for Gift Shop Managers
Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.
Have you paid your dues this quarter?
The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!
LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to email@example.com.
JANUARY 15, 2022
Vail Health Hospital Gift Shop, Vail, CO
Try setting New Year Goals, instead of resolutions
by Cindy Jones, Editor
I’ve been thinking that making New Year’s resolutions is a paradox. If we had the discipline to keep resolutions, we probably wouldn’t need to make them in the first place!
But goals are different. They are not a heavy chain around the neck but, instead, a bright challenge. Resolutions are forever – you’re not supposed to gain weight, smoke or live off your credit card ever again. But goals – aha! They last only as long as it takes to meet them and then set the next one – like organize your files, run a seven-minute mile, write a book, master a celestial chocolate cake, prepare a shop budget for 2022 and so on.
Have you set your New Years Goals for 2022?!
|Feb 2 – Groundhog Day|
Feb 4 – World Cancer Day
Feb 13 – Super Bowl Sunday
Feb 14 – Valentine’s Day
Feb 21 – President’s Day
Black History Month
|Mar 1 – Paczki Day & Mardi Gras|
Mar 2 – Ash Wednesday
Mar 8 – Int’l Women’s Day
Mar 17 – St. Patrick’s Day
Mar 30 – Doctor’s Day
|Apr 1 – April Fool’s Day|
Apr 9 – National Unicorn Day
Apr 17 – Easter Sunday
Apr 18 – Tax Day
Apr 22 – Earth Day
Apr 27 – Admin Prof Day
What is your shop’s niche category?
by Cindy Jones, Editor
I recently visited a hospital gift shop that had a considerably big jewelry department. A large percentage of their shop’s sales came from jewelry. They offered an exciting and tempting assortment of jewelry and the shop became the place for hospital employees to buy their jewelry. I watched in amazement as employees flocked into the shop to purchase their favorite earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.
A smart buyer determines the size of a category by its sales. If sales increase, then the buying and inventory should increase to meet the growing sales. Using an open-to-buy plan (OTB) is the sure way to know how much to buy. Open to Buy (OTB) is the difference between how much inventory is needed and how much is available. That includes inventory on hand, in transit, and any outstanding orders.
Many hospital gift shops have a “niche specialized category” that is hugely successful. Niche categories are usually the result of a very dedicated, attentive and talented buyer. The buyer researches then searches for the very best selling merchandise at the very best prices. They have one finger on the pulse of the shop’s unique customer (hospital employees) and another finger on what’s hot in the general retailing world.
If you’re using a POS system, sales per category numbers are automatically calculated usually. The information will help you determine available spending dollars and space allocations for each category.
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.
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ARBA POS releases fully integrated online store
ARBA Technology is rolling out online retail gift shop solutions that could work as apps on mobility devices as well as portals accessible from desktop devices. ARBA is responding to the hospital gift shop market and current Covid-19 pandemic which is impacting their revenues and demand. Healthcare providers that have a gift store on their medical campus more frequently leverage retired employees/volunteers to operate their gift shops.
ARBA Online Store accesses and updates customer inventory items the same way as the customer’s onsite POS kiosks. Periodic and daily revenue reports can also be run on online and onsite sales, along with inventory reports. Both the onsite and online applications access the same inventory databases, preventing rework in a dual inventory scenario which most other vendors offer.
ARBA’s Online Store is integrated with cashless payments to reduce the number of errors and eliminate cash handling altogether. Real-time inventory sync-up between the online store and the database will give back valuable time. ARBA Online Store can be added to your company’s existing website and use the same look and feel of your color schemes, fonts, and layouts.
- Real-time sync online inventory to POS System
- Payroll deductions
- Designate areas for pick up
- Declining balance accounts
- Department charges
- Company charges
THE ICU GUIDE FOR FAMILIES
Understanding Intensive Care and How You Can Support Your Loved One
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A “Volunteer Friendly” NCR Point of Sale solution
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Payroll Deduction and Inventory Management available.
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Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
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Canada hospital opens pop-up gift shop in local mall
The gift shop at Great War Memorial Hospital in Ontario, Canada has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. The closure has been a financial punch for the 123 volunteers who tried to find a way to raise funds for the hospital. They figure they have lost some $150,000 since the start of the pandemic, and more than 20,000 volunteer hours per year.
So, they decided to open a pop-up shop in the local shopping mall. Marilyn Litle, volunteer, said she hopes to extend their lease agreement past the end of January 2022.
The hospital intends to reopen the gift shop. “Unfortunately, it is difficult to establish a timeline for this return — especially when the increased prevalence of the COVID Omicron variant.
FULL ARTICLE/SOURCE: InsideOttowaValley
BEST SELLERS OF 2021
Q. What were your best sellers in 2021? Share your WINNERS AND LOSERS
It only takes a minute to share a few of your BEST sellers. Help your fellow shop managers succeed. Many are still struggling through the pandemic. Some are young or new to retail and just learning the job. You’ll benefit learning from others, as well. Feel free to share your WORST sellers too! : )
Don’t just take, give back!
Do your part and leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.
Connect. Share. Grow. ♡
How to escape your comfort zone
by Dave Wendland / Dec 30 2021
One of my favorite quotes is usually credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” The same can be said for a business.
A primary way to accelerate decision-making, rethink strategies and drive transformation is to move out of your comfort zones.
The comfort zone is the known, the familiar. It’s our default and what we can do automatically, without too much thought or difficulty. It feels comfortable, sheltered, reliable and pleasant, while keeping us out of danger. It’s also where we seldom need to try especially hard or expend much energy. Extending beyond one’s comfort zone is not for the faint of heart. It takes intentional effort. Here are four ways to think differently.
- Take a new route. I like to think of it similarly to Robert Frost’s famous words: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” The discovery along this new pathway can open your imagination, provide new points of reference and free your mind up to invite new knowledge in.
- Read voraciously. It doesn’t have to be a book about your industry or leadership or any other business topic. Simply expanding your thinking with fresh words and different circumstances allows you to stretch beyond your comfort zone.
- Meditate. I have found that sitting quietly and granting myself permission to just be still is not only refreshing but also enlightening. Breaking away, in any way you can, opens your ability to invite invigorating thoughts in.
- Build your network. Learning from others and broadening your network can certainly pave the way to creativity.
My last piece of advice is to solicit ideas from your staff. They likely have more firsthand knowledge about what changes will actually improve their jobs or enhance your deliverables. Don’t dismiss ideas that don’t come from the top. Gathering ideas from all levels of your organization can further push it outside of its comfort zone and inspire you to accelerate growth.
Change is hard, and inertia can become a real barrier to change and discovery. The last piece of advice noted about engaging all staff for ideas is really powerful. Leadership does not mean that your ideas are the best. It takes humility and an open mind to be willing to engage all levels of staff for input and ideas.
Embracing change is difficult for most people, whether in their personal or professional lives. Speaking about retail in particular, it’s too easy to function along the lines of “we’ve always done it this way” or “we’re up against these sales from last year.” That sort of mindset leads retailers down the road of complacency, stagnation or worse.
Is there a tool that imposes the sort of self-discipline necessary for retailers to avoid these traps? The “product life cycle” concept provides an objective way to track businesses as they trend downward from their peak. It takes some of the emotion out of the change management process.
- Be gentle with yourself, especially when the learning curve is steep.
- Get a “coach.” Seek out and embrace some kind of external accountability that will always be able to challenge your internal rationalizations and procrastination. The best athletes in the world have a coach. They might have some insight worth paying attention to.
- You must create an environment that values and encourages creative ideation, and constantly ask “if we were starting X today, how would you build it now?”
Q. How have you dealt with the decline in volunteers during the pandemic?
Have others encountered losses in the number of volunteers through the pandemic? We started out with over 30 non-gift shop volunteers and are now down to 7. In our gift shop, we had 17, now 3, one of which started mid-COVID (God Bless her!). We are currently thinking of hiring a part-time employee to man the front desk from 1-5pm. What have you done to remedy staffing and volunteer issues during the pandemic? Did anyone hire paid personnel? Thanks. – Sarah Folio, Garrett Regional Medical Center, Oakland, MD. 55 beds. 12/22/21
How many volunteers did your shop lose during the pandemic? How are you overcoming this? Leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.Thank you!
Connect. Share. Grow. ♡
Our volunteers are the epitome of humankindness
by Leslie Smart, Guest Columnist, The Sentinel Echo / Jan 5 2022
Over the past year, we at CHI Saint Joseph Health have formally recognized “A Year of Humankindness”. The special year served as a launch of our new brand promise, Hello humankindness, and celebrated the simple acts of kindness across our hospitals and clinics carried out by our employees and our communities.
Our volunteers are the epitome of humankindness. They so selflessly give of their time and their experience within the walls of our hospitals, but also, especially during the time of COVID, out in their homes and the communities. They brighten the days of our patients and staff – playing piano in some facilities, helping our cancer care teams, connecting with patients and escorting them to their destinations, and working in our gift shops.
As we have paused volunteer services in our hospitals during surges in the pandemic, our volunteers continue to serve. Our crafters contribute handmade hope – making stuffed animals, cancer hats, prayer shawls and pocket prayer quilts to share with our patients. This allows them to stay connected to our ministry and to our community.
Our volunteers manage the gift shops in the hospitals throughout the ministry and, starting in February, will assume responsibility for our gift shops at Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East. This new opportunity will allow our volunteers to give back even more to our community as they make decisions about how to use proceeds in our facilities. For instance, at Saint Joseph London, our volunteers use proceeds from the gift shop, which they staff, to award scholarships for students of our employees. At Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, they’ve contributed to Giraffe Omnibeds to care for our youngest patients. The Flaget Memorial Hospital Auxiliary provided funding for 3D mammography.
We have around 300 volunteers across CHI Saint Joseph Health, many of whom are retired. Our numbers typically grow in the summer, as we welcome teen volunteers into our hospitals. Our volunteers say their work at our hospitals give them the opportunity to remain active and to give back to their communities. It gives them that human connection that we all need, especially as we continue to navigate a global pandemic.
We expect the same is true for volunteers at other organizations in our community. These interconnections are more than just a transaction of activity given by the volunteer, received by an organization. They highlight an important piece of the fabric of our society – allowing us to work together for a common cause of improving our communities and recognize the humankindness that lives inside all of us.
It’s been a difficult few years as we’ve navigated the pandemic, and we are grateful for our volunteers and for those who serve in other ways in our community. As we start a new year and you reflect on your New Year’s resolutions, consider finding a way to give back to the community. Whether it’s at our hospitals, your church, your school or another community organization, volunteering is humankindness.
SOURCE: The Sentinel Echo London, KY
Q. What snack vendor do you use?
Can you recommend a wholesale distributor for snacks (popcorn, chips, pretzels, etc.)? Thank you! – Sarah Folio, Garrett Regional Medical Center, Oakland, MD. 55 beds. 12/5/21
We use our Nutrition Services food vendors, which have had good prices. Is that an option for you? – Justin Alcanter, Salem Health, Salem, OR. 484 beds. 12/6/21
Who’s your favorite snack vendor? Leave your comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.
Connect. Share. Grow. ♡
Check out this creative Valentine’s Day post from Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC.
💮 CALENDAR 💮
|*Always double-check show dates for changes*||Jan 23-27, 2022 |
Las Vegas Market, World Market Cntr
|Feb 2-6, 2022|
Atlanta Apparel Market, Atlanta GA
|Feb 6-9, 2022|
NY NOW Market, New York , NY
|Feb 12-15, 2022|
Intl Fashion Jewelry & Accessory Show, Orlando FL
|Mar 2-4, 2022|
Atlanta Spring Market
|Apr 4-5, 2022|
Seattle Mart Spring Buying Event
|Apr 8-10, 2022|
Los Angeles Spring Cash & Carry Show
|Jun 14-17, 2022|
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
|Jun 22-28, 2022|
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
|Jun 26-28, 2022|
Minneapolis Mart Gift, Home, Apparel & Accessory Show
|Aug 23-26, 2022|
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Shrinkage | PART 1. Preventing inventory shortages
by Cindy Jones, Editor
Inventory shortages is caused by multiple reasons: shoplifting, price tag switching, employee theft, shipping errors, lack of shop security, incorrect price tags, breakage, sloppy record keeping, items paid for but not received, and when sales are not rung-up. They all increase the cost of goods sold and shrink net profit!
|watch for customers who:|
|Avoid eye contact|
Wander the store without buying
Carry item around for a long time
Leave and return repeatedly
Linger in a hidden/remote area that’s hard to monitor
Keep an eye on staff and other customers
Bundle items into smaller shapes
Wear bulky clothing
Take offense to offers of assistance
…stick with them like glue until they leave the shop!
Prevent shoplifting by having well-trained and alert employees who know how to spot a potential shoplifter. Remember, theft occurs because the opportunity presents itself. Curtail the opportunities and you’ll reduce theft dramatically.
- Greet all customers as they enter the shop. Roam the shop.
- Ask lingering customers if they need help.
- Ask if you could assist by keeping the item(s) at the register until they have finished shopping.
- Be aware of ploys, diversions and teams of shoplifters.
- Know where shoplifting is most likely to occur in your shop.
- Display signs that “Shoplifters will be prosecuted.” Hospital gift shops must make the decision that shoplifters will be prosecuted. Then they must stick with that decision and train all volunteers and paid staff the procedure to follow when they spot a shoplifter.
- Reverse apparel hangers to prevent “grab and run”.
- Maintain an adequate number (two or more) of well-trained, alert cashiers to be on duty during each shift.
- Provide regular training sessions on how to deter shoplifting.
- Consider installing electronic detection equipment at the entrance if evidence of high theft occurs.
- Invest in rotating cameras and monitors.
- Install a panic button near the cash register that will alert security officers.
- The hospital security department and gift shop leadership or management team must have a detailed plan of action clarifying how to proceed in the apprehension of shoplifters.
- Imprint the shop’s name on the price stickers to ensure that returned merchandise came from your shop. The printed name also personalizes your shop to the customer. Use the break-away (perforated) price label. Break-away labels tear apart if price switching is attempted.
When shoplifting is suspected, it’s crucial for your volunteers and employees to know how to handle incidents. Never try to physically stop a shoplifter. Call security! Never directly accuse anyone of stealing. Call security, instead. Give the person a chance to pay for the item they “forgot” to pay for by asking, “Are you ready to pay for that?” or “Can I ring you up?” Cooperate fully with security and the prosecutor if/when the time comes.
NEXT ARTICLE: February 15, 2022
Shrinkage | PART 2: Preventing inventory shortages
DECEMBER 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #625
Did you miss last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions!
- To our loyal readers
- Do this the last 12 days of December
- We are now on LinkedIN!
- To-Dos for the first week in January
- 12 last-minute tips to grow your holiday sales
- Survey Results: Gift show travel budgets
- TCMH gift shop reopens for staff, patient visitors
- RESPONSES: Good scrub vendors or fundraisers
- Tips for maximizing Atlanta market from past attendees
- Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences
Q. Can anyone recommend a book distributor that sells current best sellers? We have suppliers for other types of books like Harvest House and Harper Collins, but not for popular fiction. – Sabra Shields, Sanford USD Medical Center, Sioux Falls, SD. 450 beds. 12/8/21
Are book and magazine distributors are dwindling? Who do you use? Comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.Thank you!
Connect. Share. Grow. ♡
Q. I am looking for information on scrub sales. Are there any good scrub vendors or fundraisers? I would rather go through a wholesale company. Thank you! – Cathy Taschler, Marshfield Medical Center, Marshfield, WI. 319 beds. 10/16/21
I sent out a survey to all hospital employees and Cherokee won by a landslide! Black was the top color as well! – Jenny Turner, UH Portage Medical Center, Ravenna, OH. 300 beds. 11/22/21
We use Scrubs on Wheels out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. They give back 15% for on-site fundraisers. They order items for employees who need something outside of what they brought with them that ship free to the gift shop. It’s easy for us, because all we do is process the payroll deduction! – Kerri Clark, Community Hospital, Munster, IN. 498 beds. 11/16/21
I have a vendor, Alexander’s Uniforms, I use where I don’t have any stock in store. The customers order online and the items ship here to the shop where the customer, if an employee in the hospital, uses payroll deduction to pay. We get 20% and all we do is ring it up!! – Christine Parker, Kent Hospital, Warwick. 11/4/21
We do very well with Cherokee (Carismatic), Dickies and Med Couture. These allow us to cover a good range of price points and styles. – Lisa Garland, Woman’s Hospital, Baton Rouge, LA. 168 beds. 10/18/21
Q. To everyone that responded, do you purchase directly from Cherokee, Dickies, etc. or do you have a middle man supplier? If middle man supplier, please provide name. – Marla Baker, Atrium Health Floyd, Rome, GA. 304 beds. 12/19/21
Do you have a good scrub vendor? Comment here
How are you and your shop doing with the pandemic? How are sales? How are you!?
We’re actually doing very well. Our hospital employees were ready to shop and they felt very comfortable coming into the gift shop. I try and carry every need they might have so they’re very satisfied! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! – Jenny Turner. 11/22/21
Sales are slow with employees. As patient families are allowed into the hospital our sales have increased significantly. – Lisa. 11/22/21
We are now on one year of having volunteers in the shop, but getting ready to have them out front. Time will tell if we are ahead of COVID or not. We fear we have lost 50% of them. The shop is doing ok but still 80% reliant on employees. We do lots of drawings for them. We use GemPay receipts; their name is already on there :) – Tricia Rochman, Pink Geranium Gift Shop, Carbondale Memorial Hospital, Carbondale, IL. 154 beds. 11/17/21
Our shop was closed for five months and reopened August 2020 with only myself and assistant working limited hours. We’re finally allowing volunteers to cashier but are still short of some coming back. Our sales are finally increasing and we are still doing our own floral as phone orders helped when visitors were not allowed. Looking for a much better Christmas and Valentines. – Karen Ferguson, Manager of St. David’s SAMC Auxiliary Gift Shop, Austin, TX. 334 beds. 11/16/21
We opened to allow our patients and staff the ability to shop M-F 10am to 2pm. Sales are definitely not where they were but it was expected. The difficulty we have now is that some of the vendors we had done business with cannot be reached. – Nancy Collins, New London Hospital, New London, NH. 24 beds. 11/16/21
We are slowly recovering…we are not opened on the weekends yet. Sales are bouncing back and outsiders are returning. Right now candles are really selling!! – Christine Parker, Kent Hospital, Warwick, RI. 359 beds. 11/4/21
We reopened in September 2020, to restricted hours 9 a.m.-1 p.m., our volunteers returned April 2021, so we are open most days from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Visitor restrictions went from no visitors, currently it is one visitor, have made a difference in customer count. Sales are down from 2019, by about $100 per day, viewing all the issues from merchandise complications, visitor restrictions, I think we are doing well. We have been to one Gift Show in Oct. 2021. – Mary Robinson, Gift Shop Coordinator, Mayo Clinic Health System, Mankato, MN. 10/29/21
Our Gift Shop has and continues to thrive since we reopened in July of 2020. Our employees find it a ‘place to take a break and breathe some fresh air of course with their masks on!’. We are very blessed and looking forward to a great Christmas season! – Alice Whisnant, Director, Volunteer Services, Caldwell UNC Health Care, Hickory, NC. 110 beds. 10/25/21
Our Shop has been closed since November, 2020. No sales at all since then. – Peter Waugh, Memorial Hospital, North Conway, NH. 25 beds. 10/18/21
Unfortunately, our gift shop was closed again in September due to increased COVID numbers in our area. We hope to reopen by November as we had just received our Christmas inventory. – Robin Truax, Gouverneur Hospital, Gouveneur, NY. 77 beds. 10/15/21
Struggling, we were a very new shop before Covid hit. I have kept it open myself and was able to allow volunteers to come back April 2021, however right now only two have come back so it is still mostly myself running the shop. That being said, we are not even back to full open hours yet, only open about 3-4 days per week. – Kasey B, Volunteer/Gift ShopCoordinator, Tomah Health, Tomah, WI. 29 beds. 10/2/21
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Carefully crafted activity kits to bring joy and fun to children. Gifts for hospitalized kids like activity boxes, kits with items to decorate a hospital room, conversation starters and much more.
Feel Better Room Decor Kit
Feel Better Putty
The Feel Better Kit!
The Feel Better Bag!
The Feel Better Box!
Magic Activity Kit
STEAM Activity Kit
Origami Activity Kit
I’m A Fighter Cape
Featured on Good Morning America. Sold in Target, Nordstrom, Walmart, Amazon.
MY GARDEN OF FLOWERS
Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
This award-winning beautifully illustrated book, My Garden of Flowers: Miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, by Dr. Manjeet Kaur is perfect for the hospital gift shop!
This invaluable resource for worried families gives parents knowledge and reassurance
that their critically ill infants will typically grow to adulthood and lead normal, healthy lives.
Weighted sleep masks for the exhausted doctors, nurses, and, frankly, just about anyone!
Lay softly across your head to apply gentle, evenly distributed pressure.
One side features a cooling jersey cotton which can be placed in the freezer, the other a warm microfiber.
Like a hug for the head.
Winner: Good Housekeeping’s 2021 Best Bedding Award
Featured in Oprah Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, Rolling Stone
Sold in Crate&Barrel, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, Whole Foods, Barnes&Noble
More than just a hoodie…
These inspirational shirts make great gifts for anyone needing a smile. For each shirt sold, one is donated to a kiddo fighting cancer. Sizing: 6 mo – 4XL
As an incentive, we are happy to donate the amount purchased to your pediatric oncology department.
Featured in Gift Shop and Wired Magazines
fully posable, officially licensed LEGO minifigure flashlight keychains are for LEGO fans of all ages.
Push a button on the character’s belly to activate bright LED lights in the feet. Batteries are included.
Available in eye-catching 16-count counter displays
World’s most beloved brands, LEGO!