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!