2021 Newsletter Issues

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!


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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, Integrations examined startup and operating costs, technical requirements, selecting an eCommerce platform, and system integrations. Here, in Part 3: Design, Content, Images, Policies we’ll 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 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 University Hospital 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 University 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 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.

NEXT ARTICLE

Creating an Online Store | Part 4: Outsourcing, alternatives and common challenges

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

   

 

 

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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

 

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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!

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


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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


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Creating an Online Store | Part 2: Costs, getting started, 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 University Hospital 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 University Gift Shop

Stanford Hospital 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 University 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.

NEXT ARTICLE

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

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…

 

 

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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?

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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


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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


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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 Hospital 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, we’ll cover the practical aspects of online stores like technical requirements, costs, selecting software, the impact on operations and 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

 

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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

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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


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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!


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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.

 

 

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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.

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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

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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!


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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


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© 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.