Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, Saskatoon, Canada

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

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.



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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


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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

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. 

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?
Enter comment herex

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

Thank you!



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
Apr 11-15, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Winter)
Jan 24-28, 2021
May 3-6, 2021
Atlanta Spring Cash & Carry
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
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


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– 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!


Create a ‘spend-worthy’ impression of your shop

‘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


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

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



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?
Write your comment herex

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!


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.


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?
Leave comment herex

Comments make the world go around…and helps everyone run their shops better!

Now, click the green comment thingy and type away!


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!


 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?
Please leave a feedback on thisx

Right about now is where you leave a comment – here or at the bottom of the newsletter.

Your Fellow Gift Shop Manager!


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?
Please leave a feedback on thisx


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! 🎉


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


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.

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