Gift Shop Managers
Cindy’s Newsletter provides its readership of over 3,000 gift shop professionals “actionable content” to help optimize their shop operation, grow revenue, and connect with one another. LEAVE A COMMENT: Click the colored comment tags throughout the newsletter or email Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org
NOVEMBER 15, 2020
From Cindy Jones, Editor 💮
I hope all of you shop managers remember just how very important you are to your hospital! You know more people by name than most of the hospital personnel. You are there morning, noon and night seven days a week, guiding, assisting and helping people.
You see people from every department every single day of the year. Your shop is the ‘common ground’ where hospital employees run into one another and feel connected. You have a lot of influence just because you probably answer more questions than most other areas of your hospital. And, when it comes to compassion, you are key to making patients and families feel they have had a good experience.
Like the medical staff, you carry compassion and a desire to make a difference. You may not have medical training, but you’re right there being as professional as those who do. Never feel that you are not as ‘important’ as any other employee in the hospital.
You have the great opportunity to have a positive influence on countless people, every single day. I find that amazing!
Stay safe. Be kind. Smile often.
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Survey Results: Do you have an online store?
We ask “Does your shop have an ecommerce store on your organization’s website, a separate website, or any other platform?” As online sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic, it comes as no surprise that the majority (60%) of consumers say they plan to purchase holiday items online this year. Nearly all (91%) online shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping, while another 44% plan to buy online, pick up in store, and 16% plan to use same-day delivery. (NRF, October 2020)
Do you have an online store?
Q. What vendors offer baby apparel that sells well?
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
We do really well with Mud Pie baby. – Mary Hays, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, Round Rock, TX. 167 beds. 10/19/20
BabyVision has a great line of inexpensive clothing including preemie items, newborn gift sets, infant headbands, socks, etc. Kellis Gifts can be a nice resource if you need only a handful items. – Lynne T. 10/16/20
I’ve sold thousands of fun leggings from Doodle Pants, and Pea pod hats by Margareta Horn Design, and drop ship monogram towels/blankets from Monograms of Distinction, musical toys from Cuddle Barn, soft toys from Unipak Designs – Elaine Boaman. 10/16/20
Mudpie is our best brand for baby clothing sales. We also order from a small company we found in cash and carry at the Atlanta Market called Cozy Cottage Boutique. – Shea Parazine 10/16/20
Can paid staff also volunteer
Q. I understand the rule that a volunteer can’t be paid for the same job that they are volunteering for. You can have separate paid staff and volunteers work together though. It’s done in many hospital gift shops. But, where you can run into a problem is if a paid staff member is asked to volunteer their time doing the same duties that they are normally paid for. Is that correct? – A gift shop manager 10/12/20
FROM CINDY: OSHA does not regulate the use of volunteers, however, FLSA laws do. FLSA regulations state that a paid employee cannot volunteer (or be required to volunteer) for the same organization to do the same job in which he/she is paid to do. This means that your paid employee cashier who works three days a week cannot be expected to work a fourth day without compensation and be called a “volunteer” on that day. People who volunteer their services for charitable or civic causes without expectation of compensation can do the same job as a paid employee and they can work together in the workspace as paid employees. This rule applies for non-profit organizations. For-profit organizations cannot use volunteers. For-profit organizations can develop internships that are time-delineated and have specific learning outcomes and sometimes a modest monetary compensation associated with them (such as, work-study students). Shop managers can meet with the hospital volunteer resources manager to help clarify the engagement of volunteers from their legal department.
Replace volunteers with employed staff
Q. We have a decreasing auxiliary membership, as well as an aging one. Besides COVID, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep our hospital gift shop hours attended by volunteers. We are toying with the idea of hiring a paid employee to work the shifts that aren’t covered by an auxiliary member and to do tasks that our elderly volunteers cannot. – Teri Nixon, Manager, Los Alamos Medical Center, Los Alamos, NM. 50 beds 10/14/20
FROM CINDY: That is a tough decision. I hope we hear from volunteer managers who have the same issue. The good news: paid management offers a continuity of service to customers by keeping the shop open during posted shop hours. The not so good news: salaries cut into your shop’s profit.
What should my net profit margin be?
Q. I recall that in one of your Newsletters you gave a “net profit benchmark” figure for hospital gift shops. It was like a 30% or 35% profit margin. Is that still accurate? Thanks! – Shop Manager, Volunteer Manager, Tulsa, OK. 11/3/20
FROM CINDY: Maintaining a good profit margin is the key to success. A shop may have very high sales, but if their net profit is low, something is eating up the profits along the way. It could be: high salary expenses, high cost of goods, or high operating costs and markdowns. A good manager must keep these factors in control.
An all-volunteer operated shop should achieve at least a 25% of gross sales net profit margin.
The net profit margin percent should be higher in an all-volunteer operated shop than in a shop with a paid manager due to salary expenses. A shop with a paid manager should realize at least a 20% of the gross sales net profit margin.
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Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
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Q. Do you have a job description for a Gift Shop Manager?
I am looking for a sample job description for a Gift Shop Manager. Can you recommend one? – Peggy H. 11/4/2020
FROM CINDY: Our sample Gift Shop Manager job description is a free download here.
Diffuse the combustible customer
by Cindy Jones, Editor 💮
The holiday season can turn from joyful to stressful in a hurry. And sometimes the stress can create some pretty cranky customers. Luckily, there are a few simple things salespeople can keep in mind to help them navigate the harried holidays and diffuse potentially combustible customer situations.
Forget you’re a salesperson and be a partner
Customers who are stressed want to know you have their best interest in mind first, and not your shop’s bottom line. By proving that you’re a partner, you can work with your customer to find the solution that’s best for them.
Keep your ears open
It’s not uncommon to encounter a customer who truly just wants to vent. Maybe they had a bad experience or they couldn’t find what they were looking for right away. No matter their problem, you need to listen to what they’re saying. The worst thing you can do in a stressful situation like this is to dismiss their complaints. Be open to what they have to say and take everything with a grain of salt.
Remove your personal feelings
It’s hard to not take complaints personally, but by eliminating your feelings from the equation, you can relieve a situation of a lot of stress. Even if a customer is complaining about something that directly relates to your performance, it still doesn’t mean they’re complaining about you as a person. Take a deep breath and represent the shop like you know you can. This also makes it a whole lot easier to apologize—even when you don’t think you should. A simple ‘sorry’ can go a long way.
What I learned as a Gift Shop Manager
by Cindy Jones, Editor 💮
In today’s gift shop, you have to be open to alternative kinds of thinking if you are ever to be anything but mediocre. This means approaching problems from a different perspective. It means thinking differently about yourself. All too many shop managers still don’t realize their true worth. Consequently, it’s no surprise when others don’t realize it either.
Unfortunately, some hospital administrators do not put a high value on their gift shop manager. They sometimes forget that a good manager (along with volunteers) brings in large sums of revenue for patient care and equipment.
It is important for shop managers to create a strong profile in the hospital community. This can be done by asking your supervisor to recommend you to serve on various hospital task forces, committees or forums that discuss hospital issues and protocols. As a retail manager, you can bring to the table expertise from a different perspective than most other hospital employees.
Many hospitals and medical centers offer skill development opportunities, such as, workshops in computer programs, leadership development, financial operations, conflict management, supervision skills, etc. Take the initiative and ask your supervisor if you can improve your skills by attending training programs such as these.
I have found that hospital gift shop managers are very good at buying and display, but weak at financial management. If that is you, resolve to take a community college course in financial management.
How are you at your annual performance reviews? Do you keep records on your accomplishments? You have to “put it out there!” Here’s one way to do that: Keep a file labeled “I’m Good” and stock it with notes detailing all the positive contributions you make. Two weeks before your annual performance evaluation, give it to your supervisor and say, “Thought you’d like some info for my evaluation.” Supervisors tend to remember more negative than positive things.
These days you have to have the strength to work outside of comfort zones and to develop innovative ways of doing things to continue successfully. Be confident. Begin by identifying your beliefs – “I am competent”, “I am good at (fill in the blank).” With beliefs like these, you can take on challenging projects with confidence and remain focused. These positive feelings/beliefs should be transferred to day-to-day work situations. But if you believe that you may not be able to do a good job or do not have control over the challenge, then you will hesitate, fearing mistakes, criticism and failure.
Bottom line – beliefs govern attitudes, and in turn, attitudes govern behavior. If we stay mentally “centered”, we essentially reorient our perceptions and eliminate the blame game with those in authority. We can give respect when faced with a supervisor’s negativity – which translates, in turn, into receiving respect.
Lastly, get rid of the blame system or those excuses you use for why you haven’t met your goals: too little time, an unreasonable boss, or unproductive co-workers. Don’t let it become a me-them syndrome.
Peak performers share these characteristics:
• They take responsibility for their actions.
• They think in terms of solutions.
• They are self-motivated.
• They ask for help.
• They share generously.
• They have a rich personal life.
These characteristics make for an individual who seems in command of every situation. We are perceived by others by how much control we seem to have over our lives.
‘Open the Joy’ products for hospitalized children
We’ve have had great success with Open the Joy, selling out in around 30 days. They make gifts for hospitalized kids like activity boxes, kits with items to decorate a hospital room, conversation starters and much more. So adorable and well received. Open the Joy best sellers are The Feel Better Kits, Boredom Busters, Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters, Room Decoration Kits. They also return some of the profits to their Spread the Joy Foundation. – Debbie Kerr, Director of Gift Shop Operations, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO. 325 beds 10/16/20
Q. Holiday gourmet food line?
We are considering ordering some holiday gourmet dips, soups, and drink mix products to sell. Any recommendations? 8/23/20
Captain Rodney’s Boucan Glaze. Honestly, anything from that line sells well. We also order hot chocolate from Ticket Chocolate and set up and hot chocolate gift bar every holiday. The pick out their chocolate flavor, a mug and any add-ins and we make a small gift basket out of it. Piper and Leaf Tea Co out of Alabama has some great teas and will also work with you to create a custom blend for your shop. The General’s Hot Sauce has been a favorite for the guys here. – Shea Parazine, Unity Health, Searcy, AR. 400 bed. 10/16/20
We have purchased cocoa, ciders, etc from McSteven’s. Cocoa pouches are .71-.80 each. We also purchased from Great Scot which has jellies and preserves. – Ginger Taylor, Cox Health Medical, Springfield, MO. 502 beds. 10/8/20
Virtual Tradeshows and Online Showrooms
NY NOW Digital Market
October 3 – December 31, 2020
NY NOW Digital Market will open on October 3, 2020, with 5 Live Show Days and will unite NY NOW’s unparalleled community of retailers, brands, and makers for live events, experiences, connection, reactivation, and holiday buying. This cutting-edge digital solution was developed to enable brands and retailers to pivot from the in-person event to a digital environment while ensuring a premium, interactive user experience. Retailers can expect enhanced search capabilities across product categories, communities, and trends; best-in-class digital functionality including video calls and appointment setting; and a machine learning layer that curates personalized brand recommendations specific to their buying needs.
One of a Kind Holiday Show
November 12 – December 6, 2020
One of a Kind Holiday Show is going virtual this year. One of a Kind’s Virtual Holiday Market is available on its website 24/7 from Nov. 12 through Dec 6. Attendees will have access to more than 300 artists, learn about the artists, have access to online programming and special promotions, and will have the opportunity to view a selection of products and link directly to artisan’s websites to shop the merchandise.
IMC Virtual Market Center
Permanent tool featuring ShopZio, an online B2B marketplace that enables buyers and sellers to connect during this time of unprecedented business disruption. Catalog Connexion offers over 550 catalogs from High Point resources to search, browse, contact vendors and now select brands are shoppable. Product Search and Discovery provides access thousands of furniture and home décor products through our exclusive line-up of digital search and discovery tool.
MELROSE 360˙ Showroom
Melrose International announces the premier of their virtual showrooms. They are launching a new way to shop this market season through MELROSE 360˙ Showrooms. Customers will be able to shop by collections, walk the entire showroom, make wish lists, and even place an order. The Home & Holiday showroom is available now and the 2021 Home & Garden showroom will be available in mid-August. The MELROSE 360˙ Holiday Showroom has an all new shopping experience designed for you. This showroom will feature 12 holiday collections from our 2020 line, for those who weren’t able to shop earlier this season! In addition, all the items featured in this showroom are immediately shipped from our warehouse.
💮 CALENDAR 💮
STATE AUXILIARY CONFERENCES
Mar 8-10, 2021 Georgia Society of Volunteer and Retail Professionals (GSVRP) VIRTUAL
Mar 21-23, 2021 Society for Healthcare Volunteer Leaders (SHVL) Annual Convention & Vendor Market Nashville, TN
May 12-15, 2021 Michigan Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals (MHVRP) Spring Conference Shelbyville, MI
June 10-11, 2021 Wisconsin Assoc of Directors of Volunteer Services (WADVS) Annual Conference & Vendor Market Pewaukee, WI
Sometimes, even gift shops hire dishonest people
The best defense against employee theft is to hire honest employees. No one sets out to hire a dishonest employee but some hospital gift shop managers fall into the trap of complete trust. A little skepticism can be a good thing and can be the difference between profit and closing the doors of the business. Every time you hire, do a face-to-face interview and check every reference listed. Many perspective employees will list impressive references that they believe will never be checked. Call former employers. Most will only confirm dates worked and position but ask if the employee is eligible for re-hire. Listen to the tone of their voice. In some states you can require a credit check and criminal background check. There is a cost, but generally this cost is less than what a dishonest employee can steal over time. Here’s a fact from Statistics Brain: The average time office fraud lasts before detection is two years! The average amount stolen a cross the US is $175,000 in each instance.
If you do accidentally hire a dishonest person (remember 75% have stolen from an employer once, 34% have stolen twice), your best defense is good internal controls. Separation of duties is a must. It is important to constantly rotate duties giving each employee an opportunity to learn many tasks. This could also be beneficial when the owner takes a much-needed vacation. Managers have a responsibility to be diligent to ask bookkeepers for backup for checks and the bookkeeper should never be the person to receive and open the bank statement. Keep in mind that most employee theft is used for living a higher lifestyle, like a nicer vacation or driving a better car. If part-time employees can afford African safari vacations, one wonders where their income comes from.
If you find yourself intimidated by numbers, keep in mind that you are the shop manager. Checking someone else’s work is the manager’s job and responsibility. Occasionally come in early to open the store or come back in to close up. Count the cash for yourself and research any overages or shorts. If, when reviewing checks written for the month you fail to recognize a vendor, ask for the back-up.
One of the most common plots for employee theft now utilizes the return of merchandise. In this case, imaginary merchandise is returned with no cash refund issued. Instead, the excess cash is processed to the employee’s (cashier’s) credit card. The cash drawer will balance with the cash register tape so nothing is detected. Require refunds to have a second person to sign off and beware of shrink.
At what point do people decide that taking things that do not belong to them is acceptable. Many will attempt in vain to justify inappropriate conduct with the Robin Hood thought process of taking from the ‘haves’ by the ‘have nots’ as being the way life is. How would you answer the question, “Are you honest?”
National Retail Federation says average shrink for a small retail store should be less than 1.38%, preferably around 0.5% to 0.8% of total sales for specialty retailers. Sadly, hospital gift shops have a higher than average shrink amount.
snoozies!® Face Coverings
snoozies!® Face Coverings
snoozies!® three-layer cloth washable face coverings, are selling at a rapid clip in hospital stores around the country!
– Includes four filters
– Adult and children sizes/patterns
– Washable and reusable
– Comes with replacement filters
– Adjustable elastic ear-loop bands
– Flexible metal bridge for snug fit
– Over 20 print and solid designs
View our Face Covering Catalog or at snoozies.com!
December Action Plan 🎄
⏳ Buy Soon
- Review Valentine orders to ensure timely deliveries.
✂ Mark Down
- December 19: Mark down slow-moving items.
- Take selective markdowns on slow moving items.
- Put calendars and date books in a prime selling space for fast sales. There are only five to six weeks left to sell them. 📆
- Ensure that the shop’s physical inventory process is organized and in place for the beginning of the fiscal year.
- If all your preparatory work was done in advance, nothing should prevent you from being on the floor helping customers and selling merchandise.
- Stock and restock!
- Schedule additional staffing to work from 10am-2pm to handle the increased business during the last busy weeks before Christmas.
- Ensure that shop hours are consistently maintained during these busy times.
- KWANZA is December 26 – January 1. 🎯
- Limit vacation days by mid-December — everyone is needed from now until Christmas.
- Say a special thank you to all workers in your gift shop. Serve Honey Buns under a sign reading “Thanks for working your buns off!”
- Give lots of ‘pats on the back’, words of thanks and showings of gratitude to all the workers in the shop (volunteer and paid).
40% of annual sales are in November and December. 35% of candle sales are in December.
- Train cashiers to suggest GIFT CERTIFICATES to hospital employees. Promote them as the perfect co-worker gift. 🚀
- Gift Certificates generate immediate cash. They represent an interest-free loan, don’t require floor space, and customers often purchase more than the face amount of the certificate.
- For the customer, they are a risk-free gift and eliminate the decision-making process.
- Gift certificates should include who authorized the gift certificate, whom it is from and whom it’s for. Include name, address, expiration date, and additional conditions, such as being non-redeemable for cash. Gift certificates are like money, so good record keeping is essential.
- Welcome to the Golden Quarter
- SURVEY: Do you have an online store?
- SURVEY RESULTS: Have you recently attended or plan to attend a gift market?
- Q. What vendors offer baby apparel that sells well?
- Create videos of your merchandise
- Q. Holiday gourmet food line?
- Start planning holiday events now!
- Coronado Gift Shop adapts and innovates around COVID-19
- Podcast: Stale Inventory, Fear of Selling, Fear of Buying
- How we lead: acknowledging and encouraging
- Comparing your shop’s sales with others
- Virtual Tradeshows and Online Showrooms
- Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences
VOLUNTEERS, GIFT SHOPS, FAIR LABOR LAW
I have a question regarding volunteers, gift shops and fair labor laws. The paragraph below is taken from an overview from FLSA website. In particular, I am interested in the part stating volunteers in commercial activity are not allowed in non-profit organizations. Can you tell me exactly what that means? – Beth Meadows, Advisor, Philanthropy & Volunteer Services, Marion General Hospital, Marion, IN. 9/25/20
The FLSA recognizes the generosity and public benefits of volunteering and allows individuals to freely volunteer in many circumstances for charitable and public purposes. Individuals may volunteer time to religious, charitable, civic, humanitarian, or similar non-profit organizations as a public service and not be covered by the FLSA. Individuals generally may not, however, volunteer in commercial activities run by a non-profit organization such as a gift shop. A volunteer generally will not be considered an employee for FLSA purposes if the individual volunteers freely for public service, religious or humanitarian objectives, and without contemplation or receipt of compensation. Typically, such volunteers serve on a part-time basis and do not displace regular employed workers or perform work that would otherwise be performed by regular employees. In addition, paid employees of a non-profit organization cannot volunteer to provide the same type of services to their non-profit organization that they are employed to provide.
Thank you for your question and your concern about FLSA’s statement regarding volunteers.
Hospital gift shops are considered ‘for profit’ since they sell products for a profit even though they exist inside a non-profit or for-profit hospital. The status of the hospital is not the issue. Shop profits are typically given back to the hospital or to an entity within the hospital for medical equipment or patient benefit. A hospital gift shop missions statement will typically reflect this. Note the descriptors “retail business” and “service center”. Keep in mind that most hospital gift shops exist primarily to serve hospital employees working on site.
Gift Shop Mission Statement [Sample]
The ________ Hospital Gift Shop’s mission is to ensure satisfaction and value for our customers through fair-market pricing, service excellence, and quality merchandise. By meeting our customers’ needs, we will prosper as a retail business and meet the expectations of our employees and volunteers. As a service center, all profits from the gift shop are used to support patient care, programs, and medical equipment at ________ Hospital.
I hope this answers your question!
HOW IS THE SHUTDOWN AFFECTING YOUR GIFT SHOP?
We finally opened this week for the first time in 6 months. Our hours are 3 times a week for four hours a day. Needless to say the staff is so excited. Concerns are how long we will stay open at this point. Covid numbers are skyrocketing. Not sure I will carry fall or Christmas items at this point. – Elizabeth Stringham, Volunteer Manager for Gift Shop, ThedaCare Regional Medical Center, Appleton, WI 10/6/20
Elizabeth, where are you located? Bravo for that glimmer of hope for your staff to be open just a short period of time. It is important for the hospital to see your “value” to the hospital as people start to come in and pick up necessities. As you know the hospital staff look to you for something different to look at other than masks and soda and candy. There are cute necklaces out there that clip on to masks so that you can avoid losing your mask and it looks like jewelry hanging around your neck. Unusual and fun items even in really small quantities lets people know that you are still an important part of the hospital and you are open! Just one small table display at the entrance that makes your “guests” smile…is worth the minor investment. Everyone is watching the seasons go so that we can move on into a new year!! – Anne Obarski, Merchandise Concepts, Mount Pleasant, MI. 10/9/20
We reopened the week that all retail establishments were permitted to open. It’s been going pretty well and the employees are so thankful that they can come in and shop. During the shutdown we were only selling via emails and phone calls. Patients are only permitted one visitor per day so we definitely are loosing there but our screeners will permit the public to come into the hospital to shop at our store so that’s a definite plus. Still only open limited hours. Mon–Thu 9-4 and Fri 9-2. No weekends. Snoozies masks have been our BIGGEST seller! Yes, they are more expensive but, after the employees tried them, they realized how comfortable they were. I sell them for $14.99 and get a second 25% off. We are a small community hospital too so we’re not selling to the rich and famous A much less expensive alternative is Wine Onion I’ve always bought jewelry from them but now you can get masks for less than $3 each and they’re selling really well at $6.99. And always, DM Merchandising has excellent prices! Their Comfort Care masks are $2.90 cost and sell for $6.99. I’ve reordered so many times. -Jenny Turner, UH Portage Medical Center, Ravenna, OH 10/7/20
Hi Jenny! I’m a grad of KSU and was tickled to see your hospital turn up here. I am happy you are offering a few different price points for your masks. What is even more interesting are your comments about Snoozies! It is important to take away from your comments that even though you may think the price point is high, the “value” your customer receives out weighs the retail price. I am sure you have a group of cheerleaders at your hospital who tell everyone that comfort is worth it. I know we all can agree when it comes to masks, comfort and quality say it all. – Anne Obarski, Merchandise Concepts, Mount Pleasant, MI. 10/9/20
25% of the HGS in California are open for business in several modes of operation.Almost all of the HGS based on my research are also open with their county health and hospital restrictions. – Lilly Stamets 10/12/20
We are open to limited hours. Monday thru Friday, 10am to 4pm, closed Saturday and Sunday. The week of our employee holiday event, November 16th, we will be re open on Saturday’s from 10am to 2pm for our weekend employees and guests. This will continue through the holidays and hopefully, into 2021. Thank you. -Kim DeBord, Riverside Medical, Kankakee, IL, 336 beds 10/6/20
We have opened up this week with limited hours. We do not plan to place any orders for the balance of 2020. – Barbara Reynolds, Roseville, CA 10/6/20
We are still closed… -Pinecone Gift Shop 10/2/20
Our hospital had not been allowing visitors other than special circumstances since March. We had been allowed to reopen the gift shops for limited hours a day. This week they are changing the visitor policy to allow a visitor per patient, but visitors and patients have to remain in their rooms when possible and they are not allowed to enter the gift shops or dine in the café. We are concerned about policing this, as our doors have been open and we have two rooms so the door isn’t always in sight. We are going back closed doors/no entry and text orders. We will continue using our private employee group to sell to employees. I’m looking at ecommerce sites for the possibility of this continuing deep into fourth quarter. – Shea Parazine 7/7/20