Retail + Wholesale Jewelery and Pendant Displays: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Creating engaging retail displays is part art and part science. In this visual blog post, we look at specific retail displays for wholesale jewelry and pendants that are good examples, as well as those that need improvement. Learning from these examples can improve retail sales.

Well thought out, inviting, stocked nicely.

One item left, one line has 6 SKUs with only one facing!

One item left, one line has 6 SKUs with only one facing!

Is the front of this spinner display any better?

Is the front of this spinner display any better?

Well stocked, ready to sell.

Well stocked, ready to sell.

Here are the dregs!

Here are the dregs!

Dead slat wall.

Dead slat wall.

Planning retail display in your gift or souvenir shop is critical. In the best examples, you can see both breadth and depth to the product line. In the not-so-good examples, you see dead space and product that looks neglected. Neglected product and unused space indicate to the customer that these are not products they really want to buy. Further, displays that aren't deep or broad do not give them enough of a choice. You cannot sell what you do not display, and you cannot sell more of what you do not display well!

The Magic Number for Purchasing a Wholesale Jewelry Line

By Paul Hartlieb

Starting in 1986, I started a somewhat unique retail business. The nature of the business forced me to be extremely focused on inventory selection and levels.  As a result of that business, I realize some basic concepts that can and should be applied to many other retail situations.  For 15 years, from 1986 to 2001, we traveled the United States and sold gifts, from around the world, at professional conferences.

There is nothing like traveling thousands of miles, sometimes paying thousands of dollars, to sell out of a 10ft by 10ft booth.  You have only two, 3 or 4 days to make your sales.  You want to control as much as you can.  Selecting the right product mix to sell is critical.  And bringing the proper number of each product, given the space limitations, is also critical.  My motto was that I always wanted to have only one item of each product left to pack up.  If I ran out of product before the end of the conference, I could be missing sales.

So how does this apply to a traditional retail storefront?  In asking this question I assume that one does not have unlimited space nor a bottomless back account. In your store you not only need to decide which product to carry, but also how much of each.  Limit your selection too much and you may leave out best sellers, or not even present enough to capture the attention of your buyers.  Limit the quantity (depth) of each SKU , particularly, and you may never capture enough information to determine if the line is successful.

Today, as a producer and distributor of product, it is still surprises me when a new account wishes to order a narrow selection and only one of each item.  You must ask yourself…

1.     What will I learn about this line with the order I am placing?

2.     Have I ordered a broad enough selection to attract the buyer’s attention?

3.     Have I ordered deep enough to know the validity of the sales?

 

Let’s discuss the last two questions:

Breadth

When I traveled years ago I carried a wonderful line of earrings.  This line sold well at almost all the conferences I exhibited.  I regularly stocked over two-dozen different styles.  However, I noticed that when I only had six, or seven, or eight designs left, they just did not sell.  I came to the conclusion that the small selection just did not make a strong enough statement to attract buyers, even in my small booth.  So there were times that I left the line at home and did not display it… because I did not have enough variety.  It made more sense to me to bring another line that I did have good stock in.  Remember, I only have a 10 by 10 booth and every square foot had to perform.

The top photo example shows a good depth of product within a display. the bottom is an example of a lack of breadth and depth

 

Depth

Selling out of product at a conference is a mixed blessing. The good is that when sales went well I didn't have to pack what I already sold.  The down side is that I may have sold more if I had brought more.  There were times at conferences when this happened.  Sometimes a conference attendee came back to shop toward the end of the conference and I no longer had the item they were interested in.  Most often I lost the sale.  Buying at event like this is extremely impulsive and most buyers did not want to wait for me to ship them product once I had it back in stock. I lost business because I no longer had the product on hand. Ordering in proper depth allows you to not have to worry about a situation like that.

Of course, most retailers do not have limitless space and bank accounts to carry crazy amount of everything.  So my suggestion is carry a broad enough and deep enough selection, particularly with a new line, so that you will know if the line is worthwhile and the best sellers within the line.  Ordering one of each will tell you very little since there is no way to tell the depth of demand.  The sale of the first item may have been a fluke, and without having the second or third piece to sell, you will not know.

Breadth of sales give you an indication of the overall success of the line.  Depth of sales tells you which items with in the line are the top sellers.

This is much more art than science.  Each product line will have different amounts of breath and depth to stock to continue its success.  Quite often I referred to this as the magic numbers.  Because each line was different and I never knew ahead of time, when I was trying out a line, what the number would end up being.  However, with trial and error, my intuition guided me toward more successful selections.

Creative Retail Displays for Wholesale Ornaments and Gifts

By Lisa Mason

Keeping your retail area current and up to date is a must to keep your customers coming back and having a new experience each time they visit, which in turn leads to more sales.  Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

Reset at least a portion of your store and display windows on a regular basis (monthly or bi-monthly is suggested.)  This will keep your regular shoppers coming back to see what’s new.  Your customers and employees will enjoy sharing what’s new leading to increased sales!

Catching shopper eyes is a perennial challenge for gift retailers. Resetting your retail gift shop displays helps create the new and fresh that your shopper craves. (Photo - Twiggies in downtown DeWitt, Michigan)

Catching shopper eyes is a perennial challenge for gift retailers. Resetting your retail gift shop displays helps create the new and fresh that your shopper craves. (Photo - Twiggies in downtown DeWitt, Michigan)

Put an item in your display window that will make the potential customer not only stop, but are motivated enough to go from a window shopper to an actual paying customer.  This item doesn’t have to be store or product related, just one that will for sure catch your potential customers’ attention.  Also, be sure that your window and display areas are clean.  Nothing will turn your customer off more than smudged windows and expired insects on display!

Wow your customer as soon as they walk in the door.  Put your newest products and most attractive displays to the front of the store to be seen as soon as your customer walks through the door.

Be sure to use lighting to showcase your display areas.  This will draw your customer to that particular location and also assist them in seeing pricing and sizing, clearly.

Since we’re on the subject of pricing, be sure every item on your sales floor is priced.  One quick way to frustrate your customer is to not have items priced or clearly priced.   The same practice needs to be followed for sale items/areas.  Make sure signage is clear and well placed.

Schedule your store reset on a regular basis and during a time of the day that you know your business is a bit slower so you have plenty of time to complete your reset.  A certain section of your sales floor at a time should be tackled rather than having the entire store in disarray.

Encourage sales staff to come up with new and exciting display ideas.  Being part of the “team” and having input goes a long way to make your employee’s feel they are a valuable part of that team.  Holidays, local events, and season are just some themes to consider.

Resetting your retail gift shop displays requires that you walk through your store with your customer's hat on (perhaps even a literal hat, as shown here...)

Resetting your retail gift shop displays requires that you walk through your store with your customer's hat on (perhaps even a literal hat, as shown here...)

Finally, do a walk thru to see how the new window/display/reset will feel to your customer.  Will it make them walk on by or catch their eye drawing them in and leading to a sale you may have missed with the same old tired window and display?

Resetting your retail displays on a regular basis, creatively displaying your newest products and encouraging customers to buy, not just browse, is what makes successful retail stores outperform their peers.

 

Making the most of your time and money while shopping a wholesale gift trade show

Lisa Mason

Trade shows are a great way to research NEW new product for your business and also connect with current vendors to see what’s NEW new in current lines you carry.  Trade shows give you the opportunity to place an order that you may have planned on ordering anyway and the opportunity to take advantage of “show specials” that may not be offered throughout the year.

Making the most of your time and money while shopping a wholesale gift tradeshow

Trade shows are a great way to research new product for your business and also connect with current vendors to see what’s new in current lines you carry.  Trade shows give you the opportunity to place an order that you may have planned on ordering anyway and the opportunity to take advantage of “show specials” that may not be offered throughout the year.

To make the most of your buying time during a trade show make an appointment with new “must see” vendors.  Many times a new product line will attract quite a bit of traffic to a vendor’s booth and you may find their staff  busy with other buyers.  The opportunity to come back to that particular area of the trade show may not arise again for you during the show.  Most vendors will welcome the opportunity to set aside specific time just for you.  If at all possible, research this business prior to your meeting. If they have a website that will introduce you to their product lines, you can then be somewhat familiar going into the meeting at the show

Here are some questions you may need answers to when meeting a new vendor:

  1. Does the vendor have initial order and reorder minimums? 
  2. Do they offer quantity discounts?
  3. Does the vendor offer show specials?
  4. FREE shipping? 
  5. Discounted pricing? 
  6. Extended terms?
  7. How long is the show special in effect? 
  8. Do they allow future ship orders? 
  9. Do the show specials apply to future ship orders?
  10. Do they offer name drop or custom programs? 
  11. What is the lead time needed for custom items? 
  12. Is there a set up fee for custom products? 
    1. Can an original design be created for you or do you need to supply logo/design files? 
  13. What is the quantity requirement for a custom product?
  14. Where is their product made? 
  15. Where does the product ship from?   
  16. How long will it take to get to you?
  17. Is there standard shipping charge or actual shipping charges?
  18. What type of packaging?
    1.  Gift box? 
    2. Hang card? 
    3. Are there displays available and if so is there a cost or order minimum to receive the display? 
    4. Are custom displays available? 
  19. What is needed to set up terms? 
    1. Are they flexible with terms depending on the seasonality of your business?  Bring along a current credit reference sheet with you to set up terms during the show. 
  20. *What type of customer service do they offer?
    1. Will you have a specific sales/account manager to assist you when you call to place an order or assist you with any product issues or shipping  issues that may arise?
  21. Do they offer a guarantee?
    1.  If so, what are the specifics of that guarantee?
    2. What is the time frame of the guarantee? 
  22.  Do they offer free return shipping?  
    1. Does the return policy offer a product exchange or money back for items returned? 
  23.  Do they offer a suggested retail price? 
  24. Will they be able to work with you on their wholesale cost to meet your margin?

When reordering from current vendors be sure to have your order ready BEFORE attending the show.  Does the vendor offer an order form that will streamline ordering?  You can always adjust an order if you find that there is a new product or new designs that you would like to add to what you currently carry, but having your order ready before the trade show will save you valuable shopping time. 

Bottom line, to make the most of your tradeshow time and money, be as organized as possible.  Invest the time prior to a trade show to research new companies, and products,. Have orders ready for current products/vendors.  Set up appointments whenever possible to save yourself time. Don’t’ be afraid to ask a vendor to work with you on terms, products cost, and a show special that meets your needs.  Most vendors will be flexible if they can.  They want your business and they want a happy customer, so don’t be afraid to ask. 

 

How Bird Migrations Can Be a Bonus to Your Retail Souvenir Gift Shop

This blog post is a guest post by Julie-Anna Blomquist and Amanda Walker, Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. We're interviewing Amanda and Julie-Anna to gain insight into how their retail souvenir gift shop works with bird migration schedules to create engaging events for their visitors.

Tell us about the bird migration time?

We witness waves of ducks, geese, cranes, and raptors arriving in the fall and leaving in the Spring. The migration ranges approximately from mid-October to mid-February. On their tails, we see shorebirds arrive in the Spring, followed by hummingbirds and nesting songbirds. All these birds are responding to changes in habitat (primarily food availability), which is closely managed here.

What events does your organization wrap around this? 

We host a wide variety of events, from photography workshops and birding tours, to archery and duck banding for kids. In 2016, we had large owl tours at night, guided fly off tours in the morning, and much, much more. 

*How many people attend? 

Nearly 6,000 people came through our Visitor Center doors from November 15th-20th, 2016. That number may not necessarily include workshop participants.

Photography provided by Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Rescue

*How do you plan for product inventory purchases for this event?

In the Bosque del Apache Nature Store, we start purchasing most of our inventory in the summer and early fall. Our goal is to insure that the shelves are full by November.

*What kinds of displays do you use for products that you sell at this event? 

We highlight our local artisans and our Fair Trade and made in the USA products. As we are in cooperation with the Refuge, our goal is to limit any negative effects on the environment and to support local commerce as much as we can. 

*What are the purchasing habits of your customers (one time, collector, gifts, for self, etc.)?

This is another tricky question. Many of our customers buy items to remind themselves of the fun they've had during Festival or on their visit to the Refuge. Others folks might do all their Holiday shopping with us during our Sandhill Crane Festival. As for what folks purchase, small items tend to be preferable. Magnets, postcards, note cards, patches, jewelry, and apparel are always popular.  And of course, any product featuring Sandhill Cranes is sure to be a great seller!

*What is your top piece of advice for a similar organization looking to maximize their local migration of birds? 

This is tricky . . . Are you looking to create the best habitat for migrating birds? Or to capitalize on existing migrations patterns? As to habitat-look at what is already utilizing the space - are there ways to manage the resources more efficiently? Can you get people excited about the resource and/or wildlife? Is it the right space to invite the public to be apart of? i.e. facilities, space, safety, etc.) Keep the wildlife in mind first - create an event (if warranted) that is sustainable and doesn't discourage the migration in the first place!

How To Choose The Right Wholesale Jewelry Line For YOUR Business

Tianna Heinig

There are thousands of options for wholesale jewelry, so how do you decide which ones to pick for your store?  Not all jewelry lines are compatible with your business. A line that sells well in the store next door may be a total flop in yours and vice-versa.  While the number of options can be overwhelming, there are steps you can take and questions you can ask to weed through the selection and get to a choice you can be confident in.

 

WHERE TO BEGIN

First things first, you need to find out what your options are. Here are some places where you can find wholesale jewelry lines:

 

Trade Shows

Wholesale trade shows can be a great place to find wholesale jewelry that fits with your store. Going to a trade show allows you an opportunity to see numerous products first hand. There are many options for trade shows, so you’ll want to do some research to pick the right one. Ask your self what you are looking for, and then look to see if the trade show provides that.

IGES Show Pigeon Forge, TN. Photo courtesy IGES.

IGES Show Pigeon Forge, TN. Photo courtesy IGES.

 

Your Clients and Your Vendors

If a someone thinks a jewelry line could be a great fit for your store, they could be right! Product suggestions can be viewed as opportunities. While you know your market best, you should at least genuinely consider products that are suggested to you, especially by your customers. If you’re getting a suggestion from a vendor, remember that they know hundreds or thousands of their own clients, who run retail businesses, and they’ve seen it all. Their expertise can range from what inventory works best, to display ideas for your store, to merchandising suggestions and event tie-ins that other clients have used to successfully boost sales. Vendors can be a wealth of best-practice information.

 

The Internet

Searching online from the comfort of your own space can be nice, and easily fit into your schedule. The downside is not being able to hold the product in your hand. If quality is a factor for you, be sure to request a sample before placing an order.  You also want to make sure you a doing business with a reputable company. Ask the wholesaler what other companies they sell to and call these places to verify that they are happy working with the wholesaler.

 

WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK

Whether you’re shopping at a trade show, from a suggestion, or online, it can be difficult to know which line to choose. Don’t be afraid to ask your wholesalers questions. They have an outside perspective that can be of great service to you. You’ll also find out the level of customer service they offer, which is another important consideration in choosing who to buy from. A great place to start is asking the following questions.

 

*Will this appeal to my customers?

This is a question you need to ask yourself. You know your market better than anyone. Every business is unique and what works for one store, may not work for yours.  Does it fit in with the theme of your store? Is it relevant to your location? You don’t want to order coastal jewelry if you’re in the desert. If it looks like a fit, proceed to the next question.

 

*Can I have a sample?

Ask the wholesaler for a sample. This is your sample, so use it to it’s full potential. Post a picture of your sample on your Facebook page and ask for feedback! Taking advantage of social media is a smart and easy way to connect with your customers. Listening to your customers is a great way to learn what they want. Another way to utilize your sample is by wearing it. Wearing a jewelry sample is a wonderful way to advertise. If your customers see the jewelry on someone and they like it, they are more likely to buy it for themselves.

 

*Does the price point work for my market?

Ask the wholesaler what the suggested retail price is. The businesses you buy from should know what price point other stores are having success with. Then ask your self if that price fits in with the retail price of your current products that are selling well. You could find a product that your customers love but will not buy because of the price point. This is true if the retail price is too low as well as too high. Know the mark up that you need in order to be profitable, and ask wholesalers if their cost can meet your needs.

 

*Does the quality match my business?

Price point and quality should go hand in hand. If your customers only want to spend five dollars on a necklace, the expected quality isn’t as high. If you only sell made in America items, there is an expectation of higher quality. Wearing that sample you asked for is a great way to test the quality.

 

*Does the wholesaler offer a guarantee?

Regardless if you are confident a product will work for you, or if you are still unsure after asking your questions, always ask wholesalers if they offer a guarantee. The only thing certain about retail, is it’s unpredictable. Finding out if a business stands behind their product is a good way to find out their level of confidence in the line.

 

TAKE ACTION

All the shopping and question-asking is useless if you do not take action. You can only make money on what you have for sale. If you’re not offering a product, you could be missing out on sales.

 

If you’re too busy to find time to put an order together, let your wholesaler help you. Most companies have pre-packaged orders of their top sellers for your convenience. Go ahead, make a decision, and place an order! Share your wholesale jewelry shopping experiences in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatives to Scrimshaw Jewelry

What is “scrimshaw?"

Scrimshaw refers to a style of art or jewelry making in which artists carve and engrave designs into bone or ivory. Typically the designs are done on whale teeth/bones, walrus tusks, or elephant tusks. The art dates back about 200 years to the whaling days in which sailors would carve designs on whale teeth while out at sea.

Scrimshaw is an iffy business and there are a lot of rules and regulations that go into the sale and creation of scrimshaw.

Scrimshaw jewelry, carved in ivory

Scrimshaw jewelry, carved in ivory

  • Importing, or any trade or sale of elephant ivory is illegal and banned across the entire globe
  • Elephant ivory acquired before 1989 is the only elephant ivory that can be sold legally or turned into scrimshaw
  • Walrus or Whale ivory dated pre-1973 is also legal to be created or sold as scrimshaw due to the fact that the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed that year
  • Ivory dated back to ancient times, for example: Mammoth tusks found in the earth are completely unrestricted for sale

Most artists these days that work with scrimshaw either have legal means of getting ivory or bone to work with, have a supply of ivory or whale teeth dating back to long ago, or most commonly scrimshanders collect whale teeth or tusks from estate sales, auctions or antique dealers.

What are the alternatives to scrimshaw?

Scrimshaw is a very unique and specialized form of art, and although it has some significance in history, it is an outdated and controversial topic today. There is clearly still a market for it however, which means that selling an alternative to the style of scrimshaw jewelry has profitability.

Eventually materials to create “traditional” scrimshaw will run out. It’s inevitable that the already legal ivory, tusks, and teeth will be used up and then there won’t be any options other than alternative materials.

Alternatives to scrimshaw can be resin, ceramic, or porcelain pieces that can have the same style and design that traditional scrimshaw pieces have but only on something that was not at one point part of a living animal. These ceramic and porcelain pieces of jewelry have the same look and texture as the bone or ivory and can be carved or etched in the same way.

These materials not only have the same look, but they are easier to acquire and not to mention much cheaper.

Why go to an alternative?

The main reason to consider an alternative to scrimshaw jewelry is PRICE! Ivory, tusks, teeth, etc. are all expensive and difficult to require and it is almost a task in itself to find and purchase these in order to create their art. With porcelain or ceramic, you can get a reliable product in a much easier and legal way that has almost the exact same appearance but at a much cheaper cost.

Suppliers of scrimshaw jewelry, and/or material to create scrimshaw are fading away. Get a sure, reliable supplier of an alternative material and that can make the logistics of your business simpler. This will also allow you to focus on other parts of your organization such as marketing, building your customer base, or increasing revenue.

If you are a retailer who sells scrimshaw, or have a scrimshaw jewelry line, then you probably have a small niche market base that has an interest in that style of art. Common sense allows us to infer that anyone with a strong fondness of animals, or animal activists will never purchase these products and in fact would suggest that the art be banned.

If retailers that are selling scrimshaw jewelry lines adopted an alternative, then their target market could broaden greatly, allowing them to increase their buyers and bring in new types of customers. If you eliminated the morality involved in purchasing scrimshaw art, and used an alternative that is not an animal by-product, then you could appeal to a larger scope of the population while still keeping the original customer base. That could prove to be far more profitable.

Scrimshaw is a valid art form, and is still recognized as a valuable style of jewelry, however, it is beginning to be more difficult to get the ivory or bones that were traditionally used to create it. There are alternatives that can be used in place of animal tusks and teeth, and not to mention these alternatives are more earth friendly and can appeal to a wider range of people.

If you continue to sell scrimshaw styled jewelry as a retailer, consider using a porcelain or ceramic alternative that is more easily attainable, cheaper, and can still be hand crafted with the unique designs that embody the art of scrimshaw.

 

 

National Park Jewelry – The Great Controversy

By Tianna Heinig

There is a great controversy about whether national park jewelry should be sold in national park bookstores. National parks are very particular about what is sold in their bookstores, and rightfully so. National parks are our countries most sacred places, and so the bookstores should be representative of these wondrous places.

Capital Reef National Park, Visitor Center Gift Shop

Capital Reef National Park, Visitor Center Gift Shop

While national parks are meant to preserve our past, the world and technology in and around them is changing fast. So how do you blend the history with the ever-changing present? Where do you draw the line? Let’s take a look at some key aspects of the national park jewelry controversy so you can decide for yourself if jewelry should be allowed in our national parks.

 

Why are people against national park jewelry?

National park bookstores are very different from other stores in that they are meant to be representative of the national park they are in. At first thought it doesn’t seem that jewelry is representative of any park, unless maybe the park has a cultural history of native people that handcrafted jewelry. Jewelry can have a very negative connotation amongst people that decide what products are allowed in a national park bookstore. It’s often thought of as irrelevant to the park and as more of a trinket than anything else.

 

Requirements of national park bookstore products

All national park bookstores have very strict guidelines as to what can be sold there to ensure the products are representative of the park. Here are some of the major requirements for national park bookstore products.

  • All of the treasures found in a national park bookstore must be of the highest quality. After all, our national parks have been chosen as the highest quality land in our country. The treasures chosen to commemorate a visitor’s experience should be of that caliber, too.
  • All items must pertain to the national park they are in. On a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you surely will not find any products pertaining to Alaska or the desert.
  • Products should enhance the visitors experience by providing additional appreciation for the park. Interpretive and educational information is often a requirement for products. It makes sense that learning new things about the park you’re in will help you to remember and appreciate the park.

 

The definition of jewelry:

The definition of jewelry is a personal ornament or decorative object that is worn on your body or clothing. This seems descriptive of the pins and patches that you find at every national park! National Parks have been selling pins and patches for decades. Is it possible they have been selling jewelry all along without realizing it?

 

The national park jewelry that SHOULD be allowed

National parks are right to hold their vendors to high standards.  Most visitors find it admirable that the parks work so hard to preserve our history and only sell pertinent and quality items in their bookstores. The truth is, there is jewelry available that actually meets national parks’ very strict guidelines. We can see this in the millions of lapel pins that are sold by national parks every day. These pins are high quality. They are extremely pertinent to the parks since they are typically a picture of a landscape from the park itself. Why then, can’t a similar souvenir be on a pendant or bracelet? It’s basically the same item worn in a different place on your body. Regardless, how you wear your souvenir, it’s a memento of your special visit to an amazing national park.

 

The national park jewelry that should NOT be allowed

Obviously, typical generic jewelry does not pertain to any national park. If it doesn’t meet the guidelines, it doesn’t make its way to the bookstores. Additionally, America’s national parks are not made in China, so the products sold in the national parks shouldn’t be made in China either.  One of the ideals behind the guidelines set in place is to provide a souvenir or memento of your visit to the park. Wherever we travel, we want a souvenir that is actually from the place we are visiting. You wouldn’t buy a made in America souvenir while visiting a foreign country either.

 

What happens when national parks do sell jewelry?

There are a lot of national park bookstores selling jewelry. Because the jewelry they sell has passed the test and met all guidelines, it fits in perfectly with the beautiful selection of items available. The sales are great and for many years now, national park bookstores continue to reorder their national park jewelry. Nowadays, you can buy stuffed animals in national park bookstores.  However, these stuffed toys are high quality replicas of animals that are found in the park and come with educational information about the animals. You get to decide how you remember your visit to a national park. Perhaps you want a t-shirt, a stuffed animal, a book, a lapel pin, or a pendant!

 

National park jewelry is a wonderful product to assist in raising funds for our national parks as long it meets the strict guidelines set in place by the parks. On your next visit to a national park, see if you can find any national park jewelry in the bookstore. Please share your stories with us in the comments below!

 

 

The park retailer's guide to selling wholesale wildlife jewelry

National and state park retailers have a unique business. National parks, state parks and wilderness areas are some of our nation’s most treasured resources. Their audience is largely captive once inside our park borders, and our retail stores satisfy not only the need for the practical, but the experiential and gift shopping our guests want to do.

Wichita Mountains NWR Visitor Center

Wichita Mountains NWR Visitor Center

Jewelry is a challenging concept for some park retailers. Sourcing quality wholesale wildlife jewelry is another challenge for park retailers. Those parks that have a third party organization that operates their gift shops sometimes feel at odds with their park rangers over the philosophy of offering jewelry to guests. But wildlife jewelry is a perfect national park souvenir because of its focus on a native animal, it’s compact size (perfect for slipping into a pack) and it’s price point. 

Before you decide on your ideal product mix, you have to ask yourself a few important questions:

Who are your customers? Developing a customer persona – a demographic sketch of your typical customers – involves observation, query and summary. You can do this through exit surveys (a bookmark with a web link, or a map or guide with a survey on the back), intercept surveys (done in your store on a busy day; this is a great way to occupy people who might be waiting in a line!)

Why do people come to your park? What are your park legends? Native animals? The story of your park is completely unique! While we have epic big parks (Yellowstone, Zion and Bryce come to mind) we also have pretty epic state parks (including Tahquemenon Falls in northern Michigan, for example). Your park has beauty, legend and native animal population that draw visitors to hike, explore and immerse themselves in.

What are the expectations of your customers when they walk in the store?

This seems obvious, but you should be selecting wholesale wildlife jewelry based on the animals native to your area. Don’t try to sell penguins in the Everglades. Many of the animals in parks are elusive or legendary, and selling products with their likeness that includes information about their habitat is very appealing to customers. If you didn’t manage to sneak a glimpse of the gray wolf in Yellowstone, you might like to take a bit of the wolf’s story home with you. You’ll also want to have as many animals represented as possible, as your guests may want to collect many animals from your park as a reminder of what they experienced (or found elusive.) 

What kind of store do you have?

Do you have a camp store?  Or an art gallery? The way you display wildlife jewelry in your park store makes a big difference. Because jewelry is small, it appeals to those who tromp in your camp store looking for supplies, because they can slip it into their pack and head out. Park stores that are focused on helping guests experience the beauty and majesty of their parks will find a different display more effective for selling wildlife jewelry than those that are selling maps and dried snacks to tired or excited hikers.

How long do people spend in your park store?

You can observe this by assigning one of your staff to watch guests during a busy time at your store. The amount of time that they spend in your store will help you determine the best product placement for a small gift item like wildlife jewelry (it will be different based upon your guest and your park.)  By extension, where the traffic patterns are in your store are key as well. You can take a video of your store, speed it up and review the traffic patterns during a particular time of day, to determine where you should best position jewelry items.

The best parks know how much time (down to the minute) the average guest spends in their store, where their traffic is, and what products sell the best, right down to floor space and product positioning. They’re seasoned retailers who happen to manage a national park store. Smaller retailers and park advocacy groups can learn from these big players the best path to retail success

 

Selling wholesale ornaments throughout the year

Why should you sell wholesale ornaments year round? A first-person story explains it well:

I can remember so many times as a kid being in gift shops at different places begging my mom to let me get something. One specific gift shop I remember vividly was at Yellowstone national park, a huge gift shop with a rustic and forest like atmosphere full of different gifts commemorating the famous park.

I have a terrible time deciding on things (especially as a kid). I can’t decide what I want for dinner, even if I haven’t eaten all day. So, here I am in this gigantic gift shop at Yellowstone and I can’t decide on anything.  I know I want something that will last forever, not be susceptible to destruction, and mainly, something that will remind me of the awesome trip to Yellowstone every time I see it.

A creative retail display for ornaments can take many shapes!

A creative retail display for ornaments can take many shapes!

That’s when my grandma chimed in with the idea to get an ornament.

My family was always big on ornaments. My grandma who worked at a department store in the gift section gives each grandkid one special ornament, every year for Christmas. My mom loves decorating our tree and has a plethora of ornaments that vary in design and meaning.

I ended up getting an ornament of a famed Yellowstone grizzly bear, a powerful, large and beautiful creature, which would hang on my Christmas tree for years to come. Each year that I help my mom decorate our tree, when that bear is next to be put up, I hang it on a branch of the tree,  and my mind immediately flashes back to when we went on that trip to Yellowstone.  All of the memories that went along with it are fresh in my mind.

What a perfect gift to commemorate a trip, last forever, and be used forever.

And…

What a perfect item to keep on display for purchase in your stores year round.

An ornament is a decoration that commemorates or embodies something important to its possessor. It is meant to remind you of something that is important to you, whether that is your favorite sports franchise, favorite animal, or that trip to Disney World when you were 10 years old.  People that are visiting your gift shop or retail store aren’t getting an ornament because Christmas is two months away; they are getting an ornament to represent the memory of whatever the ornament is or where it is from.

Ornaments aren’t just for trees.

Although when we hear the term ornament it coincides with the thought of Christmas and trees. But, there are other uses for ornaments, particularly those ornaments that are not Christmas related. Sure, the ornaments of Santa or Rudolph is probably only meant for the Christmas tree, or Christmas time. But, the ornaments of a football or that grizzly bear can be hung up in your car, displayed on your desk at work, or even dangling from a mobile above your baby’s crib.

The idea here is that ornaments aren’t Christmas specific, they are decorations and they can be displayed or used in other ways, which is another reason why retailers purchase wholesale ornaments year round.

Year round ornament sales has proven success.

The best example of Christmas items being sold year round is Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, an “all year, all Christmas stuff” store located in Frankenmuth, MI. Bronner’s has been in business since 1945. That means that this company, which bases all profits off of Christmas decorations, ornaments, lights, trees, etc. has successfully operated for over 50 years in a market that people believe is seasonal. Not only does Bronner’s have a retail site, but they also sell wholesale ornaments and other decorations.

People don’t forget about Christmas.

Christmas is important to a lot of people. People are always buying things for the holidays , or thinking of gifts for family and friends. When someone goes to a national park, or an attraction, or any new place, ornaments are a great souvenir for people to buy as gifts, or just have for their personal use and memory. Not to mention by keeping ornaments on your shelves year round you can lower wholesale ornament prices from manufacturers.

Don’t restrict your ornament displays to being sold only leading up to the holiday season . Ornaments have different uses, they are meant to epitomize the memory of a place, and they have proven to have success being sold year round.  Purchase wholesale ornaments year-round, you can increase profit, save on wholesale pricing, and provide customers a memento that can last a lifetime.

4Ps of Marketing: Promotion

Promotion:

4Ps of  Marketing for Gift and Souvenir Retailers

Connecting with the customer: using events, demonstrations, expert seminars to create unique retail experiences:

 

Souvenir shops are in a unique position. They are not the main attraction in any vacation, but they play a starring role in providing guests and customers a chance to take home a little bit of their trip with them. They also serve a very key role as the retailer of necessity; when it comes to feeding, caring and satisfying customer needs.

 

Souvenir shops can take advantage of these factors in a few ways: 1) Provide them with local, gourmet or unique variations of their favorite necessities and 2) craft experiences that match with the location to keep them shopping longer.

 

Let’s break this down. If your souvenir retail store sells a mix of high, medium and low price point products, and some of them are sundries, try for a mix of local, made in the USA or specialty products. Examples include locally made portable snacks, made in USA small gift items that are easy to transport on the plane home, and unusual versions of common souvenirs. You might, for instance, have a line of Christmas tree ornaments made from locally-harvested trees, or a hand-crafted line of salted caramel and nut snacks, or even a made in the USA wildlife pendant featuring animals in the store’s region.

 

Going for unique, unusual and useful is a good way to capture visitor dollars in your store.

 

Going beyond the take-home souvenir; how to craft guest and customer experiences for greater retail sales

 

People come to vacation in your area because of the natural experiences. From the extraordinary landscape, to the beach/water/mountain nearby or even the monument or historical site, the primary focus may not be shopping. So how do you weave that in? Create events and experiences!

 

On busy days in your retail location (or not-so-busy days), develop a series of small events that you can schedule, promote and attract visitors. Invite a local birding expert to do a talk about local birds that are out and about during that time period. Promote the event through visitor centers, outside signage (sandwich boards, banners and other public displays) to capture visitors as they come and go within your community during their stay. Hotels are also a great place that your guests find out about happenings, and while a hotel might not want to promote every retail shop, the local bird watching talk from 10-11 on Saturdays is an event they’re happy to share with their visiting guests.

 

Host useful product demonstrations

This might be gourmet meal prep and cooking for backpackers or even a cook-off contest using prepackaged meals and snacks that help the backpackers and day trippers see the usefulness of the items you sell in your store.

 

Hold a photography competition

Have guests submit photos to your social media channels and tag your organization. Offer a freebie or a bounce back coupon (if your retail location serves those who come a long way, send a small token such as a sticker set or a freebie, if they’re not able to purchase something as they’ve left the area.)

 

A regular series of events built around the interests of your audience will help them come to your location to spend more time – and hopefully, more money – than they typically would.

 

Organize your store’s décor and experience around customer personas.

Smart retailers like Starbucks built their franchises around control of the experience, from the lighting to the flooring to wall colors and décor. As a retailer, you know these items make a difference. Crafting ways they can stay longer involves creating inviting space where they can do that, or experiences that they want to stay for. A local retailer might offer customers a sample of gourmet hot chocolate (enjoyed while walking around) or a treat. Most customers will stick around for the consuming of the treat, thus spending more time in your store. This also creates marketing reciprocity – the feeling that you’ve given me something, I should buy something (it doesn’t always work, but it does elicit that action in many people!)

 

If you have a lot of day visitors to your area, provide a spot where they can sit to consider the maps and plan their day’s agenda. Consider staffing it with a member of your team who can answer questions; this would keep customers in your store longer. Positioning this spot next to guide books and accessories for their day’s adventure will put them right in front of the product that they might need.

4Ps of Retail Marketing: Place

Understanding the role place plays in marketing:

Location, location, location; how retail product grouping, display and positioning can significantly impact sales.

Place in the 4Ps of marketing is primarily aimed at retailing and distribution networks, but we can also look to a very granular level and talk retail store positioning as well. Once you have products in your store, how do you maximize their positioning for optimum sales?

4Ps of Marketing for Gift and Souvenir Retailers

 

Group products by customer persona

Retailers often position products such as pendants, jewelry and small gift items together. But it may be better to group items in a different way, depending upon your customer persona.

 

Your customers may look at ‘gear and sundries’ in a way that combines disparate items – camera storage cards, lithium ion batteries and wool socks might seem a strange mix of products, but for your hiking or sightseeing customers, this is a logical grouping of items that makes sense.

 

Position made in the USA items together for higher sales

Many customers, particularly those that are visiting uniquely American sites such as national parks, memorials and historical regions, have their patriotic senses heightened.  Groups of made in USA products do well together, because they are typically sold at higher price points. Positioning made in USA gift products next to made in China gift products can unfairly weight the less expensive product in the customer’s eye. What’s the value of made in USA? Positioning the products together, even if they are not in the same category of product is a smart way to sell more of the made in USA product at the higher price point.

 

Consider retail displays that take advantage of limited space

Many retailers who sell small gift souvenirs group certain items together because of counter, wall and floor space, but don’t consider how, within those spaces, products may do better simply by positioning them in a way that helps each product group sell better.

 

On a wall location, for instance, moving products so that each group of them has a visual point of sale retail header (provided by your manufacturer or wholesaler) can really highlight the products and communicate additional information to the customer, such as how it’s made, where it’s made, how it might be used or worn in alternative ways.  Your manufacturers are a wealth of great information – they work with hundreds of retailers across the country that are like you – and they know what works and what doesn’t. Reach out to your manufacturers for retail displays for walls, small spaces and countertops so that you know the best way to position product for maximum sales.

4P's of Marketing: Price

Understanding the role of price in marketing:

How to select a retail product group that works for your customer group is always a challenge for retailers. Price point makes a difference – a day hiker may have a limited budget, but a week-long guest visiting with a 7-day park pass may be more likely to spend a little over a few days, or cap their visit to the area with a single trip to your retail store. Souvenir stores have unique challenges and opportunities. Most people come in looking for a memento of their experiences, and they are more likely to spend on something they don’t need. Impulse purchases are higher for souvenir shops than traditional retailers.

Pricing is more science than art, as most retailers know. Product and price mix is more important for store sales as a whole

Pricing is more science than art, as most retailers know. Product and price mix is more important for store sales as a whole


The product mix at a typical souvenir store looks like this:


·      High-end souvenirs

·      Mid-range souvenirs

·      Sundries

·      Trinket souvenirs



High-end souvenirs are centered around useful and experiential gifts. This might be a useful item like hiking or camping gear or a piece of equipment like binoculars or a camera.


Guides, hiking sticks, apparel, hats and plush all fit into the mid-range souvenir category.  Mid-range is not necessarily a price point, but a customer value perception. What the customers think about the relative value of the item depends on where they are and how closely they align with the item’s interpretive value.


Sundries such as snacks, backpacking meals, medical and first aid supplies are always bigger sellers for souvenir shops. Visitors to an area rarely fuel themselves with everything they need, and impulse purchases on sundries, even pricier ones like camera storage cards, are easy for them to make. Gaining margin here involves selecting more exclusive products – gourmet snacks and branded electronic gear versus generic trail mix. Locally made products do well in sundries sections because they cross over between a necessary item and a luxury splurge, and often have higher margins for retailers.


Trinket souvenirs are the easiest sell of all, appealing across a wide range of customers and hitting a sweet spot of “let’s just get it!” spur-of-the-moment price point. Items that are ‘personalized’ with names are always great selling lines at almost every location. Trinket souvenirs run the gamut from useful-and-fun to just plain fun.


Price depends largely on the value that the customer places on the item. On a rainy day, umbrellas could be sold at a premium, whereas they won’t move an inch off the display rack on a sunny summer day. Retailers understand this and position products and move displays to take advantage of weather, season and popularity. But there are a few things that you may not already know about selling smaller items like pendants or jewelry. These items often do well in with other product groupings such as a wildlife books and jewelry or an apparel line or even by Made in the USA status. There, a even a higher price point item will not be noticeable to the customer, as they compare the relative cost of items in the same area.


What are the 4Ps of Marketing?

Every marketing student learns about the 4 Principles of Marketing, known as the 4Ps of marketing early on in their academic career. These core elements of marketing are something every business should understand. In this guide, we’ll outline the 4Ps of marketing and we’ll apply real-world proven ideas that retailers of souvenirs can put into play. Your business, like many others, is unique. Your customers are often in your store for just a short time. They’re looking to capture their experience. You can offer them more than a memento – through the right mix of marketing activities, price and product blend. Let’s dive right into the 4Ps:

Your product mix will vary by the type of attractions you are near, who your typical customers are, and how they’re looking to remember their experience

Your product mix will vary by the type of attractions you are near, who your typical customers are, and how they’re looking to remember their experience

 

Product:

Crafting the ideal product mix based on your customer groups is the essence of the product P of marketing. To really understand your customer, we recommend asking them questions. For retailers, intercept surveys are ideal, as they capture customers right where they are. An excellent idea to capture guests for a short intercept survey is to offer a treat, such as cookies, while they answer a short intercept survey.  Or offer a point-of-purchase coupon to those waiting in line if they participate.

 

Surveying customers is designed to craft a biographical sketch of your ideal customer, called a persona. This persona sketch helps you keep your customer in mind whenever you consider any of the 4Ps. What would Tom Tourist want in our store, or Hillary Hiker? You’ll likely have several personas that drive your retail store sales.

 

You can combine both the intercept survey (which should be short) and offer an opportunity to connect on a deeper level: “this survey today in our store is just four short questions, but we’ll send a followup coupon or freebie if we can get your e-mail address and send you a longer one to complete at home.”

 

Once you understand your customer’s likes, motivations, dislikes, and desires, you can begin to tweak your product mix. Tom Tourist, visiting a national park retail store may have come for wool socks and energy bars, but he might also be tempted with a small gift item that he can collect at the parks he visits, such as a pendant, or lanyard he can attach to his pack. Hillary Hiker probably came in for a lined shell jacket, as the temperature at altitude dropped by an unexpected 20 degrees, but she picks up a birding guide to take with her on her journey and a made-in-the-USA gift item for her brother back home. Understanding what drives each audience helps with a more targeted selection of gift and consumable items.

Learn more by downloading the complete guide to the 4Ps of Marketing for Retailers