Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | August 15, 2020 💮



Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter provides its readership of over 3,000 gift shop professionals “actionable content” to help optimize their shop operation, grow revenue, and connect with one another. LEAVE A COMMENT: Click the colored comment tags throughout the newsletter or email Cindy at

AUGUST 15, 2020


👍🏼Reopened : what policies have you put in place? Are they working?

👎🏼Still Closed: what’s the biggest concern you have about reopening?

😕Are you experiencing difficult or uncooperative customers?

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your gift shop. Has your gift shop closed or reduced hours? What about volunteers? Are you sanitizing product? If your hospital does close the gift shop will they deploy you to another department? If your hospital does close the gift shop will they deploy you to another department?
Leave a comment herex

We reopened on July with limited hours. M-F 11am – 3pm. On July 13th the hospital opened for visitors from 1pm – 4pm. With only one visitor per patient per day. We have Plexiglas at the register and lots of signage with a hand sanitizing station at the entrance of the shop. We also have a limit of five people in the shop at once due to square footage. The hospital is preparing in advance for another shut down, we are in New York State and the gift shop is creating an online store for hospital employees so we can have curb side pick up if have to close again. We were closed for three months.  

We have notice a major increase in chocolate and candy prices is any one else experiencing this?
Leave a comment herex
– Anonymous 7/7/20  

Yes. But I do have a vendor that sometimes have clearance sales on candy and snacks, but be careful with the expiration dates. Kellies Gifts. They are my biggest vendor I deal with. – Grace Hutchinson, Volunteer Manager and Buyer, Piedmont Medical Center Gift Store, Rock Hill, SC, 7/16/20

Would love to know what your top sellers are? – Anne Obarski 8/5/20

We reopened July 6th. I had to adjust the shop hours due to the shortage of volunteers. we are open M-F 830am-5pm. I’m thankful that I do have 3 part-time paid employees. Business is really slow because the traffic of the hospital has been reduced tremendously! I have a lot of merchandise in stock from before we closed in March. So I’m not really buying anything major. I’m going to be more conservative on spending because everything is so uncertain right now.

We reopened on July 6th with reduced hours, M-F 9a-3p and 10a-1p on Saturday, closed on Sunday. Visitors are still not allowed at the hospital, but we are open for the convenience of staff and those who come in for the Outpatient procedures. No more than 3 customers allowed in at once, hand sanitizing and masks required.  – Anonymous 7/16/20

Congratulations! It sounds like you are doing everything you need to. Providing “smiling eyes” is so important. It’s also amazing that you have 3/4 of your staff back! Great job! – Anne Obarski 8/5/20

We have opened our Pinkadilly Gift Shop on June 1st. We use plexi-glass at the register, everyone wears a mask, all people who enter hospital are screened and have to wear a mask. About 3/4 of my volunteer staff have returned, but enough to stay open Monday thru Friday. Customers/Nursing staff have all expressed thankfulness and gratitude that we have re-opened. It is working fine. – Anonymous 7/16/20

We reopened first week of June with one day a week reduced hours. Father’s Day I got human resources to open Saturday for two days a week. The following week for some reason we had a record day, more than our highest day at Christmas. I got the okay from human resources to open a third day. Our sales most days have been above average. The hospital employees are so forever grateful to have the gift store open again. I try to keep the shop fresh and have cost points with my vendors. Customers are grateful too for trying to keep prices just right. Another thing, since I took over over a year ago, I have added a small men’s section. This has helped also. – Grace Hutchinson, Volunteer Manager and Buyer, Piedmont Medical Center Gift Store, Rock Hill, SC 7/16/20

Hello! We have been open for 2 months and we can see our business growing. We are open 7:30 -2:00 Monday -Friday and for the month of June we did almost half of what we did last June. We sold about $10,000.00 and gave a contribution check to the Auxiliary for $5000.00 not too bad. So that is a great start. Considering I can’t send out my own emails anymore and have to count on the marketing department to put us in the daily newsletter that is sent out each day. And the front door right outside our gift shop is blocked and closed so we only get hallway traffic! But, we have jumped the first hurtle.
Hope all is well with you and your working team. Thank you. – Bobbi Berry Memorial Gift Shop Manager 8/5/20

We’ve been open with reduced hours up until yesterday when we returned to regular weekday hours. No weekend hours yet. During our reduced hours we sold t-shirts that said “I’m sorry for what I said during Quarantine” and the staff LOVED them! Nothing insensitive to the seriousness of the situation, but our employees relish getting away for some retail therapy. They’ve been buying hand sanitizer and we’re finally getting masks in that we ordered. – Vicki Holcombe 6/16/20

Vicki, may I ask what company you bought your masks from? Are you happy with them and were they a reasonable price? Thank you!– Pam 6/16/20

They are cloth masks from Couture Tee Company out of Farmville, LA. Cost is $3.50 each. We just got them in but our manager reports they are already selling. She bought one herself and said it’s comfortable to wear. We also have some that just shipped from Calla Products out of Diablo, CA. Cost is $4.00 each for those. Both are vendors we already had a relationship with. I hope this helps.  – Vicki Holcombe 6/17/20

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

We are keeping an eye on shop closing and reopenings. This poll has been running live since April, 2020. Now, here in August, the trend is definitely starting to move up!

August 15, 2020


Fall Checklist

by Cindy Jones, Editor 💮

Even though we don’t know what fall will look like, make your shop a “Happy Place!” now, more than ever.

  • Deep clean your shop. We’re talking about down to the fixtures here. Remove every box, bag or tag. Sweep or mop every floor surface. Get your carpets cleaned. The whole goal is to look as new and fresh as possible. 
  • Repair, repaint and relight. Once everything is clean, you will notice the chipped paint, broken furniture, and yellowed signage. Customers notice these things! It’s time to fix them. They blight your overall shop image.
  • Put your new fall merchandise out. Bring in assortments that set the mood, i.e., potpourri, votives, sprays, gift candles, ornamental pumpkins, fall flags, and artificial fall florals. 
  • Clean out storage areas for Fall and Christmas deliveries.
  • Pull losers together for your ‘Dog Days of Summer Sale’.
  • Begin fall-into-holiday marketing and merchandising planning.
  • Begin displaying your high-priced holiday items that need more time to sell.
  • Ensure that all customer policies are reviewed, in place, and posted  before the season begins.
  • Ensure that all staff is trained and knowledgeable about policies and merchandise. Provide ‘customer service’ refresher training as the holidays approach.
  • Begin displaying the coming year’s calendars and date books.
  • Review buyer’s job description. Meet with buyers to discuss basic job responsibilities. This is crucial to laying the groundwork for a successful holiday season.
  • As you begin pricing incoming holiday merchandise, make sure you take the markup necessary to make an adequate profit. In this economically stressed time, just double the price and add shipping. 
  • Cautiously finish buying Fall and holiday apparel (sweatshirts, sweaters, warm-ups). Begin buying Spring ladies apparel.
  • Make sure you’ve ordered a small selection of gifts for men (ties, key rings, wallets) and seniors for the holidays. 
  • Order tissue, boxes, and bags.
  • Use smaller round tables nested around each other to create dramatic display area for high-profit items throughout your store.
  • Reassess your shop’s hours. Limited hours mean limited sales and service. Good customer service means being open at the right time. Once shop hours have been determined, maintain them. The quickest way to turn customers off is to have irregular hours.



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Q. Do you think online platforms, like Facebook Shops, would work for your gift shop?

Yes- If I can get my approval. I think I could make a significant impact with millennial employees in particular. – Debra Johnson 6/23/20

I am in the process of adding an online store and have looked at Shopify and BigCommerce. Not sure about Facebook because the clientele has really changed and not for the good. Instagram is still ok. I do realize that FB represents the attitude of the world also so very unsure. – Connie Slingluff 6//16/20

Do you have an online store? What software do you use? Is it generating revenue?
Please leave a comment herex

SOURCE: Trade Show News Network


Many are wondering what attendance will be like now that gift markets are slowly reopening. Are you at the Atlanta Summer Market right now? Take the survey

Have you recently attended or plan to attend a gift market?


Is it in bad taste to sell COVID-19 novelty items?

Last month, we asked, is it in poor taste to sell COVID-19 novelty items. Obviously, nothing tacky, insensitive, or inappropriate. But a light-hearted t-shirt, mugs, teddy bears with face masks. Or, would it put off the doctors and nurses who see the tragedy of coronavirus, first hand, everyday.

“I do sell some Covid products. Simply Southern had some great tee-shirts that were in very good taste ~ I reordered 4 times! Masks are great ~ but ~ I sell for no more than $5.99…so my profit isn’t great always ~ but ~ it is good for associates to know we are not ALL about profit during this time, and everyone likes a cute mask!!” – Anonymous July 16, 2020

“….we sold t-shirts that said “I’m sorry for what I said during Quarantine” and the staff LOVED them! Nothing insensitive to the seriousness of the situation, but our employees relish getting away for some retail therapy. They’ve been buying hand sanitizer and we’re finally getting masks in that we ordered.” – Vicki Holcombe 6/ 16/20

How do you feel about selling COVID-19 pandemic novelty items?
Please leave a comment herex

Four Trends: How COVID-19 will shape holiday retail shopping in 2020

from /  Jul 22, 2020

While Black Friday is still months away, a few predictions are safe to make now. Chief among them: For many households, consumers will be spending for the holidays no matter what.

“There’s always room somehow to find [the budget] for either Christmas or Hanukkah or for the holidays. But it will be a challenging one,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, a trade group.

Here are four other trends you can expect to see this coming holiday season, according to Kleinhenz.


Optimize your store layout for a quick in-and-out visit. Adapting to consumers’ changing shopping habits is more important than ever. When shoppers venture into stores, they’re on a mission. Brick-and-mortar stores need to convince shoppers that it is healthy and safe to come in. Have staff readily available to quickly point customers in the right direction.


You may want to hire plenty of shopping assistants, those employees who run through the store to get items people want for curbside pickup or delivery. Staff up early since competition for this help could be stiff. The hiring surge could be so significant that it could affect temporary employment statistics in the fourth quarter, says Kleinhenz.


People will want to buy products that align with social distancing lifestyles, even continuing into November. Kleinhenz expects a big uptick in the home entertainment category, such as remote-learning tools like iPads and laptops, and in other gifts that reflect stay-in-place routines.

In contrast, food spending will be down if people can’t gather for big meals, Kleinhenz predicts. The fewer dollars going to big fancy meals or traveling may mean more going toward gifts, he says.


Prepare for more returns than usual. If customers do buy online, they’ll likely buy more than what they need since they can’t go into the store to try things on or see the product in real life, eventually returning a lot of those items. Plus, you likely have additional sanitization processes to think about. Be prepared to handle those returns in a timely way.

Don’t count the consumer out this holiday shopping season, Kleinhenz says. He still has faith in consumers, all things considered, and that they’ll want to spend money this year, even if their buying patterns look different than last year. It’s up to you to meet those consumers where they are.

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Best practices on combating theft and shrinkage

by Alec Overly, National Account Executive, i3 POS / Aug 15, 2020

Have you ever thought that you may have an issue with theft? You are probably right. Theft is a huge problem in the retail environment. Studies have shown that shrinkage costs businesses more than $36 billion each year. In simple terms, dishonest employees are reaching into your pocket, via merchandise on the shelf and cash in your till, and stealing your gift shop’s hard earned money. It is estimated that one in four employees steals and that 50% of them are repeat offenders. Also, on average, the value of merchandise and cash taken by employees is approximately 5.5% more than that which is stolen by shoplifters.

What can you do to prevent the theft and embezzlement that may be happening right in front of you? I3 Point of Sale has put together this list of BEST PRACTICES that you can begin to implement today to regain control and reduce shrinkage of inventory and cash assets.

Balance your cash drawers at the end of each shift. The cashier who initiates the cash drawer count at the beginning of a shift should not be the person who certifies the cash drawer count at the end of a shift. Each cashier should conduct a blind count, and the manager should reconcile the drawer.

Conduct regular and irregular audits. Audits will help you detect theft and fraud. In a small business retail environment, employees may feel that they are being singled out and that they do not have the trust of the shop manager. However, regular audits may serve to decrease theft and fraud by reducing the opportunity for such activities. Implement a practice of random cash drawer counts. Random drawer counts serve to decrease the opportunities for employees to steal cash.

Have policies and procedures in place to deal with theft and fraud. Inform your employees of these policies and procedures. Your employees should have copies of and know the organization’s code of conduct and ethics policies and the attendant consequences and disciplinary actions for violations. Every employee should sign a form acknowledging receipt of the documents and understanding of the content. Conduct annual training on these policies and procedures, and have each employee sign an acknowledgement of recertification and retraining.

Install security cameras. By actively monitoring your sales floor and your register areas, you will reduce the opportunities for employees to commit theft and fraud. Post signs that the premises are being monitored. Display signs which inform of your intention to prosecute all shoplifters.

Limit unauthorized access and entrance to your shop. Keys or codes should be issued only to Shop Managers and Security Directors. Keys should be signed for when issued, and the list must be kept up to date by noting when keys are returned. No one should enter the shop after hours without being accompanied by a manager or security employee. Consider digital keypads which can be configured with different entry codes for each specified employee. The system can track who entered the shop and when. Housekeeping should be done only when shop personnel are present.

Establish procedures for ordering and receiving merchandise. Audit these procedures regularly. Always use a purchase order to fulfill merchandise purchases. The buyer should check all merchandise received against the purchase order and the packing slip. The manager should check the purchase orders against inventory reports and approve all invoice payments.

Retail managers know that a leading indicator of possible theft and fraud is the number of times “No Sale” appears on their drawer report. Know if a particular employee is frequently performing this action and follow up on the activity.

Install an alarm on each cash drawer. An alarm can be used to prevent employees from leaving cash drawers open. It should also sound when someone attempts to open the drawer when there is no transaction in process

Know your usual ratio of cash sales to credit sales. An increase on either side of the equation should trigger an investigation. Such an investigation will likely reveal indicators pointing to an increase in returns.

Know what is going on with your inventory. Conduct frequent spot checks of inventory in the various merchandise departments. Does a decrease in the inventory of a particular product correlate to increased sales of that particular item? Know which items in your store are at a higher risk for theft and locate them in a more visible area in your store.

Implement a reporting system to receive anonymous reports of theft, fraud or violations of your Code of Conduct and Ethics Policies. Promote and encourage the use of a reporting system by investigating all reports.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Gift Shop donates $350,000

WALB News, Albany, GA / Aug 6, 2020

 Gifts from the Heart, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s gift shop, presented Phoebe Foundation with a check for $350,000 on Thursday. After operating costs are covered, all proceeds from the store go to support the foundation each year.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Gift Shop

“We are incredibly grateful to the dedicated staff and volunteers who operate our gift shop, and to all our visitors and Phoebe Family members who support Gifts from the Heart. This is the largest donation we’ve ever received from the shop, and it will allow us to purchase equipment and support services that will benefit Phoebe patients,” said Carolyn Higgins, Phoebe Foundation president and chief fundraising officer.

Congratulations to Ginger Jenkins, Gift Shop Manager at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital!


Even though the gift shop was closed for a month during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and still has not returned to normal hours of operation, fiscal year 2020 was the store’s most successful year ever, according to Phoebe. Phoebe officials said this year’s donation represents a 60% increase over last year’s gift shop proceeds.

“We try to make this a fun place for people to visit and shop, and we work hard to stock a wide variety of popular merchandise. We did a 12 Days of Christmas promotion during the holidays that was extremely successful, and customers have really supported us lately, even though we only have limited hours. Their loyalty allowed us to have such a successful year, and we’re pleased to assist our patients by providing this large donation to the foundation,” Ginger Jenkins, gift shop manager, said.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital CEO Joe Austin praised the gift shop staff for the safe and welcoming atmosphere they create. “People come in here for a reason. People are ready to shop because it feels normal. The staff has done a great job of following safety protocols and encouraging customers to return since reopening. It takes a lot of hard work to run a gift shop this successfully, and they’ve done a great job,” Austin said.

Phoebe volunteers usually play a vital role in operating the shop, but volunteers have been asked to stay away from the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Phoebe. The gift shop will return to full operation once volunteers return. Currently, the shop is open Monday-Friday, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.


Get details on running a 12 Days of Christmas Sale in Cindy’s Twelve Month Action Plan

Two big, but simple, changes for your shop


Gift-wrap costs money! It takes valuable counter space And it takes valuable cashier time. Instead, offer gift bags. Stock three to four different size craft bags  with curly ribbon on the handles and colored tissue inside. Now you have a quick gift wrap service for a small cost. Use recycled bubble wrap (save it from shipments) so cashiers can package up delicate or breakable items. Your cashiers will love how more efficient the gift bags are and welcome the change.

TIP: To keep operating costs down, consider charging 75¢ if the purchase is under $10.


I have visited shops where the stockroom was overloaded with a maze of original packaging boxes. The cashiers said they need them, but they can never match the item with its original box. So, what is the use of keeping them? Who wants to receive a lovely “angel” in a box that says “frog”! With the exception of collectibles, throw those boxes out! You’re not in the “box business”. Don’t waste valuable stockroom space with empty boxes. Your stockroom should be full of exciting merchandise – not boxes!

Virtual Tradeshows and Online Showrooms

SHOPPE ON Virtual Trade Show
Aug 24 – 27, 2020

SHOPPE ON is bringing Shoppe Object’s singular community to life online. SHOPPE ON will launch a year-round wholesale e-commerce platform to the desktops and phones of top-tier buyers and editors around the world, 24-7, providing discovery and replenishment in a format that is simple, attractive, and robust.

SHOPPE ON will introduce live, virtual event days with dynamic editorial content and interactive, real-time engagement to illuminate our exceptional brand curation, and to complement our biannual shows in NYC. SHOPPE ON will attract both industry and consumer attention to the most vital, exquisite, and design driven brands and makers of the day, forging community and connection, facilitating commerce and communication.

Faire Summer Market Online Trade Show
Aug 26 – 27, 2020

Faire is holding its first online trade show event to kick off the holiday buying season: Faire Summer Market, coming to Aug. 26-27. The cancellation and postponement of trade shows across the country have created a significant need for both brands and retailers to find an alternative to the 2020 buying holiday season. According to Faire’s July survey data, half of retailers and brands report that trade show cancellations have interrupted their business plans this year, with 70% of retailers and brands cancelling all business related travel. Faire Summer Market is designed to solve some of the immediate challenges related to in-person events by providing a safe and meaningful start to the holiday season while enriching the marketplace year-round with new buying tools.

During the two-day event, more than 25 brands from a diverse set of categories including TeaDrops, S’well, Twisted Wares, 1818 Farms, and Larissa Loden Jewelry will showcase their lines through live streaming, accessible to all retailers on the platform. Registration and a full schedule of the Faire Summer Market live streaming program is available online. 

IndieMe Virtual Expo
Sep 9-15, 2020

IndieMe Marketplace, LLC, an online marketplace for retailers to source handmade American and Canadian artist-made craft for over 22 years, announced that it will hold its second Virtual Expo from Sep. 9-15, 2020.

The IndieMe Marketplace has over 22 years in the handcrafted wholesale industry marketing and managing the online platform. In addition, the company has produced over 20 physical trade shows. This Virtual Expo is another option to the traditional trade shows.

Please tell us about other virtual gift markets or online showrooms?
Please leave a comment herex



Updated August 15. Always confirm show dates with the market directly before making travel plans. Dates change frequently and often. RESCHEDULED for Aug 18-24, 2020
Seattle Gift Show (Summer/Fall) 🔗 Jul 21-25, 2020
Aug 19-25, 2020
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market (Summer) 🔗
Aug 20-24, 2020
LA Mart (Summer). Los Angeles 🔗 Jul 9-13, 2020 **by appointment only
Aug 24 – 27
SHOPPE ON Virtual Gift Show 🔗
Aug 25-28, 2020
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer) + KidsWorld Market + Western Market 🔗
Aug 28-30, 2020
Rocky Mountain Gift Show. Denver 🔗
RESCHEDULED for Aug 30 – Sep 3, 2020
Las Vegas Market (Summer) 🔗 Jul 26-30, 2020
Sep 23-25, 2020
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market (Fall) 🔗
Oct 7 – 10, 2020
Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show 🔗
Oct 4–6, 2020
LA Mart (Fall). Los Angeles 🔗
Oct 5–6, 2020
Seattle Gift Show (Fall) 🔗
Oct 13 – 17, 2020
Atlanta Apparel Market (Fall) 🔗
Oct 17-21, 2020
High Point Market (Fall). Highpoint, NC 🔗
Oct 18-20, 2020
NY NOW (Fall). New York 🔗
Oct 18 – 20, 2020
National Stationery Show. New York
Oct 20-23, 2020
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Fall) 🔗
Oct 22-25, 2020
TransWorld’s Spring Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show (Fall) Rosemont, IL 🔗
Nov 4 – 7, 2020
Smoky Mountain Gift Show. Gatlinburg, TN 🔗
Dec 3-6, 2020
TransWorld’s Spring Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show (Holiday) Schaumburg, IL 🔗

For a more complete list, including small and regional shows, we recommend Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar


Aug 22-25 2020
52nd Annual AHVRP Conference & Exposition. Denver, CO 🔗
Nov 4-6, 2020
Missouri Hospital Assoc (MHA) Annual Convention & Trade Show. Osage Beach, MO 🔗 
Nov 4-6, 2020

Michigan Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals (MHVRP) Spring Conference. Shelbyville, MI🔗


When is your next state auxiliary conference?
Please leave a comment herex


Build a creative thinking environment in your shop

by Anne M. Obarski / Aug 12, 2020

Would you not agree that in these days, attitude is everything?

The attitude of your staff in your shop and those who walk through your doors can sometimes drag you down. It does not have to be that way!  Let us put some “creativity” to work in your shop!

Creativity is a valuable workplace skill. It is a way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective.  First, we need to work hard on having a positive attitude everyday as soon as you walk through the door of the shop, and one you share with everyone you meet.  It is a mindset, and everyone must be onboard.

There are three ways to experience “creativity” at work.


Face masks do not make it easy to communicate.  So, work a little harder at it.  “Smile with your eyes”!  Make-up sales are soaring for eye makeup, false eyelashes, eyebrow pencils and more because that is what we are seeing when we greet someone.  They cannot see your smile so go for it in a BIG way with your eyes!  Just because you are wearing a mask does not mean they cannot hear your voice.  People can hear a “smile” in your voice!  Connections may be 6 feet away but the warmth you bring to that conversation can be just what the doctor ordered.


Face it. Your shop is not as busy as it once was.  Now is the time to really be aware of what your customers are looking at, picking up, asking for and ultimately buying.  This information is critical to share with your manager and other key staff members who monitor the inventory of your shop.  Now is not the time to make any mistakes when it comes to buying new merchandise for the store.  Every single piece of merchandise has had to earn its right to be in the store! Sales will not save you.


Creativity shines in a store.  Be open-minded to others’ opinions when it comes to suggestions of where and how merchandise should be displayed.  Make changes frequently.  Try different ideas. Use unusual “found items” to jazz up a display.  Many of your hospital employees see your shop daily.  If you do not do anything else, make your changes for them.  Open your eyes to take a strategic look at your signing, lighting, traffic flow, window displays and overall inventory management. Want some really “out there” merchandising ideas? Go to Pinterest and search for merchandising ideas!! We all may not be HGTV savvy, but everyone can have an opinion as to what they like about how the shop looks.  The shop just might be the haven that the hospital workers appreciate more than you know.

Change your attitude and work hard on changing the space around you and you will see how you can stimulate you and others to think in creative, fresh ways about your work. 

Anne works with organizations and businesses who want to become CONTAGIOUS on purpose!  She provides strategic “contagious” ideas that will inspire your customers to refer others along the way! All as a result of their…infectious, enviable, repeatable, and remarkable, customer service. Contact her at or visit

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Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you!
– Anne Lamontt, Writer

Mill House Gifts opens in Russell Medical

by Amy Passaretti / Aug 6, 2020

To benefit Russell Medical employees and support local businesses, the hospital gift shop has been revamped to feature items from local stores and artists.

Mill House Gifts officially opened Wednesday with a ribbon cutting. Russell Medical and Russell Medical Foundation employees, shop vendors, the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce and local artists were in attendance to honor the moment.

Russell Medical, Alexander City, AL

Russell Medical, Alexander City, AL

“We wanted to bring a piece of downtown, a piece of Lake Martin, to inside the hospital,” Russell Medical Foundation director Tammy Jackson said.

There are 13 vendors taking part in the gift shop and about five local artists’ works. Even some Russell Medical employees’ work is for sale at Mill House.

“It’s all local so we’re helping those businesses too,” Jackson said. “And I love the fact that some of our employees’ stuff is here.”  Read more…


SOURCE: The Outlook

Hospital Gift Shop Best Sellers

presented by Lilly Stamets
Vendor Show & Special Offers
Recorded August 8, 2020

Lilly Stamets, renowned hospital gift and retail consultant, presents: “Hospital Gift Shop Best Sellers!”

Vendor Show & Special Offers from Macy’s, Ganz, Jose Madrid Salsa, and more!

Hosted by i3 Verticals POS

Here are last month’s articles, polls and discussions.

  • Shops that have reopened
  • VIDEO: Reopening Your Store
  • POLL: Is your gift shop currently open, closed, or a variant?
  • POLL: Is it in bad taste to sell COVID-19 novelty items?
  • Q. What is your buyer policy for purchasing merchandise?
  • The influence of team cohesiveness
  • Gift Market Calendar
  • Sales Forecasting
  • Action In Retail Free Seminar
  • Seven reasons team meetings are a waste of time
  • Virtual Showrooms
  • WEBINAR: Digital Marketing for Hospital Gift Shops
  • Buying post COVID-19: What vendors are offering good discounts?



Q. Our budget has been cut due to the Coronavirus. We are having troubles getting product and vendors don’t seem to be working with us on pricing. What vendors are offering good discounts? – Shop Manager, AZ 6/10/20
Please leave a comment herex


Not knowing what to forecast this year has been difficult but I decided to work with an open budget, not buy too much ahead. We recently expanded hours to 11 to 5 Monday-Friday with 2 shifts of volunteers a day. Number one best seller is masks!!!!! They are bigger than TY beanie babies seriously! I checked sales for the last 15 days in July and we are up $4,000 over same month last year. I made a list the other day and have 17 suppliers I am working with to keep mask in the shop. Our doors are locked to the public so most of our clientele is staff.

I am having my first virtual sale next week. It will last one week and the vendor is going to send daily email blasts and take the orders. At the end of the week I will enter the payroll deduction. I had another vendor contact me yesterday wanting to do a virtual sale. So anxious to see how this works! It’s a way I can add sales to the shop and not risk the inventory. The ways I advertise are email blasts to the organization and take preorders or let them know masks are in. I hope this is helpful. – Connie Slingluff 7/16/20

Connie, I am curious on what face masks you are selling? – Margaret Legut 7/29/20 

Margaret, I have tried 3 different vendors for masks and our favorite are from Evergreen. I have customers on a waiting list for them however I have others in the shop. Have worn many of the masks myself and I too like the Evergreen ones. – Vickie Bailey  8/15/20


How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your gift shop. Has your gift shop closed or reduced hours? What about volunteers? Are you sanitizing product? If your hospital does close the gift shop will they deploy you to another department? Are you able to work from home?

Our hospital had not been allowing visitors other than special circumstances since March. We had been allowed to reopen the gift shops for limited hours a day. This week they are changing the visitor policy to allow a visitor per patient, but visitors and patients have to remain in their rooms when possible and they are not allowed to enter the gift shops or dine in the café. We are concerned about policing this, as our doors have been open and we have two rooms so the door isn’t always in sight. We are going back closed doors/no entry and text orders. We will continue using our private employee group to sell to employees. I’m looking at ecommerce sites for the possibility of this continuing deep into fourth quarter. – Shea Parazine 7/7/20

Thank for all you do, Cindy. Reading Hospital is choosing to not open their gift shops any time in the near future. My last day is June 30th. – Eric Wininger, Gift Shops Manager, Reading Hospital 6/19/20

We’ve been open with reduced hours up until yesterday when we returned to regular weekday hours. No weekend hours yet. During our reduced hours we sold t-shirts that said “I’m sorry for what I said during Quarantine” and the staff LOVED them! Nothing insensitive to the seriousness of the situation, but our employees relish getting away for some retail therapy. They’ve been buying hand sanitizer and we’re finally getting masks in that we ordered. – Vicki Holcombe 6/16/20

Vicki, May I ask what company you bought your masks from? Are you happy with them and were they a reasonable price? Thank you!– Pam 6/16/20

They are cloth masks from Couture Tee Company out of Farmville, LA. Cost is $3.50 each. We just got them in but our manager reports they are already selling. She bought one herself and said it’s comfortable to wear. We also have some that just shipped from Calla Products out of Diablo, CA. Cost is $4.00 each for those. Both are vendors we already had a relationship with. I hope this helps.  – Vicki Holcombe 6/17/20

My company,, provides hospitals with E-Commerce, online shops…for almost 12 years…that’s all we do. We’re very popular and I’d be happy to discuss our services. Please email me or call any time. In this time of reduced foot traffic, an online shop is a great way to keep patients and their loved ones connected. Our website is Kind regards JIM – Jim Thomas 6/16/20

Currently we are open 11 to 1:30 mainly for employees since our hospital is still closed. Limited visitors are now allowed. We’ve been having fun selling when people call the shop. We don’t have fresh flowers but offer a plush and a balloon. We ask what the person may like and how much they want to spend. We deliver to the nurses on the floor, not the patient. Since the sales are time consuming, we have two volunteers each shift. Callers are so happy to get a thoughtful gift to a coworker or patient. I text them a copy of the receipt and sometimes a picture of the item sent. They love it. – Connie Slingluff 6/16/20

We are not open yet. I think the hardest part was that I went in got all the Easter out, did a deep clean, got all Of Mother’s Day out and displayed and we still aren’t open. I have ordered nothing in 2 months. I can’t order until there is money coming in again. I have a store room full of summer apparel that I will put out since the spring apparel is still hanging there. So sad!! – Vickie Bailey 5/22/20

It really is sad, Vickie! What a shame! Sending warm wishes to all you managers that are facing this same dilemma. – Cindy

Our Governor is slowly reopening the state of Arkansas and our CEO Allowed us to reopen with limited traffic and reduced hours week before last in time for Mother’s day. We have a sanitizing station at the door for people to sanitize upon entry and masks are required. Our employees have been very excited to have a bit of normalcy again and its reducing some stress. No volunteers back yet so my supervisor and I are trading off shifts. We are open 10-3 Monday through Friday. I had set up a private employees only Facebook group while we were closed so I could still sell things to the employees that way and we have found they love live videos of new merch so we are continuing posting in that group as well.  – Shea Parazine 5/18/20

Thank you for sharing, Shea. Glad to hear you have opened, even with limited hours. Also, thanks for sharing that you set up a private Facebook group using live videos of your products. Please share the link if it goes public. – Cindy

All our Volunteers LOA but myself and my wife continued to keep the gift shop open for the employees.  – James Padgett 5/18/20

So glad to hear your shop is open. What hospital are you with? – Cindy

We are closed but open to email & phone orders so that employees can get any type of item. We’ve been selling a lot of pop and candy but also cards & gifts. – Jenny Turner 4/15/20

We were told to close our Shop on March 16th until further notice (Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY) – 337 Beds. Our Association decided to donate all perishable snacks, bagged candy and even our Gourmet Chocolates to the Hospital Staff and it was distributed by their Senior Leaders. – Anne Trocano/Linda Leary

We donated all our Easter candy and any candy/snacks which will expire by June, to our staff as a Thank You for their hard work. – Anonymous

We did the same! – Anonymous

We have had to shutter our doors as of March 18. After our closing, as the manager, I decided I would call each employee or volunteer on the day they would have worked as a way to stay in contact with everyone. Some of the paid staff (myself included) have been placed in the labor pool, and do other jobs throughout the hospital, but I still make the effort each week to call and check on everyone to discuss how absolutely bored they are, do they have enough toilet paper, the puzzle they are working on, or just how much their spouse is driving them nuts! I have to say it has been beneficial to both them and me. We are bonded through our common goal, The Gift Shop, and our lives are just not the same without it.
We all anxiously await the day we can reunite and “do our job again”  – David Munger

David, this is wonderful! Thank you for sharing! – Cindy Jones

We are now taking phone orders with delivery to our patients, in-town delivery, pickup, and mail out! Business has been very slow, but I felt like I had to try something…  -Jamie Lee Hernandez

We closed the shop on March 6. We donated flowers in stock to patients and staff. Fortunately, we had not decorated for Easter yet and had little expressly Easter inventory as we don’t do very well with it. I have plenty of general inventory for Spring and Summer when we do reopen but have been leery about ordering ahead of that as I just don’t know what things will look like. In the meantime, our auxiliary has decided to donate a substantial amount of money to the hospital to be used as they see fit rather than asking for ideas and then choosing projects or equipment to fund. This seemed like the expedient as well as the more critical response to the needs of the hospital at this point but we hope to still be able to fund the scholarships we usually award to hospital employees. I made and sent Easter cards to all my volunteers and try to stay in touch with them, as many are struggling with their own or spouse’s health issues, independent of the virus. – Sandra Oldfield

I am at Northside Hospital in Atlanta. Both of our gift shops are still open. The Get Well shop in open 8 am to 8 pm M-F and 11-3 Sat and Sun, and our Baby Shop is open, but for reduced hours. We are mainly selling staff t-shirts and tons of snacks. Fortunately we have an e-commerce site and it is doing well, especially for baby gifts and flowers because no one is allowed to visit. Obviously revenues are way down, but we are still making enough to cover employee salaries and the cost of goods we are selling. The staff is very grateful that we are here, as it provides a bit of normalcy in an otherwise unthinkable situation. We have added numerous safety measures, such as a large plexiglass shield across the counter, masks, and hand sanitizer everywhere. Fortunately all of our Easter candy sold, and the rest of our Easter and spring merchandise will just be put away for next year. Since few people saw it, it will seem new to everyone. I hope you are all well and surviving this ultra-trying time! – Shauna Cox

Our shop is closed and has been since about March 16. The volunteers were all “paused” a week or so earlier and I opened a few hours for a couple days and then we were asked to close completely for a while. In a hospital, the gift shop is respite for our staff. No family members have been allowed in the building for a while now, so only staff, but they are our main customer anyway. The staff really miss the shop being open. Especially with all the stress right now, they would really love to be able to wander through the shop just to get their minds off their job for a little while. I’m hoping we will get the green light to open again soon.
I know of some hospital shops opening for a couple hours a day and only two customers at a time in the shop. Some are allowing “window shopping” and then pay via payroll deduct and what they choose is put outside the shop for them…they don’t actually get to come in the shop.
I’m really anxious to hear more from other hospital gift shops to see what they are doing and how they are doing it. The i3POS webinar yesterday had some interesting points. We all need to learn from each other and share ideas as much as we can during these difficult times. – Vesta Smith

When the time comes, consider having a ‘soft opening’ with limited hours and only allowing 10-15 shoppers in at a time. And, they must practice social distancing. Keep a box of rubber gloves and wipes at the front door and cashier counter. Good luck! – Cindy Jones

I have changed my shop into a mini mart. We have made our shop as an Essential business for our employees who are covering the Covid units. We open at 7 a.m. and close at 9p.m. I receive deliveries of food, toilet paper. I have partnered with Costco for deliveries, I moved and boxed all of our seasonal gift items. This has been a huge success. I did this with 3 of my shops. – Anonymous

As of today (3/16), our gift is closed indefinitely. We are sad. – Melodie Christal

As of 3/10 our gift shop was closed indefinitely due to the virus. Nothing we can do!! – Nan Healy

Our gift shop has been closed down, and we have no idea for how long. – Nancy Klein

All of our volunteers have been placed on LOA. I am opening the shop 10-2 M-F and paid staff 11-4 and 1-5 on weekends. I am responsible for all vending services as well so I am spending the rest of each day ordering, stocking, etc. We feel this is probably short term as we expect to be closed at some point. Sales are only on snacks, drinks, and candy so sales are definitely lower. – Anonymous

I am operating our gift shop on a limited schedule, as I am the only paid staff member and our volunteers are also on LOA. Planning to sanitize while I’m up there. Hot spots daily (if not multiple times per day). Going to see how traffic is this week and determine if I need to stay open next week as well. We have strict visitor limitations in place, expecting mainly employee traffic. – Anonymous

Our Gift shop is also closed. Volunteers are on LOA and as manager I am the only employee in Gift Shop. I am taking this time to do stock work and assist at Information Desk as needed. I plan to donate and deliver candy and popcorn to our hardworking clinical staff. – Anonymous

Our volunteers has been asked to stay home for their safety. That leaves me with 3 paid employees. We have a pharmacy in our gift shop so we cannot close, so, we have changed our hours to match the pharmacy. So, we are closing earlier Monday through Saturday and now are closed on Sunday until this passes. Stay safe everyone. – Kim DeBord

As of Saturday our Gift shop is closed. We have Easter and Spring clothes to sell – Sandy Eiffert

Members of the community should not come to the hospital unless there is a medical reason for the visit. This includes coming to the hospital solely to eat in the cafeteria or shop in the gift shop. – Janet Long, Public Relations Manager at Morris Hospital, IL

Our gift shop is closed until further notice. – Anonymous

Our shop is closed to walk in traffic. We have posted on the door and hospital site we will accept orders email, fax and by phone. They can come to the door and pick up. Only credit card and payroll payments. We will continue to accept phone orders for patient gifts. We have redone our windows to better view our products. We hope this is just for a couple weeks. Good Luck everyone. – Mary Claire

We are open but only with limited hours. All volunteers have been mandated to stay home. It is just me the manger and my assistant. Yes, we are sanitizing product and our store and our self’s and we are required to do so every hour! Yes they are saying they will deploy us to another department, we will not be able to work from home. The hospital is not allowing any visitors. Sales have been just for candy and snacks and only employees. – Colleen

We have reduced our hours to M-F 9-5 and Saturday 12-4. We don’t have any Covid-19 positive tests in our County yet. I’m sure as soon as we do, we’ll be shut down. Volunteers, at this point are able to determine for themselves if they wish to come in. – Anonymous

Our two hospital gift shops are closed indefinitely since Monday, 3/16. We only had two volunteers under the age of 60 and myself, a paid manager that would have been eligible to work. I will take this time to clean and organize our office/pricing area. I will clean and reset both shops and set up new displays. I will refresh any worn out display pieces such as repainting the racks from our fresh flower case that once the flowers were removed looked quite shabby, and not in the chic way!. I can work from home if needed, pricing smaller items, writing up future orders with catalogs or ordering online by holding the orders etc. This is a totally helpless feeling, I anxiously await our reopening! Stay healthy! – Jamie Lee Hernandez

Dignity Health Central Coast limits their hospital visitations due to flu and COVID-19 concerns All hospital gift shops are closed until further notice. Washington Health System is suspending some services, including closing the gift shop.  – Cindy Jones

Has your gift shop closed or reduced hours? Has you volunteer department closed? If so, are you as a gift shop manager able to work from home? If your hospital does close the gift shop will they deploy you to another department? Thanks! – Colleen DeSimone, Gift Shop Coordinator,Orange Regional Medical Center Gift Shop

We have been closed for over a week now as we’re staffed entirely by volunteers who are not allowed at the hospital. All visitors except end of life situations or parents of young patients are banned. We distributed the flowers, our only perishable item, to patients who would enjoy them before closing our doors. Our health fair, regional auxiliary meeting and volunteer appreciation lunch are all cancelled and we have no idea when we will re-open. Our hospital is a small rural one with 19 beds. – Sandra Oldfield

We have been closed since Monday. The President felt that if someone who was infected came in contact with multiple items it would be very difficult to disinfect everything they touched. I sent out a mass email to all employees and let them know that if they wanted to buy anything I can get it together and just charge their badge and meet them at the back door. No need to step foot into the shop. It’s working out really well. – Anonymous

What is everyone doing about all of their spring merchandise, just taking a loss?  I am in the process of removing all the Easter merchandise, plush, etc. and storing them for next year. I plan to keep the spring items in the shop. BTW, we have been closed since March 10th. All volunteers on LOA. As the only paid employee among our volunteers I am performing all tasks that our volunteers were doing, mail, surveys, front desk, etc. Stay well everyone. – Sarah F

We are still open, with only two paid employees disinfecting everything we can. We are only selling drinks, food and candy also. – Anonymous

Our gift shop closed officially 3/17 after all the volunteers called off. I am the only paid employee and am currently working from home because I have a sinus infection and am not allowed back into the hospital until I am 100%. Once I am 100% I will be allowed back into the hospital to work on various projects in the hospital and help in other areas where there are shortages. I feel helpless being at home and know that under any other situation I would have already been back to work with the tail end of an infection. Stay safe everyone. – Anonymous

We have a paid staff person in our gift shop so between her and a few die-hard volunteers, it has been open with reduced hours. Our volunteer services is not paused except for the teen program. We will keep it open as long as we can for our staff. We have been told that all staff are essential and no one will be staff reduced at this time, we will be deployed to help elsewhere. – Nichole

Are any of you doing delivery service to hospital employees in various departments and to patient floors? If so, how is that working? – Cindy Jones, Editor

So we have been closed since 3/13. Volunteers are on LOA. I am still here because we do flowers. The shop is closed. I have tried to let employees know that we have gifts if they need them. Very sad. No traffic on our main street. Stay Healthy! – Anonymous

We had to close the Gift Shop per our Executive Team Leaders on March 24. I’m wondering what everyone else, that has had to close, is doing with your Easter product, especially Easter candy? My thought is to hold it over until next year since I hadn’t had it out long enough to sell much of it. I’m pretty sure we won’t be open before Easter at this point. We plan to move to a new location in August and will have limited storage at the new location. – Vickie Bailey, Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. 90 beds

© 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.

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