CARTI Cancer Center Gift Shop, Little Rock, AR

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | June 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 coral colored comment tags throughout the newsletter to comment or send them to

JUNE 15, 2020

CARTI Cancer Center Gift Shop, Little Rock, AR
CARTI Cancer Center Gift Shop, Little Rock, AR



Cindy Jones Assoc strives to provide a place here where managers can come together, gain a sense of community, and exchange valuable insights from one another through this time. Thank you to everyone who’s commented and shared over the last few months. As the saying goes, “We’ve got this!”

What’s been your experience since reopening?
What’s working? What should other managers beware of?

What vendors are offering the best discounts right now?
What is the reaction of medical staff coming into your shop?

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



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

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.


Will the pandemic change how retailers buy?

Once they re-open, around half of retailers expect to require inventory within the first four weeks, with all respondents indicating that they plan to buy within 18 weeks of re-opening. Sixty four percent of retailers expect sourcing to focus on core and best-selling products from vendors with whom they have a pre-existing relationship. Vendor selection will be also influenced by incentives (extended terms, free freight and discounts) as well as immediacy of product availability.

SOURCE: Earnshaw’s Magazine


Is it in bad 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.


What is the annual cost of your POS system?

POS Cost


Introducing Facebook Shops

Facebook Shops make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. Creating a Facebook Shop is free and simple. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalog and then customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand. This means any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.

And just like when customer’s are in a physical store and need to ask for help, in Facebook Shops they’ll be able to message the shop to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more. 

Do you think Facebook Shops would work for your gift shop? Let us know.

Job Openings

Manager Gift Shop & Volunteer Program
Hackensack Meridian Health, Edison, NJ

Gift Shop Sales Associate
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Gift Shop Associate
Northwell Health, New York, NY

Gift Shop Assistant Manager
FirstHealth of the Carolinas, Pinehurst

Gift Shop Manager
Sheppard Pratt Health System, Baltimore, MD

Gift Shop Associate
Wyndham Destinations, Las Vegas, NV

Gift Shop Manager
Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH

Gift Shop/Volunteer Services Coordinator
Integris Health, Enid, OK

Gift Shop Sales Associate
Aultman Hospital, Canton, OH

Gift Shop Manager
JAARS, Waxhaw, NC

Manager – Gift Shop
Houston Methodist, Atascocita, TX

Gift Shop Coordinator
Lake District Hospital, Chicago, IL

PART II: Why write your own purchase orders?

by Cindy Jones, Editor and Publisher 💮

Last month we learned about the benefits of writing your own purchase orders, vital components, and the purchasing power that stems from having your own purchase orders. We continue with more helpful insights on writing and executing your own purchase orders. 

Terms & Conditions
While you may not be able to take advantage of all your ‘Terms & Conditions’, vendors will never refuse to take your order because of that. Be sure to know their “Terms & Conditions”. Make sure that the ‘Terms & Conditions’ on your Order Form are better than what you’ll see on your vendor’s order forms.

Make an extra copy of the order, one for ‘Receiving & Marking’ and one for the buyer to keep at their desk for quick and easy reference. Receiving and Marking will now have a familiar order form and will see clearly what is written, therefore, fewer mistakes. Since the order is already retailed, it can quickly and efficiently be deducted from your OTB.

Tired of Back Orders?
Be sure your purchase order includes your buying policy, especially as it relates to back orders. If you have a shop customized order form, you may want to add the following to it:

“Please honor cancellation dates. Notify us immediately if you are unable to complete the order by the specified date. Please ship complete. Shipper is responsible for freight charges on shipments with a wholesale merchandise value of less than $100.”

Of course, if you really don’t mind bits and pieces of your order straggling in, then you shouldn’t have to pay the shipping on each item shipped separately. After all, it isn’t your shop’s fault that they can’t ship the entire order all together. Just don’t pay it!

Mark up for Profit
Hospital gift shops today cannot make a profit on an initial overall 2.5 times mark on. After mark downs, the gross margin is reduced.

A profitable shop must have a greater gross margin than expenses. To accomplish this, shops must take a higher mark up from the beginning, purchase enough desirable off price merchandise or have less markdown to create a profit.

Buyers should take an average initial mark up of 3 times cost. You will not achieve this with every vendor, however, it is achievable.

Keep in mind, a mark down is the most important tool you have to move a mistake out the door. (Buying mistakes happen even with the best buyers.) Buying a bad style, color, size, quantity, wrong timing, or bad fit, will always happen. Don’t fret, recognize mistakes early and mark down immediately!

Inventory Turnover Ratio
The measurement of turns is an important retail calculation. Your total inventory should turn over at least 4 times annually.

Annual Turns 🎯
Sales (for period)  / Average Inventory (for same period)

Unfortunately a vast majority of shops’ turns are too low as evidenced by shop storage rooms bulging with unsold and tired looking merchandise.
High turns mean you are using your inventory dollars efficiently, your stock looks fresh, and you probably need less storage space. On the other hand, rapid turnover can put a strain on staff who need to unpack, price and process more purchase orders and receiving documents, and deal with all the activity associated with frequent deliveries.

Your shop’s square footage is also a factor affecting turns. A shop that is too big for the hospital’s customer traffic potential may have a slower turn rate because it requires excess inventory to keep the shop looking full and inviting.

Your inventory (at retail) should be approximately 20% of total sales. However, it is important to keep inventory as low as possible while still increasing sales. This means buying merchandise that will sell fast. Lower inventories can be maintained by turning the inventory fast.

Read  PART I: Why Write Your Own Purchase Orders?  in last month’s issue.



Updated June 15. Always confirm show dates with the market directly before making travel plans. Dates change frequently and often. Jun 23-26, 2020
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market + KidsWorld Market + Gift & Home Open House **select showrooms only 🔗
Jul 9-13, 2020 RESCHEDULED for Aug 20-24, 2020
LA Mart (Summer). Los Angeles 🔗
Jul 14–20, 2020 RESCHEDULED for Aug 13-18, 2020
Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market (Summer) 🔗
Jul 21-23, 2020
Dallas Apparel & Accessories + Gift & Home Open House **select showrooms by appt 🔗
Jul 21-25, 2020 RESCHEDULED for Aug 18-24, 2020
Seattle Gift Show (Summer/Fall) 🔗
Jul 23–26, 2020
TransWorld’s Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show (now Summer). Chicago 🔗
Jul 26-30, 2020 RESCHEDULED for Aug 30 – Sep 3, 2020
Las Vegas Market (Summer) 🔗
Aug 8-12, 2020
NY NOW (Summer). New York 🔗
CANCELLED Aug 9-12, 2020
Toronto Gift + Home Market (Fall) 🔗
Aug 19-25, 2020
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market (Summer) 🔗
Aug 25-28, 2020
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer) + KidsWorld Market + Western Market 🔗
Aug 28-30, 2020
Rocky Mountain Gift Show. Denver 🔗
Sep 23-25, 2020
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market (Fall) 🔗
Oct 4–6, 2020
LA Mart (Fall). Los Angeles 🔗
Oct 5–6, 2020
Seattle Gift Show (Fall) 🔗
Oct 17-21, 2020
High Point Market (Fall). Highpoint, NC 🔗
Oct 18-20, 2020
NY NOW (Fall). New York 🔗
Oct 20-23, 2020
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market 🔗
Oct 22-25, 2020
TransWorld’s Spring Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show (Fall) Rosemont, IL 🔗


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🔗


Your shop’s mission

by Cindy Jones, Editor and Publisher 💮

A hospital gift shop is primarily an extension of the hospital and is an important source of income for the hospital. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the hospital administration and the hospital gift shop manager to collaborate on a policy that will reflect their community of interest and purpose.

The use of the term “hospital gift shop” has specific meaning and carries with it important obligations to the public to ensure quality merchandise and service excellence and to foster a climate of integrity within the hospital.

Management and Personnel
Since public perception of the hospital gift shop is closely tied to the hospital, it is the responsibility of gift shop personnel to be fully aware of the source, quality and worth of all items sold. All hospital gift shop personnel, whether paid or volunteer, are representatives of the hospital.

It is unethical for hospital gift shop personnel to use their hospital gift shop affiliation for personal profit or to engage in any activity that may compromise the integrity of the institution or undermine the confidence of the hospital gift shop staff and the public.

Diversity and the Hospital Gift Shop
A hospital gift shop enjoys a unique opportunity to serve a diverse clientele. For that reason, the shop is obligated to treat everyone with the highest level of respect and to offer products that are safe and of the highest quality.

Post your mission statement where it is visible to visitors and employees. Or post a sign that says, “Thank you for your patronage. Every purchase you make supports patient care at the hospital.” Some gift shops print their mission on shopping bags to remind customers of their mission.

Direct Ship Programs

GiftBEAT has compiled a comprehensive list of the vendors offering direct-ship programs for store owners, along with the program details and web links, on one convenient page. The Direct-Ship Vendor list is a free resource with over 50 different vendors and counting.

Selling behind a mask: Connecting while social distancing

by Liz Cicowski, President, Learning Means Business, Inc. / Jun 16, 2020

How will you and your staff connect with your customers behind a mask? This may present several challenges, whether you’re open right now or reopening soon. Liz Cichowski, of Retail Customer Experience, writes about two very different shopping experiences at retail stores where employees were wearing face masks. She writes: 

“Going back to the two stores I visited, in both stores every employee was wearing a mask in proper fashion. That what’s changed since the CDC guidelines came out. Here’s the difference: In the one store I visited, I was sincerely greeted by every employee I encountered. They looked up from cleaning and stocking to say hello. I could tell they were happy to see me because they were smiling with their eyes. I returned the favor by asking them how they were doing, whether they were comfortable wearing a mask all day, etc. It felt good to connect! We were all happier as a result.

In the other store, I was ignored. This did not feel good. I don’t think the employees felt good either. Most humans are social beings, and we thrive on social connections. If you want YOUR customers to shop with and buy from you, your employees need to make human connections. This is true even when someone has ordered online and is simply doing curbside or in-store pickup.

Masks and social distancing are what’s changed as a result of COVID-19. What remains the same: Genuine connections are still required to create sales and to capture market share from your competition. The question is:How do you connect socially from behind a mask?

Tips for selling behind a mask

Here are some tips for engaging with customers from behind a mask, whether an employee is selling from six feet away, a cashier is ringing sales and selling loyalty programs, or someone is running curbside pickup and stocking shelves. Regardless of any technology you may have implemented (e.g., BOPIS or buy online-pick up in store, scheduling in-store appointments online, etc.), I believe these guidelines still apply.

  • Greet every customer with a genuine smile. In most cultures, a smile means you’re happy to see someone. When people can’t see your mouth, your eyes reveal a genuine smile. Look up from what you’re doing, smile, say “Hi!” or “Thanks for coming in!” and BE HAPPY TO SEE YOUR CUSTOMERS. They are the only reason your store is open. Period.
  • Speak clearly. There is now a door greeter at my local grocery store. I call this new role “the mask police.” One greeter, Tanner, greets me with a HUGE grin and a friendly “Hello. Welcome!” And I can understand everything Tanner says to me. The other greeters frown, and I can’t understand a word they say. I don’t like being greeted by the other greeters. But I LOVE being greeted by Tanner. I want to meet Tanner’s parents and congratulate them! The bottom line: It is EXTREMELY frustrating when customers can’t hear you. When customers CAN hear you, they are much happier.
  • Ask questions to check for understanding. A lot of customers may be too embarrassed (or in too much of a rush) to tell you they didn’t understand. Ask questions like, “Does this match up with what you were looking for?” “You said XYZ was important to you, I think this is great. What do you think?” “Hey, I know it may be hard to hear me from inside this mask. Am I missing anything?” Said with a smile, these kinds of questions WILL be appreciated.
  • Use body language to connect. Eye contact, people! Not staring, but making eye contact when speaking. Nod your head to indicate you’re listening. Don’t cross your arms, and relax your shoulders. If you are social distancing, you can still be social with your body language.

Consider incorporating these tips into any training or communication you have around requiring employees to wear face coverings. Make sure your managers help employees practice and are out on the sales floor, recognizing employees for a job well done. People tend to do what they get recognized for. And make sure people are recognized as often as possible. That way, when someone misses an opportunity to engage with a customer, they’ll be more receptive to a little corrective coaching.”

Liz Cichowski, a senior instructional designer, retail industry expert, at Learning Means Business Inc., offers up tips for helping retail associates engage with customers in the current era of face mask protection. She also shares a real life example of how attention to engagement can be the difference in a customer returning to the store. is a web portal devoted to helping retailers differentiate on experience, rather than on price. It is founded on the understanding that retail today is fundamentally different than any other time in its history, and staying competitive requires a new, holistic understanding of customers and how they want to shop.

SOURCE: Retail Customer Experience w/permission

Looking for a new manager or clerk?

by Cindy Jones, Editor and Publisher 💮

Hiring the best team can mean the difference between your shop’s success or failure. Developing the skills to recognize, hire and retain good staff is essential. Whether you’re a seasoned recruiter or just starting to hon your HR skills, you’ll benefit from these hiring insights. 

Appearance is important because your employees interface with customers, but keep an open mind until you have a chance to see what candidates reveal during the interview.

Hire for attitude. Train for skills.

You’ll have problems with someone you hire who has a poor attitude, no matter how much experience and skills he or she has. If you hire someone with a great attitude, who’s willing to learn, and is energetic and enthusiastic (none of which is tied to age, by the way), you can teach that individual what he or she needs to know to be successful in your business.

Develop a list of questions in advance that will help you during the interview to determine a candidate’s attitude. Use behavior based, non-hypothetical questions that are written in the past tense, such as “Can you give me an example of a time in your last job when you were criticized by your supervisor. What happened?” The past is a reliable predictor of the future – the more recent the past, the more reliable the information is. You also get a more realistic response because you’re asking the candidate to give a real example. Other questions are:

“How do you keep yourself emotionally ‘up,’ even when you get discouraged?” (This speaks to attitude)
“Tell me about the last time you lost your cool with a customer.” (This helps you avoid those who are “loose cannons”)
“On a scale of 1 to 10, on average where’s your energy level?
“Give me three examples of what you are working on to improve about yourself.”

Don’t talk too much during an interview. Don’t spend the first 30 minutes telling the candidate all about the business before they start asking interview questions. That’s a mistake because you’ve given that candidate everything he or she needs to know to tell you exactly what you want to hear. That’s why some candidates appear to shine in an interview, but tarnish quickly after coming on board – you didn’t get a true reading of their attitude, behaviors and skills.

Use an agenda to tell the candidate that you’re going to spend a few minutes with him or her, asking questions from a list of prepared questions. Let the individual know that the questions are the same or similar to what you’ve asked other candidates for the position.

There are no “perfect 10” candidates. Determine a candidate’s weaknesses in the interview, which is even more important than their strengths.

Explain that when you’re done asking questions you’ll invite the candidate to ask you questions, too. Don’t tell candidates upfront that you’re going to spend an hour with them and then tour the store. If an interview goes well, a “few minutes” might turn into an hour, and that’s fine. But if you’re thinking “What a dud” five minutes into an interview, this gives you a graceful way to get out of the interview.

Check references. They are very easy to get. Put that responsibility on candidates, by telling them you need a minimum number of work-related references (you should determine that number). When calling for references, ask the same questions you asked the candidate during the interview. You want to find out how that person operated in a business environment. Small business owners will probably tell you anything you want to know about a candidate. Larger companies may have rules about references. If so, put the onus back on the candidate. Tell him or her, “I really want to hire you, but I need more than a verification that you worked at XYZ Company. I need to talk to people who knew you when you worked there.”

Happy hiring!




See our ALL NEW Spring 2020 collection of foot coverings!
Simply Pairables in children’s, women’s and men’s sizes.
More new styles, more new designs to keep your customers coming back!
Did you get our new spring catalog? View Spring 2020 Catalog!


We don’t want you to miss a thing. Check out last month’s articles and features.

  • 7-Eleven opens hospital pop-up store
  • Checklist: No-Contact Shop Operations
  • POLL: What is the annual cost of your POS system?
  • Vendor Request: Please help us get paid
  • Virtual gift shows and online digital marketplaces
  • Operation Open Doors: a roadmap to reopening
  • Hospital employees make up 60-75% of a gift shop’s customer base
  • Direct Ship Programs
  • PART I: Why Write Your Own Purchase Orders?
  • Dallas Market Center reopens to buyers
  • Coronavirus discussion
  • COVID-19 Webinars



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


Q. Is it in bad taste to sell COVID-19 novelty items? Obviously, nothing tacky. But, I’ve seen a few clever t-shirts, mugs, teddy bears with face masks. Our customers – the doctors and nurses on the front line  – see the tragedy of this illness everyday. Maybe not so humorous to them and don’t want to be reminded of it when they walk in our shop. Or, maybe not? – Lea 5/29/20


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?

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


Q. I work for a large hospital system that has a patient/guest service recovery program where our hospital employees can access an item for guests/patients. In an effort to remain compliant with the $15 Federal OIG (Office of Inspector General) limit recommendation for ‘patient gifting’ we would like to stock items that meet that price point and still remain “giftable”. What are other shops buying and stocking that are under this $15 limit while retaining a perception of quality?

With hospital gift shop’s being such a large part of the retail market, you would think that vendors know the federal regulations that we must adhere to and come up with some suggested items in their lines. At the Atlanta market last month, not one rep was familiar with this, (it began in 2017 with the Affordable Care Act), which I found surprising! – Michaela Kanoski, Volunteer & Guest Services Manager, CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy. 380 beds. 3/2/20

(OIG is the governmental agency that regulates and enforces the monetary value of things received by Medicate and state Medicaid patients.)


Q. I need to explain to our gift shop committee why our physical inventory reports should always be shown at the retail price rather than “at cost.” Can you give me a short and simple answer. Thanks much!! – Darielle H. 3/14/20


Advantages of the Retail Method of Inventory Valuation
The money your customer pays at point of purchase is the retail price. The retail sales figures are the retail value of the inventory. The retail price has the profit built into it and profit occurs when an item is sold (at retail)

    1. Maintaining inventory figures ‘at retail’ forces the you, the retailer, to ‘think retail’.
    2. Financial statements ‘at retail’ are essential to good financial planning. Frequent calculations at both cost and retail information allows the retailer to adjust quickly to changing conditions
    3. Physical inventories taken at retail prices eliminate the costly, time-consuming job of decoding cost prices. Recording physical inventory at retail prices greatly simplifies the process and encourages a more frequent physical count of inventory.
    4. The retail method facilitates planning and control of a department or category. Sales, purchases, inventories, and price-change information are recorded by department or category and can be used to evaluate each department’’s performance.
    5. By providing a ‘book’ or Point of Sale figure for what your inventory should be on hand, the retail method allows the retailer to determine shortages each time a physical inventory is taken.

The ‘retail method’ requires continuous recording of all transactions which change the unit status of the inventory. A running total must be kept by continuously recording all merchandise data. A Point of Sale system will automatically accomplish that for you!  3/15/20


Q. Because we have many of the same customers everyday, how often should we change our displays? How often do you rotate merchandise to other locations?


To keep displays from growing stale, change them every 2-3 weeks. Strategic and successful displays connect with your customer in micro moments. Go above and beyond for your customers, anticipate their needs, infuse your merchandise story and empower your staff to go the extra mile.

Good displays should sell product! Signage will help sell product.

Display seasonal merchandise and smaller high margin items at the front of your store.
Prices should be displayed in a small size.
Make sure you have back-stock of items displayed. 4/15/20


Q. Have you shopped your own shop recently? The other night I was on my way out, purse in hand, when a friend walked into the store to browse.  I walked back in and “shopped” with her through her eyes. If you are like me, all I can see when surveying the floor is what needs to be done, what is missing, what needs dusting, etc. But shopping as the customer was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed admiring and looking at things as much as she did and it was really fun!  It was a lesson to me  – after a harried day behind the scenes, I actually left feeling very good. I realized the pleasant experience that our shop offers to hospital guests and employees. I am going to walk out and come back in wearing a consumer hat more often!  – A shop manager. 228 beds. 3/10/20


Q. I assist the director of volunteer services in managing three hospital gift shops. Our largest shop at our biggest campus does quite well. We have a shop at a sister hospital that we buy for and are waiting to see how the first year went. We also have a small shop at our long-term care and rehab facility. We struggle with staffing (all volunteer) as it’s a smaller shop and is on the opposite side of town from where many of the volunteers live. Most of the customers at that location also like to “wait things out” when it comes to buying product. They will not buy it until it is deeply discounted and then complain when the merchandise isn’t changed often. We are at a loss as to what to do with this particular shop. Does anyone have any suggestions? – Shea Parazine, Volunteer Services Specialist, The Shops at Unity Health, White County Medical Center, Searcy, AR. 193 beds. 3/11/20

Sounds like hospital employees have been trained to wait for markdowns so they can get it cheaper. I suggest you don’t reduce markdowns so soon, and see who out-waits who! Of course, the danger of waiting too long is that the shop may get stuck with too much aging merchandise. That is the “just in case”  philosophy.

As retailers, we never want to disappoint the customer. We can’t bear to hear a customer say they couldn’t find what they were looking for in our shop. On the other hand, we can’t carry everything in very limited floor space. Unfortunately, some shops carry huge inventories just in case that one customer comes in. That’s called ‘just in case’ thinking and buying and it simply doesn’t work! What happens if that one customer never comes in? You now have merchandise that feels old and stale….and may never sell. 3/15/20

We arranged our back room/office, for a small dressing room area. We hung a shower curtain on a tension pole rod, and they can also shut the door. It works great. – Sandy Eiffert. 2/15/20

We offer my office to our customers ~ they close and lock the door, and are happy to make sure it fits first! We also offer our nearest rest room…..this of course takes a lot of trust in your customers~~but~~ we’ve never had an item walk out yet! And the customers are very happy that we do trust them enough to offer this to them. Sometimes this trust makes the sale!! – Anonymous. 1/20/20

We have our restrooms across the hall, I offer for them to go try it far no issues. I get worries but as I said not issues with that yet. Those who don’t we have an exchange policy that I let them know and ask that they keep tags and receipt. – Leslie Hollingsworth. 1/20/20

Regarding the question concerning no dressing room: we have a full length mirror on both sides of our back room area door. For sweaters, ponchos, etc. the one on the gift shop side works just fine. If someone needs to try on a top, we allow them to step into the back room to try it on and just wait outside. We have had no problems with this process. Occasionally someone will want to try on in a more private place (aka: bathroom). In these instances they will generally leave with us their car keys, or coat, etc. so we are comfortable with this. We can also see the bathroom entrance from our shop, so that helps us keep an eye out. For hospital staff, this is never a worry! – Nancy Johnsen. 1/16/20

We have a back room for receiving and office. We checked into a actual fitting room when we remodeled and it has to be ADA compliant. I did not feel it was a good trade off to give up the square footage in the shop for the fitting room, so had had a hospital curtain added to the back room. It works just fine when needed. There is a large mirror on one wall also. – Mary Robinson. 1/16/20


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© Cindy Jones Associates, 2020. COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. Redistribution, copying, reselling, re-renting, or republishing is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Cindy’s Newsletter may not to be forwarded, redistributed, reproduced, reprinted, or posted online without prior permission from Cindy Jones Associates. Subscribers may share one issue with a fellow manager. Thereafter, the manager may subscribe here to receive future issues.

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