Univ of Iowa Children's Hospital

Cindy’s Newsletter | January 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 operations and grow revenue.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION! Exchange ideas, ask questions, and gain insight from other shop managers. Click the orange comment bubbles below or send your contributions to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com. Include # of beds!

JANUARY 15, 2020

Feature Image: Univ of Iowa Children’s Hospital

Get the Most Out of January Market at AmericasMart

AmericasMart Atlanta offers an enormous selection of merchandise for every type of gift shop, and the sheer volume of product might seem overwhelming. We sat down with some veteran buyers to find out what they’d recommend in order for new and returning buyers to get the most out of the trip to January Market. Here’s what they suggest.

Tip 1: Make a Plan
AmericasMart offers tools to help buyers discover new products, and registering early will ensure buyers can take full advantage of these freebies. Molly Egbert, owner-operator of Tin Roof Gift Shop in Princeton, Kentucky, has been in business for 18 years and is working on opening a second location. “When the book comes out, it is like a celebration,” Egbert said.

As soon as the Atlanta Market Magazine arrives in early December, Egbert takes the time to Google search the vendors in the temporaries to find out if they are right for her clientele. She creates appointments during the first two days of Market with her staple brands to ensure she is able to get those early shipments. Her planning process is extensive, but it is how she is able to get special deals on shipping and be part of the first wave of shipments. “This is extremely important to me in a highly competitive industry,” Egbert said. In addition to free or discounted shipping, Egbert looks for Net 90 terms from vendors- a perk of being a VIP.  

Tip 2: Organize your Path
When Egbert gets to Market, she begins on Floor 18 in Building 2. It’s more spacious with larger showrooms, so it is a serene place for Egbert to start the process as opposed to busier areas like floor seven. In order to stick to her budget, she is certain to make appointments with the brands she always buys during the first two days as well. She methodically makes her way through every single floor in Building 2 and goes through Building 3, then Building 1, ending at the temporaries. With the level of detail she has in her plan, she is able to see it all.  Read more…

Quickcharge POS



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

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.


2020 Vision for 2020. Here we go!

Look to the future of your hospital gift shop. Start planning for this new decade!

Engage, learn and connect! Make learning a priority in 2020. View webinars, attend trade shows and conferences to help you do just that.

Watch your margins. Use free freight and other discounts whenever possible to reduce inventory costs, and don’t be afraid to take more than keystone markup on some items.

Set realistic goals to help your business succeed! Service, expertise and adding value will thrive in 2020.

New merchandise and new lines excites shoppers! Read publications, attend markets, and consult with your sales reps to see what introductions are out there that would sell well in your shop.  Ask for specials in order to offer your customers sale pricing at full markup.

Are you burnt out? The holidays are exhausting. Work hard to maintain balance in your life between your shop, your family, your health, and your spirit.

Find your passion again. Find the joy you may have lost and use that to motivate you again. You can’t coast on hope or ride on the wings of angels. You have to use your initiative and ingenuity. You need to be your own angel! Hope is not enough! You need to take action! Get out there and rattle some cages. Rattle your own cage. Take chances. Call someone, initiate something, do something to grow your shop!



January 26, 2020
Non-Profit Retail Symposium Lunch & Learn Panel Discussion. Las Vegas Market. 12:30 – 2:00 PM Registration
February 17 – 19, 2020 
“Applying New Retail Concepts to Hospital Gift Shops” Lilly Stamets, Premier Retail Consulting. 2020 California Hospital Volunteer Leadership Conference. Newport Beach, CA. Registration
March 22 – 24, 2020 
Society for Healthcare Volunteer Leaders (SHVL) 2020 Education Conference. New Orleans, LA.  Registration
April 28 – May 1, 2020 
Hospital Gift Shop Manager’s Association of the Carolinas, Double Tree Myrtle Beach Oceanfront. Contact Amy at acfarris@lexhealth.org


Jan 14 – 21, 2020 
Atlanta International Gift &Home Furnishings Market (Winter). Atlanta, GA 🔗
Jan 15 – 18, 2020 
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market. Dallas, TX
Jan 22 – 27, 2020
Seattle Mart Gift Show. Seattle, WA 🔗
Jan 25 – 28, 2020
Philadelphia Gift Show (Winter). Philadelphia, PA
Jan 26 – 30, 2020 
Las Vegas Market (Winter). Las Vegas, NV

Instant Displays

Collect gift-giving items from around your shop to create holiday-themed displays.

Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14
Fresh flowers and plants, gift baskets, fancy foods, fragrances, soaps, paper goods, candy…

Administrative Professionals Day, Wednesday, April 22 
Appointment books, plaques of gratitude, pen/pencil sets, mugs, flowers…

Easter, Sunday, April 12
Spring flowers and plants…

National Nurses’ Week, May 6-12
Mugs, figurines, flowers, pocket calendars, pens on a rope, address books…

Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10
Fresh flowers and plants, gift baskets, fancy foods, fragrances, soaps, paper goods, candy, crystal rose bowls, birdhouses…

Father’s Day, Sunday June 21
Neckties, items related to travel, transportation, desk items, sports related, western, novelties and gadgets…

Mercy Hospital, St. Louis


Do you get an annual bonus or sales-based incentive?

Volunteers & Clerks

Beyond helping customers locate and purchase the merchandise they need, hospital gift shop clerks and volunteers play another important role in many situations, that of a confidante or caregiver. After all, it’s never easy to see a friend or loved one in the hospital infirmed or in pain. When someone walks into a hospital gift shop, that person may be looking for far more than candy or soda. They might need a smiling face and listening ear. The hospital gift shop volunteer has an amazing power to brighten the day and ease the concern of a worried friend or family member



snoozies!®  •   Flipbook

Get a FREE pair of snoozies!® at the ATLANTA gift show!

Bring a copy of Cindy’s Newsletter
and your business card to the snoozies!® showroom
in B2, 7th Floor, # 741A. Buyers only.


The J Months

Do you cringe when you think about the “J” months; January, June, July. These are typically slow months for sales. So, get your creative juices going and begin making plans now for various promotional events to boost sales in your shop during the dreaded ‘J’ months. 

Set up a calendar for special events and window displays. Take notes to the market with you so that you can buy product to support these plans.

Keep in mind that the ‘J’ months are also the best months to conduct a shop renovation since traffic is slow.

Buy right, buy often,
and keep your inventory fresh.

When something does not move,
move it out!

10 Retail Resolutions

To Make This the Most Profitable Retail Year Ever!

  1. I will never, ever, take my hospital employees (our primary customer) for granted.
  2. I will make a habit of catching, praising and rewarding my staff for “doing things right”.
  3. I will keep the floors vacuumed, the fixtures neat and my counter clean. These little things make a BIG impression. I will always remember, “Retail is detail”.
  4. I will manage my inventory like our shop depends on it (which it does!). I will never run out of best sellers and my “dogs” will get marked down and sent down the road. I will spend time this year learning the “nuts and bolts” of how to buy properly.
  5. I will take responsibility for my part in the things that don’t work. I will not blame the economy. I will “pack my own parachute”.
  6. I WILL NOT WHINE. It won’t change one doggone thing.
  7. I will constantly learn and improve. I will pay attention to what works and why. I will apply what I’ve learned to make everything I do better, easier and more profitable.
  8. I will respond to stress with action. Every time I feel stressed out, I will immediately find a way to solve the problem and act. I will do something positive.
  9. I will remember that perceived value is never out of fashion. When buying, I will find items with great perceived value that will allow me to keep margins at the 55% to 60%.
  10. I will have fun. I will make my professional life a wonderful adventure – not always easy, but always worthwhile. Hey, if I’m going to spend at least a third of my life someplace you can bet I’m going to enjoy it!

Don’t take over a decade for these resolutions to become habit. They represent the traits we need to keep our eyes on if we want to achieve long-term, big-time success.

– Adapted from WhizBang! Retail Training

January Action Plan

  •  It’s time to take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for the great job you did over the holidays!
  • Mark every Friday the 13th with a “SPEND $13 | GET 13% OFF ” sale.  🎉
  • Put all Christmas merchandise on sale at 40% off. Hallmark did a study and found customers did not purchase differently whether the discount is 40% versus 50% off on after Christmas sales. So, just do 40% off for the first week after Christmas, and then go down from there. Make judgment calls on certain lines whether or not to discount further after the first week. Then pack leftovers away or donate. Try not to hold over any product. If it didn’t sell this year, chances are it won’t sell next year.  However, you might hold over items that sold well but perhaps you were a little too optimistic in your ordering. ✂️
  • Mark the months with five Fridays and hold a “FIFTH FRIDAY $5 OFF SALE”. Qualify it by taking $5 off any purchase totaling $25 or more. That way you are only giving a 20% discount at the most, but usually it is less than 20% off because they often spend more than the $25. It is also a good incentive to add on to a sale that might only be $20 initially. It helps to have a ‘$ off’ button setup on your POS register which pro- rates the discount off each item purchased. If a customer returns just one item, the sale price is listed by item on the receipt. Be sure to advertise this event with emails to all hospital employees.  🎉

…. Learn what to buy this month, what to mark down, and what to display. Get the Valentine’s pre-order template and all of the January action plan in the Twelve Month Action Plan



Q. With no dressing room, how do others handle customers that want to try on clothing?  How can we sell apparel without?  – Singh. 1/3/2020


Q. We are looking for vendors for baby items and backpacks? I have gotten baby items from Kellies but they do not have zipper slippers.  I have also had a request for backpacks and have not been able to find a vender.  We are a small hospital of 18 beds. Cindy, you do an awesome job keeping us informed and helping solve issues. Thanks again for all you do!! – Lori Bullerman, Pipestone County Medical Center, Pipestone, MN. 25 beds. 12/31/19


Q. We are preparing to do our first organized inventory this week. Do we count items sold on consignment as inventory?  In the past we didn’t include these items because we didn’t actually own the stock. Thank you. – Robin Truax, Gouverneur Hospital, Gouverneur, NY. 77 beds. 12/29/19


Q. What is everyone is charging for a standard candy bar? I sure don’t want our hospital employees thinking we are scamming them. – Sandy Palmer, Harrison Valley. 311 beds. 12/28/19


We have purchased basic turbans for chemo patients for years from Betmar and a lesser expensive style from Kelli’s. We also recently started carrying a line of greeting cards called Kimo Kards. We have received a lot of positive feed back on these from our customers. – Sandy White, Shop Manager. 12/25/19


The biggest sellers in our shop is purses, scarves, and jewelry. Thank you for this newsletter and your support all year long.  Lots of great information. – Nancy Collins, Volunteer Services Manager, London Hospital, New London, NH. 12/23/2019


Q. What looks or themes has everyone been successful with this Christmas? Our biggest selling items continue to be in metallics, silver, copper, and gold mixed with white. I have been less successful with “cute” Christmas (i.e. Santa, Snowmen, and Gingerbread). Even when I google “Christmas trends for 2020” almost all of the pictures are showing metallics. Is anyone else seeing this trend in their market area?  – Eric Wininger, Gift Shop Manager, Reading, PA. 759 beds.  12/16/19


Q. I would like to know if anyone was down in sales for November? Our sales were down about $6,000 year over year. In my area, a lot of the stores had their Christmas items on sale at 50% off the second week of November which I believe had a lot to do with it. That, the weather in my area, and a couple of internal changes were all culprits.  I was just curious if anyone else was down due to the shortened holiday season with Thanksgiving being a week later.  – Kim DeBord, Marketplace Manager, Riverside Medical Center, Kankakee, IL. 325 beds. 12/4/19

My November sales are also down but we need to keep in mind that Thanksgiving was a week later this year and Thanksgiving really does kick off the Holiday Season. I am expecting to make up the difference in December and we are off to a stronger start than last year. I think it is too soon to tell how are this year’s Holiday Season will end up. Thanks for another great newsletter! I hope everyone has a very successful Holiday Season. – Carol A Colpitts, Gift Shop Manager/Buyer, Milford Regional Medical Center, Milford, MA. 116 beds. 12/8/19


Something that worked extremely well for us was a Tote Sale. I bought holiday totes from Burton & Burton for $1.66 each, priced them at $4.99 which is a 66.73% mark-up. The promotion is, buy a tote at $4.99 and anything you can get in the tote is 25% off.  And our pitch is “We can make anything fit in a tote.” We sold out of the totes in 2 days and I bought a lot of them.  I do a tote sale two times a year and my customers/employees can’t wait for it. Thank you so much and happy holidays. – Kim DeBord, Marketplace Manager, Riverside Medical Center, Kankakee, IL. 325 beds. 12/4/19


Warmies, a heatable plush and home therapy product. They are always adding new items to their line. 844-927-6437
Simply Pairables from Snoozie Slippers. They have added a lot of new items. Simply Pairables are now available in women’s and men’s sizes. 252-650-7000
SwirlyDo Hair Ties by Lindo. I carry them in the large and small and I have reordered several times. This is a great product to keep at the checkout counter. 206-973-2363 – Sally Begue, Gift Shop Manager, Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron, OH. 263 beds.10/16/19

The Gathering of Friends cookbook series is good. The photos in this book are fantastic, the recipes just wonderful, and they include a shopping list and place for guests to sign at each gathering. With the holidays coming up I highly recommend it! Cost is $12.50; I sell them for $29.95. – Anonymous. 10/19/19


My Garden of Flowers


Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Dr. Manjeet Kaur’s beautifully illustrated book,
My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
is perfect for the hospital gift shop!

This invaluable resource for worried families

gives parents knowledge and reassurance
that their critically ill infants will typically
grow to adulthood and lead normal, healthy lives.


i3 Verticals – NCR Point of Sale Solution

A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
for hospital gift shops. Easy to learn! Easy to use!
Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our
“Hospital Gift Shops: Tips for Success” booklet.




Hallmark’s brand promises to make a genuine difference
in every life, every day! Hallmark is a perfect partnership
for hospital retail. Create a relaxing respite for staff,
visitors and patients. Flexible floor plan options and attractive
opening terms make this a great opportunity for your hospital gift shop!



for Magazines and Paperback Books

For Hospital Gift Shops! Crossword Puzzles!
Cell Phone Accessories! Largest Percent Discounts
Customize and change orders anytime!
Receive credit on all unsold magazines.

Huge Magazine Selections!


© 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.

22 replies
  1. Deborah McKenzie says:

    We are looking to update from an outdated cash register to a new web-based POS system this year. I’ve determined the features we would need and have started researching but am becoming a bit overwhelmed. I’m curious to know what POS systems other hospital gift shops use and recommend? (Especially in smaller hospitals) Any info would be very helpful. Thank goodness for this newsletter!
    Deb McKenzie, Mgr.
    Moose Ledge Gift Shop, Littleton Regional Healthcare
    Littleton, NH. 25 beds

    • Angela Quinn says:

      We are using NCR Counterpoint. We installed this system almost 6 years ago and have upgraded successfully (and easily) twice since that time. Once was a minor upgrade to install an Ingenico Card Machine and most recently was to allow us to be compatible with Windows 10 software as required by our hospital. We have been pleased with the software and especially with the ease of use for our volunteer population.

  2. Cindy says:

    Welcome to the New Year and the new format for Cindy’s Newsletter!

    Click the orange comment bubbles to join the discussion!

  3. Nancy Johnsen says:

    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!

  4. Vicki Holcombe says:

    Hi Lori,
    We have carried Stephen Joseph back packs and other items for a few years now. Good sellers, especially for summer and back to school.
    Some of our baby lines include:
    Mud Pie – apparel & gifts
    Maison Chic – apprarel, burpies, blankets, plush
    London Bridge – great line of tutus
    Mary Meyer – Wubanub pacifers. plush & baby mats
    Angel Dear – apparel
    Stephan Baby – apparel
    Bella Tunno – silicone bibs, bowl & spoon sets and teethers
    Cherished Moments – great baby jewelry
    And, we just found a new line at market called Collectibles America with some beautiful onesies and baby jewelry
    I hope this helps!

  5. Vicki Holcombe says:

    Hi Kim,
    Our November sales were significantly down also, and I think Carol has a point about Thanksgiving being later affecting that. Luckily we had a better December which made up for it and helped our overall year’s total.

  6. Mary Robinson says:

    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.

  7. Anonymous says:

    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!!

  8. Leslie Hollingsworth says:

    We have our restrooms across the hall, I offer for them to go try it on..so 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.

  9. Cindy Jones says:

    Thank you Vesta. We’re really excited to launch the new newsletter and this format for reader discussions.

    There are a lot of new comments, which is exactly what we hoped to bring our readership!

  10. Curt says:

    Just an FYI – if you’re buying something at a cost of $1.66 and selling it for $4.99, that is a 200% markup and a 67% gross margin….

  11. Sarah Folio says:

    Hi, I am a new Gift Shop Manager for a small county hospital. As spring is almost here, I need a wholesale distributor for Spring/Summer clothing. I am in Western Maryland. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!! Love this newsletter. :)

  12. Bridget Putnam says:

    We have been having price increases through our supplier and really had no option but to increase our price. We went from $1.00 to $1.25. Our customers have not complained about the price increase.


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