Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | August 15, 2022 💮

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

AUGUST 15, 2022

Helen Salzman Boutique, Stanford Women’s Cancer Center, Palo Alto, CA

A place of refuge, of safety: the hospital gift shop

Never doubt the immeasurable impact your gift shop has on your hospital

My career in medicine is always introducing me to new emotional experiences, but nothing will ever make me feel the way I do when I walk into a hospital gift shop. It’s like stepping through an interdimensional portal; the frenetic, anxious atmosphere of the hospital gives way to the anodyne hum of small-stakes commerce so seamlessly it’s almost jarring.

When I enter the gift shop, I’m suddenly in a world where I never have to hear bed alarms or overhead code blue announcements – only the soft rock offerings of 93.9 LiteFM. Tubes of every Pringles flavor climb the walls like ivy and nobody’s talking about vital signs. I can take in a deep, carefree breath of air that smells like greeting cards and tell myself that in this moment there are no major medical decisions to be made; I’m just a guy on a little errand.

– Ben Goldenberg, internist and infectious diseases fellow.

When things became overwhelming, I, too, sought the parallel universe of the hospital gift shop. The hospital lobby was a wormhole, a gateway to a clean, quiet, fresh, and shiny world. At its center was the refuge, the gift shop.

I remember low-pitched voices and elevator music; the rustling of wrapping paper. Colorful cut blooms dancing in fancy vases with fresh floral arrangements safe behind glass doors—the calming scent of candles and soaps—rose, eucalyptus, lemon. And the gift of chocolate. High-quality candy not stale from a vending machine. The excuse I gave to “run down to the gift shop.”

This world was not my home, and I knew that I was needed elsewhere, back in the chaos to do my best to help the sick, the injured, and the mentally disturbed. So I gobbled my chocolate and walked away, knowing this place would always be there.

– Maureen Hirthler, retired physician.

SOURCE: Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine

Ten ways to increase store visibility, internally and externally

How important is store visibility? After all, gift shops have the luxury of a captured audience just by virtue of their location, right. Not entirely. Once a visitor steps into the hospital, what actually drives them into your shop? Are they spending hours in a waiting room when they could be shopping? Are you creating awareness outside the hospital? Visibility and awareness are essential components to any successful retail operation. Here are a few strategies to increase it:

  1. Ask payroll to insert an ad or reminder about the shop in their pay notices. Include a link highlighting “Payroll Deduction” and a link to your online store. 
  2. Partner with the cafeteria on promos to increase shop traffic. “BOGO Bagels! Buy a bagel and get 15% off one greeting card at the Gift Shop!”
  3. Ask parking valets to include a small shop coupon with their tickets or receipts.
  4. The gift shop should have a dedicated webpage on the hospital website where you can list hours, directions, contact information, etc, and also showcase products, sales, and events.  
  5. Make sure the hospital website’s top-level navigation menu contains a link “Gift Shop”. Also include a link in the navigation footer on the homepage, as well as any other locations. 

“When I’m trying to write about hospital gift shops it’s really hard to find them sometimes.”

– Editor in Chief, Lenise Willis, Gifts & Decorative Accessories
  1. Don’t let hospital employees forget about the gift shop. Place regular inserts, notices, ads, discounts, etc. in hospital admin communications.
  2. Contact individual departments to advertise the shop in their department communications.
  3. Get your shop on social media. Two essential platforms for retail are Facebook and Instagram.
  4. Place (professional) signage around the hospital for the gift shop. As many as your hospital will allow. Especially areas with long waits like the ER, surgery, inpatient floors, plus restrooms, cafeteria, vending machines and elevators. Signage helps remind visitors about your shop. Shopping is a terrific way to pass time.
  5. What is the primary source for your customer base: hospital website, signage, email, staff referrals, friend or family, social media, etc? How can you know what’s working if you don’t know how they found you. Run an informal survey for 2-3 days. Ask customers how they found your shop. Staff can jot down answers on a sheet at the register. Collect 30-40 answers to get a good representation. 

Creating awareness for you shop is imperative, especially with today’s shift to online consumerism. 


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Product Pick: Luckables

Whatever the reason, any hospital visit warrants a little bit of good luck. Different from generic plush, Luckables give the gift of luck and encouragement when it’s needed most. Each Luckable represents an iconic lucky symbol, or animal, from around the world. Not to mention, they’re irresistibly soft! 

According to the Chinese zodiac, it’s the Year of the Tiger! Tai the Tiger is a unique and meaningful new baby gift, honoring their year of birth. Tai is only available through the end of 2022. Please contact Heather at to place your order. 

Patient care products

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop has created a nice selection of patient care products in their online store.

Patient care products. Click to expand.

In case you missed it last month, they recently won Gifts & Decorative Accessories’ 2022 Retail Excellence Award recipient for #1 Top Specialty Store. The shop was recognized for creating displays that tell a story and have an educational component – engage customers! – and using their new online store to accelerate their brand outside of the hospital. Extra kudos to Shellee Laubersheimer, Mamta Kaur, Khatra Latifi, Teresa Cheung and their team!

Click to see the rest of Stanford Health Care Gift Shop’s online store. It’s easy to see why they won!


Back-To-School Season
Sep 5 – Labor Day
Sep 9 – Star Trek Day
Sep 11 – Grandparents Day
Sep 22 – First Day of Fall
Sep 25-27 – Rosh Hashanah
Oct 4 – Yom Kippur begins
Oct 10 – Ntnl Handbag Day
Oct 10 – Columbus Day
Oct 13 – No Bra Day 🤣
Oct 15 – Sweetest Day
Oct 17 – Boss’s Day
Oct 31 – Halloween
Nov 11 – Veterans Day
Nov 25 – Thanksgiving
Nov 26 – Black Friday
Nov 28 – Hanukkah Begins
Nov 29 – Cyber Monday

Sometimes we include some pretty unique “holidays”. Use them to help generate off-season sales. “National Sunglasses Day – 15% Today Only!”. Build some fun displays. Be creative! Put all umbrellas on sale for National Pina Colada Day! ⛱️

Volunteers keep Coastal Carolina Hospital gift shop running during pandemic

The Coastal Carolina Hospital auxiliary gift shop in Hardeeville celebrated its one-year anniversary of reopening after COVID-19 closures at the end of May.

Volunteer Diane Berlingo and gift shop manager Dotty Gottdenker at the Coastal Carolina Gift Shop.

Volunteer Diane Berlingo and gift shop manager Dotty Gottdenker at the Coastal Carolina Gift Shop.

The gift shops at Coastal Carolina and Hilton Head hospitals were some of the first volunteer departments to reopen, according to manager Dotty Gottdenker. They closed in May 2020 and could only open following strict precautions.

“We have some loyal volunteers that came back to help us open up; it was slow going. We’re still trying to get going like everyone else after COVID,” Gottdenker said.

Gottdenker said her team is understaffed and the shop hours had to be cut down. “The volunteers that are loyal to our gift shop will put in extra time and extra days, but we would like to be open full-time,” Gottdenker said.

Gottdenker said the returning volunteers have been able to keep the shop running at some capacity, but when there aren’t volunteers available to run the shop, it remains closed.

The two gift shops are not-for-profit and all proceeds go toward the Auxiliary Caring Touch Program. This program assists people discharged from the hospital who can’t afford their prescription medicine or medical equipment.

Gottdenker said they also offer a free car seat for babies born in the hospital whose families can’t afford a one.

SOURCE: Bluffton Today

‘Going to Market’ tips!

  • Before going to gift market, prepare a list for which categories/departments generate the most sales. Then, try to find really interesting items for those departments. 
  • Create a list of vendors that you want to see and items to look for. Organize it by building and floor.
  • Always determine where items will be displayed before buying!

A. ISO a “hip kits” vendor for hip replacement patients?

Q. Has anyone found a good source for “hip kits” for post-hip replacement patients? They contain assistive items like sock aid, dressing stick, long handled sponge? – Jill Dugaw, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Spartanburg, SC. 500 beds. 6/22/22

We have ordered from Performance Health (866-402-8720)  for several years. Our hip replacement patients get an insert with their details in the folder they receive during their orientation class prior to surgery. – Brenda Welcher, AdventHealth Zephyrhills, Zephyrhills, FL. 154 beds. 7/22/22

We use Performance Health. Item #081286368. I think they cost $11.84 and we retail for about $35.00. – Margaret Legut, Elmhurst Hospital, Elmhurst, IL. 259 beds. 7/19/22

-> There is still time to comment. We’ll add your response!

Connect. Share. Grow. ♡

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Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
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Q. Vendors for lobby sales?

Q. We are in need of vendors for lobby sales that handle purses and accessories and also a sneaker vendor. Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated! – Lucille Roberts, UHS/Binghamton General Hospital, Binghamton, NY. 7/15/22

We have partnered with In the Bag, for one of our shops. They are based out of New Jersey, I am located in Ohio. They have great bags, purses and accessories. Always a hit with our staff when he comes. – Lanie Ray, Fairfield Medical Center, Lancaster, OH. 8/8/22

Thanks, I appreciate your response. It is now Melissa Blau at In the Bag and she won’t do sales unless provided 12 tables. – Lucille Roberts, UHS/Binghamton General Hospital, Binghamton, NY. 8/8/22


Hi Lucille, we have found that there are less and less vendors doing lobby/on-site sales. These were obviously not allowed during the pandemic. Many invested in online stores to accommodate the shift to online shopping. With all that transpired due to the pandemic, Gold Coast Promotions totally changed their fundraising format to an online format, holding over 100 online events in 2021. Here are examples of online fundraisers for UMHS and Memorial Hospital Gulfport. You can read suggestions from readers for other online fundraiser vendors in the April, 2021 issue.  

Maybe onsite lobby sales are picking up again?! We hope other readers will chime in!

Who is a good lobby-sale vendor for purse and accessories?
Who is a good lobby-sale vendor for purse and accessories?x

Do you know of a vendor doing lobby sales? For purse and accessories?

Thank you!

Connect. Share. Grow. ♡

What’s hot for Christmas 2022

Trendbook shared their forecast for the next Christmas decor trends for 2022-2023. We think the neons and lavendar might be too short lived and have narrow appeal to a select audience. Always use caution when investing too much inventory in anything trendy.

Ocean Blush Shells

A consequence of the awareness and more sustainable approaches to interior design, the next home decor holiday trend will be inspired by the ocean habitat. Ocean hues and natural materials that can be used in any Christmas tree or decor piece, with more sustainable materials.



Greeneries in a larger scale, will also be an ongoing trend, for christmas and the entire year.


Luxury Metallics

It aint christmas without a little sparkle! In this decor trend, to embelish your christmas we’ll see a mixture a metallics combined with neutrals, for a more luxury interior.



The forecast for 2023 is the use of lavender color, whether in design or interior design. A purifying, semi-pastel tone will stand out in the next season. TrendBook shows us an inspirational Christmas mood board with this color trend.



With vibrant color options, and lighting elements proper for a funky cheerful Christmas trend season.


SOURCE: TrendBook

How to Conduct a Physical Inventory: A Step-by-Step Guide

It is crucial for hospital gift shops to take an annual physical inventory at the end of each fiscal year, preferably on the last day of the shop’s fiscal year. Taking inventory is one of the most important “accounting” activities a shop can perform.

How to Conduct a Physical Inventory is a 10-page step-by-step guide to conducting your shop’s annual physical inventory. It includes:

  • Why a physical inventory is crucial
  • How to prepare your shop for the inventory
  • What to do on inventory day
  • A Physical Inventory Worksheet template
  • How to calculate Per Category and Total Shop Inventory
  • How to convert figures from retail to cost
  • Category Space Allocation based on Profit Margins
  • Formula for calculating Cost of Goods Sold
  • Why take inventory at retail prices

Also available: Guide to Calculating Shop Profitability, the Gift Shop Twelve-Month Action Plan, and How To Implement An Employee Payroll Deduction System.

Guide to Calculating Shop Inventory


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New shop opening: Hydra Health at Henry Cancer Center

Specialty boutique will bring everyday care essentials to cancer center

Henry Cancer Center at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center opened a new Hydra Health gift shop on July 25, 2022. The new specialty boutique will bring everyday care essentials to the cancer center. The gift shop, is designed to support the patient journey by providing specialty cancer products and a place of refuge for patients and caregivers alike. 

Whether it’s everyday essentials, personal care items, apparel, nourishing snacks and refreshments, or specialty cancer care items, there is something for everyone available through Hydra Health. There are also work-friendly nooks in the lounge, a beauty bar, fitness area and a respite room for meditation and rest.  


**Always double-check show dates**Aug 14-17, 2022
NY NOW, New York
Aug 18-21, 2022
New Orleans Gift & Jewelry Show
Aug 23-26, 2022
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Sep 7-13, 2022
IndieMe Marketplace Expo
Sep 13-15, 2022
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Sep 20-23, 2022
Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show
Oct 3-5, 2022
LA Mart
Nov 1-3, 2022
Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry
Jan 4-10, 2023
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Jan 10-16, 2023
Atlanta Market
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar for smaller local and regional shows.

Did you miss last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions?

  • You need an awful lot of heart
  • Name your shop’s top categories with the best profit margins. Go!
  • A. What gift markets do you attend?
  • National Candle Association: Fire hazard warning
  • 12-Month Action Plan for Hospital Gift Shops
  • A. Is there a better method than handwriting POs?
  • Q. ISO a “hip kits” vendor for hip replacement patients?
  • Why have a monthly buyer’s meetings
  • 10 Commandments of Good Customer Service
  • Advertising: IRS rules for hospital gift shops
  • Stanford Health Care Gift Shop wins Retail Excellence Award!
  • Gift Market Calendar



Q. Hello! I’m a new shop manager. I’m trying to decide which gift shows I should attend or, are you mainly shopping online now? What markets does everyone attend? Should I go to a few small shows or one large show? What is your travel budget? I am in the midwest, but can go anywhere. Thanks! – Lindsey. 6/2/22

The January show in Atlanta is a must for me and I complete the majority of my Fall and Holiday buying at that show. I also attend 1-2 smaller regional shows at the Minneapolis Gift Mart. For apparel, I attend the Atlanta apparel market. – Sabra Shields, Sanford USD Medical Center, Sioux Falls, SD. 450 beds. 6/22/22

I go to the Atlanta Mart in January and buy all of my fall and Christmas for the year and some everyday as well. I get great display ideas and seeing the items in person vs. a catalog makes a big difference. I look for companies that offer less minimums on items as we are a smaller shop. I know that I can usually sell 6 or 8 pieces of one item but not 12. – Diane Honsberger, Director of Volunteers & Gift Shop, Mercy St. Anne Hospital, Toledo, OH. 150 beds. 6/21/22

We attend the Americas Mart Gift Show in Atlanta. – Laura Keipert, Supervisor, Retail Services, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, GA 6/20/22

We generally go to Las Vegas, for three days. Our budget for two people was around $800. Show specials more than made up for those costs. Haven’t had travel budget for two years though and hope to go next January. The summer gift show usually coincides with the ASD show, so it is a two-for-one trip. – Karla Glanzman, Gift Shop Manager at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, WA. 407 beds. 6/17/22 

We try to do one gift show a year. We have done Dallas, Atlanta and Vegas. Set-up at Vegas was amazing. LOVED IT! Atlanta was the best so far though. – Tricia Rochman, Carbondale Memorial Hospital, Carbondale, IL. 154 beds. 4/21/22

We send about three volunteers to Atlanta every January for about five days. This has made all the difference in our gift shop. They shop primarily for the holidays throughout the year but do order some everyday items as well. It really saves on meeting with the vendors on a regular basis. – Ramona Kennedy, Lifeline Program Manager & Auxiliary Liaison, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, NY. 115 beds. 6/16/22

Atlanta Gift Market. The main one to go to is January, but I’ve also gone to the last two in July. I usually stay 3-4 nights, but don’t have a monetary budget for the exact amount. – Roberta Gilbert, Gift Shop Coordinator, St.Claire Regional Medical Center. Morehead, KY. 159 beds. 6/16/22

We have attended the Las Vegas Gift Show and have found great success. Over several years, we have met up with great suppliers, reinforced current relationships and had a lot of fun. This show has a wide range of merchants and the options are fantastic for whatever you might be looking for. Personally I love seeing the FULL range of a product line. Go to shows, they make a world of difference in your buying habits. – Lorene Oates, Volunteer Coordinator, West Valley Medical Center, Caldwell, ID. 150 beds. 6/15/22

I have attended the Las Vegas World Market’s January show for about six years. I previously attended the Atlanta show. The airfare is better for me on the West Coast and the hotels are less expensive than even Seattle. My travel budget is $2,000 or less and I stay the full time. I can accomplish more in 5 days than I could in a month of seeing reps in the shop or ordering on line. Not to mention seeing product in person can completely change your perspective. It also gives you a chance to meet other gift shop buyers and learn from each other. I’ve made connections that are on going. – Molly Forni, Gift Shop Manager, St. John Providence Health System, Portland, OR. 266 beds. 6/15/22

Thanks to everyone who submitted a comment!


How do managers/buyers purchase goods for their shop? We hand write purchase orders then send them to our in-hospital purchasing agent. In some instances orders can be up to 11 handwritten purchase orders. Would love to know if there is a way to minimize writing all these POs? Thanks! – Sarah Folio, Volunteer Coordinator/Gift Shop Manager, Garrett Regional Medical Center, Oakland, MD. 4/24/22

If you do not have a computer system that manages inventory and has a purchase order module, I would recommend that you create a template in Excel where you can easily type all of your line items. In creating a template you can put in all of your store information, terms etc. so as not to have to rewrite that with each order. – Lisa Garland, Woman’s Hospital, Baton Rouge, LA. 6/21/22

We also use an electronic PO system for our larger vendors. However, due to the nature of our business and many of our vendors that are not huge entitles, we still use handwritten PO’s most of the time – Lee Patterson, Ascension St Vincent’s, Birmingham. 400 beds. 6/16/22

We still hand write POs – Nancy Williams, Director Volunteer Services, Piedmont Healthcare, Atlanta, GA. 6/20/22

Still use handwritten POs – Peter Waugh, Memorial Hospital, North Conway, NH. 25 beds. 5/18/22

Our hospital uses an electronic PO system through a company called Lawson. We prepare a blanket PO for the year in advance for most of our vendors. When it’s time to order we already have a PO in place so ordering is quick and easy. – Judy Stallings. 5/16/22


Q. What are some alternatives to live flowers? We are located in a small town with two flower shops and neither want to partner with us. We currently are offering gift baskets but we still have people that want flowers. Thank you in advance! – Lanie Ray, Fairfield Medical Center, Lancaster, OH. 222 beds. 3/28/22

We have fresh flowers available but also stock K&K Interior silks for critical care areas. I’ve been stopped many times by staff when delivering the K&K “Real Touch” silks to these units. Staff can’t believe they aren’t fresh flowers. The patient is happy they will last long enough to take them home and so is the purchaser. – Molly Forni, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center,  Portland, OR. 500 beds. 7/20/22

FreshCut Paper has been a phenomenal alternative for live plants/flowers – specifically for our patients in ICU and TLC. I find myself reordering twice a month. -Meggen Heuss, University of WI Hospital & Clinics, Madison WI. 650 beds. 4/25/22

We have a family member of a volunteer who makes “arrangements” using multi colored buttons, colored wire, and fabrics shaped like flowers and flower buds. They are very popular. – Peter Waugh, Memorial Hospital, North Conway, NH. 25 beds. 4/21/22

We do well with Sullivan Gift for artificial flowers and succulents. Great selection.  – Cherie Towers, Redlands Community Hospital, Redlands, CA. 229 beds. 4/21/22

K&K Interiors has amazing real-touch silk flowers. They are the best flowers we have seen on the silk side. Also, Evergreen has a single lilly in a mini vase that is amazing. Otherwise, the selection is small.  – Tricia Rochman, Carbondale Memorial Hospital, Carbondale, IL. 154 beds. 4/21/22

We use 1800 flowers. They come in a box already arranged. We open them up, clip the ends and put them in vases. We use cello wrap and bows to decorate. It works really well! – Amy, 4/21/22

Spotted at CGH Medical Center: Lego Flower Bouquets. Expensive, but very unique! – Nicole, Cindy Jones Associates. 4/19/22

FreshCut Paper flowers have done well for us. They are beautiful and last forever!  – Dawn Shumaker, Clinton Memorial Hospital, Wilmington, OH. 4/18/22

Live plants or felt flowers.  – Sarah McManus. 4/15/22

We sell FreshCut Paper flowers. They are easy to sell for phone orders when a room can’t have fresh flowers. and hospital staff buys them to mail as they come with an envelope also. Admin staff also buy them to have on their desks.  – Linda Armstrong, Gift Shop Supervisor, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Tacoma, WA. 4/15/22

Nothing replaces real flowers but silk flowers are at least something to let the patient know you are thinking about them, this is what I tell our customers. We do well with Primitives by Kathy or the bendable flowers we buy at Kelli’s. – Sophia, Community Memorial Health System, Ventura, CA. 4/15/22

Our shop used to sell silk flowers. These were great especially for ICU patients that couldn’t have live flowers. The biggest expense is the flowers themselves, but if you can hit up sales from different craft shops, it’s a great value. Kerri Clark, Community Hospital, Munster, IN. 498 beds. 4/15/22

Natural Fragrance Roses – live fragrant flowers but hydrated to last 4 months. The “no hassle” flowers + fragrance. – Petrus Persoon, CEO, Natural Fragrance Rose. 4/15/21

We sell live flowers, but also sell FreshCut Paper flowers as a cheaper alternative. They can even be mailed for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. We just received our second order. – Craig McKneely, Scripps Health, San Diego, CA. 4/15/22

Ganz has acrylic Posey Pots! – Suzanne, Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital, Sayre, PA. 4/15/21

Do you know of a good alternatives to live flowers? You can still respond to the question here.

Connect. Share. Grow. ♡




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Carefully crafted activity kits to bring joy and fun to children. Gifts for hospitalized kids like activity boxes, kits with items to decorate a hospital room, conversation starters and much more.

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for Hospital Gift Shops | | Wholesale Catalog


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