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Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | October 9, 2019 💮




 OCTOBER 9, 2019 

Cindy’s Newsletter provides managers an opportunity to exchange success stories and share thoughts on industry hot topics. We report on breaking news, product trends, survey studies, business tips and other articles that give valuable insight into the market dynamics that affect hospital gift shops. There are over 3,000 hospital gift shop managers presently benefiting from the information in Cindy’s Newsletter. 


Submit a tip, hot seller, question, or answer to Include the # of beds in your posts. While we try to keep the content at a reasonably advanced level, we occasionally post items for folks newer to hospital gift shops.


Oct 23 – 26, 2019
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Fall). Dallas, TX
Jan 8-14, 2020
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market (Winter). Dallas, TX
Jan 15-18, 2020
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market. Dallas, TX
Jan 14-21, 2020
Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market (Winter). Atlanta, GA
Jan 26-30, 2020
Las Vegas Market (Winter). Las Vegas, NV


Send us your upcoming conference and market dates!  


Oct 16     Boss’s Day
Oct 31     Halloween
Nov 11     Veteran’s Day
Nov 28     Thanksgiving
Nov 29     Black Friday
Nov 30     Small Business Saturday
Dec 22-30 Hannukah
Dec 25     Christmas

Social media influencing near-record Halloween spending

National Retail Federation
September 25, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. consumers are looking to social media for Halloween costume and decoration ideas as spending is expected to reach a near-record amount this year. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, shoppers say they will spend an average $86.27, down just slightly from last year’s record $86.79. That works out to $8.8 billion in total spending, down from last year’s $9 billion. This year’s total is expected to be the third-highest in the survey’s 15-year history, after the record $9.1 billion set in 2017. A total of 172 million people plan to celebrate Halloween – 68 percent of those surveyed – down from 175 million last year. “Spending hasn’t changed much over the past few years, but we are seeing a noticeable increase in consumers whose Halloween purchases are inspired by their friends, neighbors and even celebrities on social media,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers expect to have another strong Halloween season and have stocked up on candy, decorations and the season’s most popular costumes.” Read more: Social media influencing near-record Halloween spending

October Action Plan

  • You won’t reach your desired sales numbers if you leave it to chance. Plan a monthly sales goal and set daily targets for sales, and even for specific products. Every volunteer and associate must know daily what is expected of them. Begin planning great holiday promotions NOW!
  • Display Thanksgiving merchandise.
  • Stir up sales with an EARLY BIRD SALE (end of November)

A 25 percent off from 8-9 a.m.

A 20 percent off from 9-10 a.m.

15 percent off from 10-11 a.m. except candy, magazines, flowers & books

  • Help move your merchandise by planning ‘Lunch Hour Sales’ over the holidays! Create excitement! One day a week for three weeks, hold a sale from 11 AM to 2 PM. Mark down the holiday merchandise at progressive amounts each week, but only for 3 hours. Turn up the music and watch them line up at the door. The defined sale time makes it exciting and customers can’t look at something and then think about it. If they want it, they had to buy it right then and there for the discount.
  • Display calendars and date books in October in order to sell through before Christmas. This is prime time to sell calendars.
  • After Halloween, weed out “lemons” and put them on sale. You may make less profit, but there will be no profit if you’re stuck with them. Pack away remaining Halloween for next year.

…. get all the action items for October in the Twelve Month Action Plan 

Start Planning Now for Holiday Events

Do advance planning in early November. Here are some event ideas.

20% OFF Holiday Sale
Present a one-day-only 20% OFF Holiday Sale the first or third Friday in December.  This will entice hospital employees to visit your shop and see all the wonderful holiday merchandise there.

Save More, More & Even More
Spend $25 or more and get a coupon for 10% OFF discountable items on your next purchase
Spend $50 or more and get a coupon for 15% OFF discountable items on your next purchase
Spend $100 or more and get a coupon for 20% OFF discountable items on your next purchase

12 Days of Christmas = Twelve Days of Savings
Offer 20% off merchandise in certain categories, such as: Santa’s, snowmen, jewelry, ornaments, plush or specific vendors. Post signs daily that say what category is discounted and the discount percentage.

Count back 12 business days from December 23 or 24 to determine the first first day of the sale (the weekend days are the same as the preceding Friday). The sale ends on Dec. 23 or 24 with holiday items marked at 40% off until January 1. That is when they are moved to your clearance area to make way for new merchandise.

Or, start the 12 Days of Christmas on December 1, thereby giving you the opportunity to offer 30% discount the week previous to Christmas and 50% the week following Christmas.

Prepare a flyer that lists the merchandise that will be discounted each day. State exclusions upfront, such as, “In-Stock Items Only” and “No Advance Holds.” They either buy it at full price or hope it will still be around on the day it was discounted.

Get more holiday event and sale ideas here in the Twelve Month Action Plan


Gift Shop Manager
Hannibal Regional Hospital, Hannibal, MO
Under the day-to-day supervision of the Director–Guest and Volunteer Services and in conjunction with the Auxiliary Board, the Gift Shop Manager is responsible for the retail operations, volunteer training and oversight of the gift shop. Gift Shop Manager, Hannibal, MO

Gift Shop Manager
Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX
At Houston Methodist, the Manager Gift Shop position is responsible for managing the Gift Shop staff and daily operations, providing oversight to ensure high quality, retail services over all retail locations and offices. This is accomplished by working with the Gift Shop director and Auxiliary Board to execute a strategic and operational plan and generate revenue that supports the Auxiliary vision. Gift Shop Manager, Houston, TX

Supervisor Gift Shop
Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA
Experience with small, independent gift shops. In managing a gift shop or comparable retail operation including sales and asset & cash management. Gift Shop Manager, Seattle, WA

Gift Shop Manager – Volunteer Services
Truman Medical Centers, Kansas City, MO
Must be able to perform or train volunteers and staff in all phases of the daily operations, planning, buying, merchandising, recordkeeping, bookkeeping, and… Gift Shop Manager, Kansas City, MO




What’s the most important reason

to stock and sell Snoozies in your
hospital gift shop?

252-650-7000 ext 206 or 210

Policy: Personal Purchases

Your shop must have a policy in place for ‘personal purchases’ that are made at market and/or through the shop, by staff and volunteer buyers. Merchandise that has been purchased for resale in the shop must be sold in the shop.

It is important to restrict buyers from using the shop’s ‘wholesale account’ to purchase items for themselves, whether those items are sold in the shop or not. Recently, a few shop managers have been fired (immediate dismissal) for doing just this. It is based on the misuse of the state resale tax number and hospital policies. Here are a few examples: 

“This hospital does not allow purchases of personal items, even if employees reimburse for the items.”

“Prohibition on use of Purchasing or Payment Procedures for Personal Purposes.”

“The personal use of the purchasing or payment process is prohibited by law and can result in discipline, up to and including dismissal from employment.”

“This hospital is exempt from taxation by the federal, state and local governments. The sales tax exemption can be used only for legitimate hospital activities. Personal items may not be purchased through the hospital even if the hospital is reimbursed by the employee. All purchases must be for the use and benefit of the hospital. NO PERSONAL PURCHASES ARE ALLOWED.”

Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website

by Susan Kight
September 19, 2019

Healthcare providers that have a retail gift store on their medical campus most likely manage with limited access to dedicated resources and frequently leverage volunteers to serve in their gift shops, assist customers with merchandise questions and support, and complete sales transactions. The thought of expanding operations to offer both a retail store and an online hospital gift shop website can be a daunting step, especially with limited dedicated resource and dependence on volunteer staff to manage day to day operations. Read more –  Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website…

Jewelry Trends

From GiftBEAT in Brief
October 1, 2019

Month-over-month jewelry sales were up for 49 percent of respondents. As one Georgia retailer says, “Us girls just gotta’ have it!” A Texas retailer was blown away with the sales of the established but still trendy line of pull bracelets from Pura Vida, reporting that: “We sold $1500 worth last month.” In Tennessee, a store owner reports that her sales are driven by well-known brands such as Ronaldo and MarkSteel and says new earrings from Ronaldo have been a great addition to the company’s popular bracelets. For some, including an Idaho and a Rhode Island retailer, little known brands such as BakedBeads are the way to go, while several store owners mentioned that lava bracelets and necklaces from BOPS were among their top sellers.

GiftBeat! |

CBD – or Not CBD?

By Carol “Orange” Schroeder
June 24, 2019

Should your shop carry products with CBD oil? This potentially helpful natural remedy is not psychoactive, so there is probably no harm in its inclusion in products such as chocolate, lip balm and sleep masks. However, the fact that its use is so unregulated means that caution needs to be taken when it comes to making health claims such as “reduces pain” or “calms anxiety.”

If you are going to carry oils, salves and tinctures, however, you will want to make sure that you know something about the company you are buying from. CBD products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which means that the ingredients could vary widely in the quality and amount of active ingredients. Pharmacist Peg Breuer also points out that “there can be drug and food interactions when using CBD products. Consumers should check with sellers to assure that the product manufacturers have testing results available and meets scientific standards.”

A number of CBD businesses have opened in our community recently, and Progressive Grocer reports that CBD oil is coming to major grocery stores. They also point out that “Nationwide drug store chains CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens all recently revealed that they would begin selling various hemp-derived CBD health products, including creams, patches and sprays, at a collective total of more than 2,500 stores.” So, in our area, customers wanting CBD oil products will have plenty of options without our shop hopping on the magic bus, too.

But that is not to say that promoting the fact that you have CDB oil won’t help draw customers to your store or give the products with CBD oil an edge over those that don’t include it. Only you and your staff can decide for sure whether expanding your inventory to take advantage of this trend will be worthwhile. Read more CBD – or Not CBD?

Carol L. Schroeder is co-owner of Orange Tree Imports in Madison, Wisconsin, and the author of “Specialty Shop Retailing: How You Can Succeed in Today’s Market”.



Q. I would like to know if any hospital gift shops here in Arizona or other states are currently selling CBD products? If so, what was your process to obtain approval from administration? Were there any barriers that you faced or guidelines that needed to be followed? If you were able to carry CBD products what company do you buy from and what products are you successful with? I appreciate any feedback or advice you may have. Jenny Inglett, Retail Coordinator, Gift Shop, Corner Stork Café & Daily Grind, Yuma Regional Medical Center, Yuma, AZ. 8/8/19.   :   It seems that CBD Oil is all the rage right now. I am wondering if anybody has stocked it in their Gift Shop? If so, how are the sales? — Jodi Babineau, Lakeview Medical Center, Sunshine Gift Shoppe Rice Lake, WI. 40 beds. 8/17/19

It is imperative that if a shop is selling this product that there is a pharmacist on staff that can discuss benefits, detriments, drug interactions, dosage, uses, etc. The purity of the product is of utmost importance-where is it grown, harvested and manufactured? Are pesticides used? What are the additives? Is the product grown, harvested and manufactures on the same site? Or is the product transported-and under what conditions? I believe at this time we should leave the CBD products to our pharmacists and medical personnel to sell.

We have a natural medicine pharmacist on staff that I have had the pleasure of working with as she introduced CBD into one of our pharmacies. She has done an extraordinary job researching the best quality product. Our pharmacists are trained to ask the right questions regarding using these products and contraindications

I find it worrisome that there is so much product flooding the market. Love reading your newsletter!

— Noel Donohue, Manager, Retail Operations, VIVO Health, Northwell Health. 10/19

Our Senior Leaders would not allow us to sell CBD oil in our gift shop. Our Employee Health Nurse Practitioner agreed with their decision. We sent out a request on the SHVL list serve website and there was an overwhelming response from other hospitals that they were not allowed to sell it in their gift shops also for many of the reasons that Connie Slingluff listed in her response.

— Cindy Fox, CAVS, Director of Volunteer Services, Maury Regional Medical Center, Columbia, TN. 10/17/19

Interestingly enough I am able to sell a full line of herbal tinctures, tea’s, and salves in our mini apothecary section and our hospital is pretty progressive in thought when it comes to a holistic approach to healing. We offer Aromatherapy, Reiki, meditation, yoga and even guided visualization to our patients. However when I approached admin about the potential for selling CBD’s in our shop it was denied. There are whole lot of folks that still need to be educated about how CBD’s work and those same folks still group this in with illegal substance. I find that sometimes what’s “on trend” at the trade show’s may not be “on trend” in my area and I need to keep this in mind when I purchase. For example; unicorns, sloths, llamas, and narwhals just do not work for me!

— Colleen DeSimone, Gift Shop Coordinator, Orange Regional Medical Center Gift Shop, Middletown, NY 381 beds. 9/13/19

With approval from administration beforehand, I purchased Twine CBD oil in Atlanta at the Link2Sales Showroom. In fact, Link developed the product. However, I put it out and it got downed by the medical doctors doing the drug testing and the pharmacy so I am discontinuing it. It is selling all over our community. I am not a medical expert and our gift shop does not need to be seen as controversial so it is not for us right now. The problem is that in companies where they do drug testing, there is an issue with CBD oil causing them to fail drug test. I sold out of the cream first and am on the last of the oil.

— Connie Slingluff, CDVS, Director of Volunteer Services, Blount Memorial Hospital, Maryville, TN. 8/17/19


We had a few members of the hospital staff wanting cancer related items. Most companies sell just breast cancer things and that is it so that is what our gift shop had to offer. It was a great point these customers made, all cancers matter. I found who donates 10% of its net profits back to cancer research and customers are extremely happy about this. We have a sign stating that the company donates to cancer research next to all the products, along with a chart showing which colors stand for which cancers. Lots of different items & prices. Just wanted to share with everyone.

 – Tessa Soulsby, Retail Coordinator Culpeper Medical Center in Virginia. 10/19

Annaleece offers a nice breast cancer pin with Swarovski elements that are very elegant and classy, which retails at $42.50. If that is too expensive, Kelli’s Gift Shop Supplier has a nice option that retails under $5.00.

Bev Craig, Providence AK Gift Shop, Anchorage, AK. 9/16/19


We request proposals from various departments by a certain date and then the board meets to discuss them. Once we have decided on the ones we want to support, we put it to a vote at the auxiliary meeting. We also have two scholarships for $2500 each, for hospital employees furthering their education and we work with Human Resources to review applications and select recipients. Some of this money comes from the Gift Shop and some from cookbook sales, scrub sales, bake sales etc.

We try to hold a training meeting for volunteers in the fall before the holidays to review policies, such as returns, and to brush up on procedures and field ideas. We have a notebook in the shop for volunteers to record ideas, complaints, requests and for me to leave information about merchandise. I also host a lunch or tea party once a year for all the volunteers to thank them for their hard work. This is in addition to our Auxiliary Volunteer Luncheon which is put on by the hospital every spring. They recognize the hours given by each volunteer with pins for our badges, and small gifts. One volunteer of the year is chosen and given a plaque, pin and gift. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas in your newsletter. Almost every issue gives me a jump start on something new. This is my response for the quarter.

— Sandy Oldfield, Coquille Valley Hospital, Coquille, OR. 19 beds. 9/16/19

Our gift shop makes an annual donation to the hospital from our proceeds. We select a date for our “shopping spree” donation meeting. Next we get a list of ‘requests’ from the hospital. Then we label individual gift bags for each ‘request’. Invite hospital employees who can speak about the need/benefit of each item requested. After volunteers have heard about each item we pass out play money – 1 five, 1 ten and 1 twenty. Volunteers vote by placing their money in the gift bag of their choice. They can place all of their money in one bag or divide it. The bag with the highest amount of money is the source of the donation to be given. Often the total amount we have to give is divided between a few items. The volunteers love having involvement in this fun way. The employees who come to present have a chance to connect with the shop volunteers and personally thank them.

— Toni Gildone, Gift Shop Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, Monadnock Community Hospital. 9/4/19

The profits from the gift shop and vending services (we stock and collect from all 19 vending machines in the hospital) are given to the Volunteer program. These profits along with proceeds from our outside vendor sales (held 6 times a year) are placed into the Volunteer bank account. A team of people including the Volunteer Services Director, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer President, Committee Chairs for Projects (Vendor Sales) and Gift Shop/ Vending Services, and the Volunteer Vice President (head of Budget committee) meet to prepare a budget mid-year for the upcoming year. We have some standard items such as teen scholarships, employee scholarships, etc. that we fund year after year. Other requests from hospital departments are considered and then a proposed budget is set before the entire volunteer group for a vote.

— Angela Quinn| Cheer Corner Manager, UNC Lenoir Health Care, Kinston, NC. 8/18/19

Our shop has a board of volunteers who review the “wish list” from the hospital. Our board then meets with the hospital foundation members and together they determine where the money goes. If the foundation tells us about a special need in the hospital that is not on the list we will also consider their request. We have been handling it like that for 65 years and so far so good.

— Linda Cloud, Manager, The Window Shop, Blodgett Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI. 7/14/19


Working with TSR Wholesale (Password: fall2019) is a real delight. I have been buying for the ARHS gift shops from this company for years. TSR carries an excellent line of clothing with some of the same name brands you can find at the larger high-end department stores. If I can get my order in to TSR before 3pm, I have my merchandise the next day. That service cannot be matched. TSR has great prices on their lines and very competitive.

— Sallie Woodring, buyer, Appalachian Regional Health Care. 2 gift shops (Boone NC and Linville NC)


Q. I would like to know how many of you still have auxiliary’s, twigs, or other volunteer organization? We keep hearing that auxiliaries are disbanding. While we are small, we are able to contribute over $150,000 each year to our medical center. — Sherry Miller, Gift Shop Coordinator Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center, Cambridge, OH. 177 beds

Yes, auxiliaries are indeed “dying on the vine”! But we actually still have an auxiliary. We are having a general membership meeting with them today to proposed changes to their bylaws which we feel confident they will vote on (the Auxiliary Board has voted to approve the changes, but it has to go to the entire Auxiliary membership for a vote, then on to our Hospital Board of Trustees). Their bylaws are old and antiquated and the proposed changes will basically change their mission/purpose which really has come down to “fundraising” and their Auxiliary Board would go from 12 members down to 5, and cut down on the number of times they meet during the year, plus eliminating Auxiliary dues, etc. It will make it a much, much better functioning board. Stay tuned – but it is not over until the fat lady sings!!!! Say a little prayer at 2pm that all goes well!!! This is something I have been trying to get done for years!

—Cindy Fox, CAVS, Director of Volunteer Services, Maury Regional Medical Center, Columbia, TN. 9/18/19

We still have an auxiliary of 240 members. Our Gift Shop alone donates approximately $30,000 to the hospital each year plus what is taken in from vendor sales. We have had a Flea Market for the past 35 years (a one-day sale with two weeks of setting up and pricing items donated by the community and a 50/50 raffle) but had to cancel this year due to the aging of our volunteers. This may take a toll on our numbers as many of our auxilians got their “hours” working at the Flea Market. Thank you so much for this newsletter, Cindy. We’ve gotten many good ideas from it.

— Linda Hocking, Manager War Memorial Hospital Gift Shop, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, 85 beds

We have all volunteers in our store. I am the only paid staff as manager. We still have an Auxiliary but we are not as active as a few years ago. We hold fund raisers, a Holiday Bazaar, Rocker-thon, Support Fund and The Corner Store/gift shop. We are blessed with great volunteers that work well together and are very dedicated to their scheduled time. Since we no longer handle our big fund raiser, we are still able to donate back to the home between $50,000-$75,000 a year for the Agape Fund that assists residents whose money has been depleted. I enjoy the newsletter.

— Alta S. Yoder, Manager of Gif t Shop and Auxiliary, Living Branches Retirement Community, Souderton Mennonite Homes, Souderton PA. 9/19


Q. I am looking for a new candle line. Right now, I sell A Cheerful Giver, which has been good but I would like to try something different. I would love ideas. Thank you Jodi Babineau, Sunshine Gift Shoppe Rice Lake, WI. 40 beds. 8/12/19

We use Swan Creek Candle Company. 800-626-4590 or email

— Winifred Major, Gift Shop Manager, AR. 10/1/19

We carry Village Candle. If your order is over $1200, you get free freight. If less, you get half freight. It is certainly worth it to take advantage of the free freight. Maple Butter is our best seller. We no longer carry votive’s as they do not sell for us, but the melts are great!

— Sherry Miller, Gift Shop Coordinator, Southeastern Med, Cambridge, OH. 9/2/19

I have a candle recommendation for Jodi who is looking for a new candle vendor: Swan Creek Candle Company or email I have carried several lines of candles in the past and this one outsells them all consistently. Also, Stony Creek at Home, Inc. has some wonderful Christmas light up décor and snowmen.

Some other Christmas items that I would recommend are items from DM Merchandising, candles, clothing, jewelry, Snoozies socks, anything with snowmen on it, scarves and gloves. Our Christmas décor is selling less than it used to; I am noticing that the younger generation prefer minimal items in their homes for décor. Love your newsletter!

— Diane Honsberger, Manager, Volunteers/Gift Shop, Mercy Health, St. Anne Hospital Gift Shop, Toledo OH. 8/23/19

We were also looking for a new candle line and decided to start carrying the Swan Creek Candle line. The sales representative helped us determine the best-selling scents and sizes. We chose to start with 12 scents in the 12 oz vintage glass containers and purchased the basket displayer to show 16 of the sample-size glass containers (tiny jar with lid). We put them out and customers were amazed by how strong the fragrances were when you opened the lids. We sold so many the first 4 days we placed a reorder of both the sample size jars ($6.99 retail) and the 12 oz jars ($16.99). I think the combination of the great fragrance, cute container and the great retail prices make this line a winner. We have been looking to make a change for quite some time from Woodwick and the price increase and move to in-house sales sealed the deal for us.

— Anne Sutton, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Gift Shop, Cincinnati, OH. 8/19


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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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