line?
  • Job Description: Gift Shop Manager [Download]
  • Virtual tradeshows and online showrooms
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


BABY APPAREL VENDOR

Q. I manage a gift shop in a 99-bed facility and we deliver babies. What vendors offer baby apparel that sells well? Thank you – Patty Cummings, Inventory Procurement Specialist, Fisher-Titus Medical Center, Norwalk, OH. 9/28/20

Mudpie and Gund sells for us. – Ali McCrary, 11/3/20

Halo is a must and Swinging on a Star has great big brother and sister items. – Christine Parker, Kent Hospital, Warwick, RI. 359 beds. 10/22/20 

We do really well with Mud Pie baby. – Mary Hays, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, Round Rock, TX. 167 beds. 10/19/20

We have Magnetic Me sleepers, Halo swaddle/sleep sacks, Mason Chic and Bunnies By the Bay. Magnetic Me is our best seller. – Barb Shafer, 10/17/20

BabyVision has a great line of inexpensive clothing including preemie items, newborn gift sets, infant headbands, socks, etc. Kellis Gifts can be a nice resource if you need only a handful items. – Lynne T. 10/16/20

I’ve sold thousands of fun leggings from Doodle Pants, and Pea pod hats by Margareta Horn Design, and drop ship monogram towels/blankets from Monograms of Distinction, musical toys from Cuddle Barn, soft toys from Unipak DesignsElaine Boaman. 10/16/20

Mudpie is our best brand for baby clothing sales. We also order from a small company we found in cash and carry at the Atlanta Market called Cozy Cottage Boutique. – Shea Parazine 10/16/20


REPLACING VOLUNTEERS WITH PAID STAFF

Q. We have a decreasing auxiliary membership, as well as an aging one. Besides COVID, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep our hospital gift shop hours attended by volunteers. We are toying with the idea of hiring a paid employee to work the shifts that aren’t covered by an auxiliary member and to do tasks that our elderly volunteers cannot. Any experience – Teri Nixon, Manager, Los Alamos Medical Center, Los Alamos, NM. 50 beds  10/14/20   

Teri, here at our hospital we have both volunteers and paid staff. Volunteers are clearly more profitable to the gift shops and paid staff fill in the rest of the shifts. Our hospital has been in locked down to the public since July unless they have appointments. Unfortunately gift shops in hospitals have been effected financially since COVID-19. We have called our volunteers back that feel comfortable volunteering in the gift shop and fill the rest of the shifts with paid staff. We have also cut back our hours to be opened during the day and closed evenings and weekends. For example Monday 9am-1pm and Tuesday-Friday 9am-4pm. -Louisa Gosgnach, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Thunder Bay ON. 11/20/20

Because of COVID, our volunteers are not back yet, so I have an assistant that works in the Gift Shop and I cover her lunch and breaks. There’s just two of us to keep up with the shop, pricing, etc. I know that it’s getting harder to recruit volunteers, especially in a hospital setting, but I would keep trying to recruit them! Volunteer recruitment might look different than it used to. For example, are you trying every avenue to recruit? Word of mouth, radio, facebook, instagram, etc.? Are you targeting all ages of volunteers? The typical retiree, but what about the college aged students that need hours for class, the stay-at-home mom that needs a break? I would keep trying before you go that route and make that your last resort! – Ali McCrary, Volunteer Services, Gift Shop and Auxiliary Manager at Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, IN. 11/20/20

The good news: paid management offers a continuity of service to customers by keeping the shop open during posted shop hours. The not so good news: salaries cut into your shop’s profit. This is a tough decision. We’d love to hear from volunteer managers who have the same issue.  – Cindy, Editor


CAN PAID STAFF ALSO VOLUNTEER

Q. I understand the rule that a volunteer can’t be paid for the same job that they are volunteering for. You can have separate paid staff and volunteers work together though. It’s done in many hospital gift shops. But, where you can run into a problem is if a paid staff member is asked to volunteer their time doing the same duties that they are normally paid for. Is that correct? – A gift shop manager  10/12/20

FROM CINDY: OSHA does not regulate the use of volunteers, however,  FLSA laws do. FLSA regulations state that a paid employee cannot volunteer (or be required to volunteer) for the same organization to do the same job in which he/she is paid to do. This means that your paid employee cashier who works three days a week cannot be expected to work a fourth day without compensation and be called a “volunteer” on that day. People who volunteer their services for charitable or civic causes without expectation of compensation can do the same job as a paid employee and they can work together in the workspace as paid employees. This rule applies for non-profit organizations. For-profit organizations cannot use volunteers. For-profit organizations can develop internships that are time-delineated and have specific learning outcomes and sometimes a modest monetary compensation associated with them (such as, work-study students). Shop managers can meet with the hospital volunteer resources manager to help clarify the engagement of volunteers from their legal department.


NET PROFIT MARGIN

Q. I recall that in one of your Newsletters you gave a “net profit benchmark” figure for hospital gift shops. It was like a 30% or 35% profit margin. Is that still accurate? Thanks! – Shop Manager, Volunteer Manager, Tulsa, OK. 11/3/20

FROM CINDY: Maintaining a good profit margin is the key to success. A shop may have very high sales, but if their net profit is low, something is eating up the profits along the way. It could be: high salary expenses, high cost of goods, or high operating costs and markdowns. A good manager must keep these factors in control.

An all-volunteer operated shop should achieve at least a 25% of gross sales net profit margin.

The net profit margin percent should be higher in an all-volunteer operated shop than in a shop with a paid manager due to salary expenses. A shop with a paid manager should realize at least a 20% of the gross sales net profit margin.


HOW IS THE SHUTDOWN AFFECTING YOUR GIFT SHOP?

October was a very slow month, being open 10 to 3 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I even canceled Saturday as 4 to 5 customers in a five hour frame was not worth it. A lot of merchandise was being received also, a lot of back orders, especially masks, so many. The employees get a 20% discount. The masks I’ve been selling at 30%.

For November on Election day and Veterans day, I had sale 30% off all regular price items. Our sales were very good. Slowly putting out Christmas items. This will help our sales. December, many of the volunteers that were out due to COVID are coming back. We’ll be open everyday except Sunday and I’ll have sales throughout the month for the employees and volunteers. Also longer hours, broken up by half day shifts.

I will have my volunteer coordinator put out an employee wide email of specials, sales, featured items, etc. – Grace Hutchinson, Piedmont Medical Center, Rock Hill, SC. 150 beds. 11/16/20

We finally opened this week for the first time in 6 months. Our hours are 3 times a week for four hours a day. Needless to say the staff is so excited. Concerns are how long we will stay open at this point. Covid numbers are skyrocketing. Not sure I will carry fall or Christmas items at this point. – Elizabeth Stringham, Volunteer Manager for Gift Shop, ThedaCare Regional Medical Center, Appleton, WI 10/6/20

Elizabeth, where are you located? Bravo for that glimmer of hope for your staff to be open just a short period of time. It is important for the hospital to see your “value” to the hospital as people start to come in and pick up necessities. As you know the hospital staff look to you for something different to look at other than masks and soda and candy. There are cute necklaces out there that clip on to masks so that you can avoid losing your mask and it looks like jewelry hanging around your neck. Unusual and fun items even in really small quantities lets people know that you are still an important part of the hospital and you are open! Just one small table display at the entrance that makes your “guests” smile…is worth the minor investment. Everyone is watching the seasons go so that we can move on into a new year!! – Anne Obarski, Merchandise Concepts, Mount Pleasant, MI. 10/9/20

We reopened the week that all retail establishments were permitted to open. It’s been going pretty well and the employees are so thankful that they can come in and shop. During the shutdown we were only selling via emails and phone calls. Patients are only permitted one visitor per day so we definitely are loosing there but our screeners will permit the public to come into the hospital to shop at our store so that’s a definite plus. Still only open limited hours. Mon–Thu 9-4 and Fri 9-2. No weekends. Snoozies masks have been our BIGGEST seller! Yes, they are more expensive but, after the employees tried them, they realized how comfortable they were. I sell them for $14.99 and get a second 25% off. We are a small community hospital too so we’re not selling to the rich and famous A much less expensive alternative is Wine Onion I’ve always bought jewelry from them but now you can get masks for less than $3 each and they’re selling really well at $6.99. And always, DM Merchandising has excellent prices! Their Comfort Care masks are $2.90 cost and sell for $6.99. I’ve reordered so many times. -Jenny Turner, UH Portage Medical Center, Ravenna, OH 10/7/20

Hi Jenny! I’m a grad of KSU and was tickled to see your hospital turn up here. I am happy you are offering a few different price points for your masks. What is even more interesting are your comments about Snoozies! It is important to take away from your comments that even though you may think the price point is high, the “value” your customer receives out weighs the retail price. I am sure you have a group of cheerleaders at your hospital who tell everyone that comfort is worth it. I know we all can agree when it comes to masks, comfort and quality say it all. – Anne Obarski, Merchandise Concepts, Mount Pleasant, MI. 10/9/20

25% of the HGS in California are open for business in several modes of operation.Almost all of the HGS based on my research are also open with their county health and hospital restrictions. – Lilly Stamets 10/12/20

We are open to limited hours. Monday thru Friday, 10am to 4pm, closed Saturday and Sunday. The week of our employee holiday event, November 16th, we will be re open on Saturday’s from 10am to 2pm for our weekend employees and guests. This will continue through the holidays and hopefully, into 2021. Thank you. -Kim DeBord, Riverside Medical, Kankakee, IL, 336 beds 10/6/20

We have opened up this week with limited hours. We do not plan to place any orders for the balance of 2020. – Barbara Reynolds, Roseville, CA 10/6/20

We are still closed… -Pinecone Gift Shop 10/2/20



© Cindy Jones Associates, 2020. COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. Redistribution, copying, reselling, re-renting, or republishing is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Cindy’s Newsletter may not to be forwarded, redistributed, reproduced, reprinted, or posted online without prior permission from Cindy Jones Associates. Subscribers may share one issue with a fellow manager. Thereafter, the manager may subscribe here to receive future issues.