Seaside Retailer - November/December 2022

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seaside retailer B E A CH | CO ASTAL | NAUTICAL



Connections CONFERENCE


+ Inside: 30 Keep kids happy with cool new stuff 40 Set up your store for maximum sales 50 Drinkware customers are thirsty for




Cu ES st I th om ST es er IB e sw L gr o E ab n IM ba ’t b P bl e U e ab LS ite le E m to B s, r U p. es Y 60 is S t !

Michael Callahan’s dreams have come true with Lazy Gator Gifts’ sprawling, southern retail experience in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.



In Every Issue 6 10 14 16

EDITOR’S NOTE Adopting the Florida mindset.


EVENTS CALENDAR Make plans to attend these future industry events.

90 96 98 100 104

EVENTS COVERAGE Coverage from past and upcoming industry shows.

RETAIL NEWS Retailers and wholesalers respond to Ian. TAKING STOCK ‘Spruce’ up those holiday displays. CUSTOMERS COUNT Attitude makes all the difference.

BEACH READS Beachy book ideas for your seaside store.


RETAILER REFLECTIONS Handle inventory like a pro with these tips. PRODUCT SHOWCASE Fresh merchandise ideas for your seaside store. AD INDEX Easily locate an advertiser’s ad and website.


Check out the Coastal Connection to learn how kid-centric seaside stores draw in children.

Features Cover Story: Brining his vision to life...................................18 Lazy Gator Gifts is a dream come true for Michael Callahan.

Style Trend: Drinkware that delights.................................. 50 These drinkware styles infuse personality with function.

Product Trend: Connecting with kids.................................30 Capture more sales from the littlest customers.

Product Focus: Impulsive forces..........................................60 Ring in extra sales with impulse buy ideas that sell.

Presentation: Space planning for success...........................40 Maximize selling opportunities in your store’s set-up.

Starfish Award: Cool as a Moose........................................ 106 Maine stores’ “round-up” fundraisers support LGBTQ causes.




EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE: Coastal Connections Conference Preview Guide! Pages 58-59



The spirit I’ve witnessed from those affected by the hurricane is one of strength, hope and perseverance.

Karen Carr Publisher & Creative Director 330-591-2575

Adopting the Florida mindset It is hard to even imagine what the residents and business owners of Southwest Florida have

been through over the last month. Words can’t even begin to describe the loss and devastation that many have experienced. Some of our readers in the affected areas were fortunate to have sustained only minor damage to their stores, while others have a long road ahead to make repairs and rebuild. It would be easy during these especially difficult times to want to give up, but the spirit I’ve witnessed from those impacted by the hurricane is one of strength, hope and perseverance. There is no question in my mind that Southwest Florida is going to come back bigger and better than ever before. The determination of the people who have experienced unthinkable tragedy is truly remarkable. Just as remarkable, in my opinion, are the number of organizations that have stepped up to help. People’s generosity has been nothing short of incredible, and coastal retailers and wholesalers are no exception. You can read more about many of their extraordinary efforts on page 12. From collection drives, to special product launches and fundraisers, the outpouring of support is greater than anything I’ve ever seen. I knew that retailers and wholesalers cared about people because they are in the business of making people happy about their products or shopping experience. What I didn’t know is how quickly they would get organized and start helping in any way they could. So many companies and their people have shown generosity in the way they are helping hurricane affected areas. I am truly blown away by their heroism. If there is any reason to feel hopeful and optimistic about the future, it is seeing the volunteers provide relief to hurricane victims and the joy and gratitude they bring to the people they are helping. In his Customer’s Count column in this issue, Tom Borg talks about how “Attitude Makes a Difference.” He’s right. And the attitude I’ve seen from the people in Florida is something everyone can adopt in their lives: the ‘can do’ attitude, the gratitude for the help they are receiving, the strength to get through this hardship, the perseverance to keep going. It is a testament to the courage and determination of the people of Florida. As you read this issue, I hope you come away with many great ideas for your seaside store. But I also hope you’ll take some time to appreciate what you have and think about all you have to be grateful for. We are entering that time of year when we reflect on our blessings and embrace the giving spirit. Take an example from our Florida retail and wholesale community this season and spread some cheer for those who are in need in your communities.

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Kristin Ely Executive Editor & Conference Director 858-684-7744 Jamie Winebrenner Sales Manager 330-269-5875 Katie Turner Sales Manager 219-206-1140 Kelly Rosaaen Circulation Manager Kristen Hampshire Senior Editor Tom Borg Columnist Natalie Tan Columnist Cathy Donovan Wagner Columnist Brooke Bilyj Contributing Editor Mary Elizabeth Williams-Villano Contributing Editor Jeanne Larsen Administrative Assistant Christine Welman Website Development Bob Thompson Business Advisor Seaside Retailer is published six times a year by: Breakwall Publishing LLC 3593 Medina Rd. #117 Medina, OH 44256 800-764-5302 Subscriptions and address changes: Seaside Retailer magazine P.O. Box 7216 St. Paul, MN 55107-7216 Entire contents copyright 2022 Breakwall Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.


MAKING WAVES q Tabby Shore voted best gift shop and boutique in Lowcountry

The Tabby Shore Gift Boutique in Beaufort, South Carolina, took home two first-place awards in Lowcountry’s Best Awards for Best Boutique and Best Gift Shop from The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet. Tabby Shore carries wares from more than 60 artists, makers and creatives. Beyond offering locals and visitors a selection of special gifts, owners Jessica and Kyle Mangano and associates are Beaufort ambassadors. “We emphasize the importance of building relationships with everyone in our community and visitors, and we want them to see how special of a place Beaufort is,” Jessica Mangano says. Of the awards, Mangano adds, “It’s moments like these that are affirmation that we are doing something right and making an impact on the community.”

Happy Flamingo gains more space to share the coastal love

“Sharing happiness one gift at a time,” is the motto at Happy Flamingo Gift Shop in St. Petersburg, Florida. Now the business can spread even more joy with an expanded new location that’s highly accessible with foot traffic and stocked with more seasonal decor, coastal gifts, jewelry and artisan wares. The shop has doubled its original size. Comfy chairs are well-received by regulars and newcomers. “This is a welcoming place for anyone and everyone to come and sit down in the store — you don’t have to be a shopper,” owner Sandi Roper says. With the added space, Roper plans to expand local artists’ offerings. 10 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022

Coastal Connections Conference postpones event to January due to Hurricane Ian The Coastal Connections Conference has postponed the inaugural event due to Hurricane Ian. The decision was made on Sept. 26, in advance of Hurricane Ian making landfall in Florida. “Our team was closely monitoring the developments of Hurricane Ian. As we looked at the potential impacts of the storm, we decided to postpone the Coastal Connections Conference, originally scheduled for Oct. 3-5,” says Kristin Ely, Coastal Connections Conference director. “The safety Learn more about the Coastal of our attendees, speakers and vendors was Connections Conference, Jan 22-24 2023, in Orlando, on pages 58-59. our priority, and we felt this was the best decision given the circumstances.” Event organizers have worked with the Margaritaville Resort Orlando to reschedule the event based on the resort’s availability. The new conference dates are Sunday, Jan. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Anyone who has already registered for the conference will automatically have their registration transferred to the new dates. New registrations are also being accepted at www.coastal Early bird rates are available through Dec. 31. Modifications to the conference schedule are posted to the Coastal Connections Conference website. The conference will now start at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, with opening remarks followed by a keynote session with RetailMavens Founder Cathy Donovan Wagner on the topic, “Fastest Path to Cash And Calm — Increase Cash Flow Now.” “We appreciate everyone’s understanding as we worked through a difficult situation, and we look forward to seeing everyone in January,” Ely says. In addition, the Coastal Connections Conference will be donating a portion of its proceeds to The American Red Cross for Hurricane Ian relief efforts. “We know this has been a difficult road for many residents and retail stores in Southwest Florida, and we wanted to do our part to help,” Ely acknowledges. “We greatly appreciate the many Florida retailers affected by the hurricane who have continued to support the Coastal Connections Conference.”

Salty Raven opens Cannon Beach store

Salty Raven has opened a new store in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The Oregon-based nature-inspired brand has been selling its line of graphic tees, hand sewn accessories, glasses and gifts as a wholesale brand before opening its flagship store in Tillamook over Labor Day weekend in 2021. The second retail location in Cannon Beach was a result of owner Seasons Kaz Sparks wanting her offerings available to shoppers in the popular seaside town. The location in Cannon Beach at 140 S. Hemlock St. is a main downtown area that Sparks describes as more art centric than touristy. The store officially opened Aug. 19. The storefront in Cannon Beach has a similar look to the Tillamook flagship store “so people have a cohesive brand experience of feeling like they are in an ocean forest environment since all my artwork is focused on those two elements.” Merchandise throughout the 1,800-square-foot store consists of Sparks’ designs and a small space in the back of the store with some food goods made by women and Oregon makers. Sparks describes the section as offering pantry-type items that make for great gift basket additions when paired with Salty Raven’s glassware.


After the devastation Hurricane Ian left on Southwest Florida when it made landfall on Sept. 28, a large number of companies from the coastal retail and wholesale community have stepped up to help hurricane victims. Apparel company Saltwater Hippie collected monetary and supply donations in partnership with Cajun Navy and the American Red Cross. It also hosted a benefit concert at Saltwater Hippie’s new music hall in Madeira Beach, Florida, in honor of all the donations collected. “While we have been blessed to have survived this catastrophic storm, others have not been so lucky. Let’s do our part, as a Saltwater Hippie Family, to assist our neighbors in need,” an Instagram post stated. Other apparel companies are also doing their part. Salt Life created a T-shirt, The Florida Proud Hurricane Relief Pocket Tee, to help fund relief efforts through the American Red Cross. Eighteen dollars from each shirt sold goes directly to Hurricane Ian relief efforts in Florida. The shirt is available online and will also be available in its Florida retail locations. The brand has also set up a microsite to field donations from customers and is sending product to Salt Life team members on the ground in Florida to distribute thousands of items to those in need. Apparel brand Mang delivered supplies and donations consisting of water, Gatorade, chain saws and generators, pet food and toiletries. In partnership with Captains For Clean Water, West Palm Beach Fishing Club and other organizations, the company reports it was able to make a huge impact in the Fort Myers area. “The devastation was horrific; absolutely tragic, but the community of people that have come together in response to this tragedy 12 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022

shows true resilience and teamwork,” Mang reported. One-hundred percent of the profits from Puppie Love’s Hurricane Pup Tee will be donated to Gulf Coast Humane Society in Fort Myers, which was damaged during the hurricane and required the relocation of the shelter’s animals. A fundraiser with merchandise featuring the words, “Sunshine State Stronger” accompanying a strong flamingo graphic was Sunshine State Goods & Apparel’s creation. One-hundred percent of proceeds from the tees, tanks, hoodies and mugs benefit The American Red Cross for Hurricane Ian relief. Low Tides Ocean is donating 100% of the profits from its Do Good Look Good and Jersey Shore UPF 50 Reprieve shirts to Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation through Dec. 1. All profits from The Beach and Back’s Captiva Collection is being donated to the Florida Disaster Fund, and Pearls and Camo Girl is donating 25% of its profits from its Florida Strong, Fort Myers Strong and Naples Strong sweaters to hurricane relief efforts. And it isn’t just apparel companies stepping up to help. Tervis is donating proceeds from its Together We Shine tumblers and water bottles to Volunteer Florida’s Disaster Fund for Hurricane Ian Relief. Among the many retailers organizing efforts to help was Naples Outfitters. The store put a call out on Instagram to organize meal distribution and several volunteers showed up to pack and deliver meals. Still many other retailers and wholesalers are helping the victims of Hurricane Ian. Seaside Retailer will report on as many as possible, and you can email Kristin Ely at kristin@ with your stories.


Coastal retailers and wholesalers help Ian victims



‘Spruce’ up the holidays

Holiday elements placed throughout a section of the same theme will present a cohesive display and reinforce a message of gift giving.


he holidays are the time of the year when most everyone is looking for a wonderful escape. Retailers everywhere are expecting this season to provide much-needed sales. From windows to feature displays, your setup must grab customers’ attention and sell merchandise. Holiday elements placed throughout a section of the same theme will present a cohesive display and reinforce a message of gift giving. This can be as simple as wrapping a small box and using the same ribbons as the tree trimmings. HOLIDAY WINDOW DISPLAY TIPS

Retail consultant Natalie Tan helps businesses develop unique blueprints to drive sales. Contact her at:


• If you find that every store in your block has trees displayed in their windows, opt for an alternative. Consider attention-grabbing fabric banners. Choose a festive theme and set them on two dowels. • Use nesting tables or risers in varying heights. Make risers from wood sheets easily bought at a hardware store. Paint risers in your store’s theme colors or neutral so you can reuse them. • When using risers instead of a nesting table set, place the tallest riser at the back with midsized ones flanking it. Shorter risers go in front. • Add festive elements like ribbon

banding or a bow to remind customers of the gift giving season. • Place elements like holly sprigs or a Christmas ball next to the merchandise to support a holiday theme. • To change the display midway, change the fabric banners or cover wooden risers with holiday wrapping paper. TREE TRIMMING TIPS

• Start with lighting and set aside 80 to 100 lights per foot of the tree. (Yes, that much in order to stand out!) • Layer the tree by inserting other greenery. Dollar store finds like bunches of holly leaves with berries make a great layering look. • Install fabric bands around the tree from top to bottom every 8 to 12 inches apart instead of ribbons. Fabric bands of about 8 inches to 12 inches create the best looks. • Tuck fabric widthwise every foot using bendable small tree branches. • Trim trees with at least two to three other elements. (I use at least six elements such as greenery bunches, fabric bands, Christmas balls, holiday florals, skinny branches and of course, the product theme of the section.) • Christmas balls may be grouped into threes and then hung on the tree. This achieves greater visual impact.



Attitude makes all the difference

The mark of a successful gift shop owner or manager is that they realize the biggest room in the world is the ‘room for self-improvement.’

Tom Borg is a retail consultant, speaker and author of “True Small Business Brilliance.” Contact him at: 734-404-5909



eing an owner in any business or organization is not easy. If it were, everybody would be doing it. The fact is, it is not easy running a gift shop, but there are strategies you can employ that can make it easier and certainly more successful. As management guru Peter Drucker once said, “If you’re not in business to make money and have fun, then what the hell are you doing it for?” Whether you are the owner or a manager of your gift shop, you get to experience “the good, the bad and the ugly.” What I mean is there will be good days when everything goes well in your shop. All of your employees show up for work, the sun shines all day long, and you sell more product in one day than any other day that month. Needless to say, your customers are happy and you even receive a few compliments on your business. Life is good! The reality of life is that there will be “bad days” when problems come knocking. Every gift shop owner knows the angst of experiencing the “ugly days.” That’s when all hell breaks loose. Everything that could go wrong does go wrong. For example, two of your employees don’t show up for work, someone breaks an item in your store and blames you, or your electrical power

goes out. I’m sure you have your own examples. These are the days you would gladly sell your “nice little shop” to the first person that would offer you half of what it’s worth. What can you do to get and maintain a positive mindset? First, let’s determine what a positive mindset is. Some phrases that can help are: • Look for the best in each situation you experience • Be realistically optimistic • Look for the solution and not wallowing in the problem • Ask “What went wrong?” rather than, “Who is wrong?” Also,“What can we learn from this?” Is your mindset negative or positive? People with a negative mindset have a system that works very well — to keep their attitudes negative. Even if you possess a positive mindset, it could still use some tweaking or maybe even an overhaul. The mark of a successful gift shop owner or manager is that they realize the biggest room in the world is the “room for self-improvement.” They realize they can always get better, and as they improve so do their employees and their business. What’s your mindset? It’s your choice. Email me for a list of helpful tips that can keep your attitude positive.


“You’re not just going to a jewelry store, a fudge shop, a garden store or a T-shirt shop. It’s all wrapped up into the shopping experience, where we’ve got something for everybody in the family.” — MICHAEL CALLAHAN




Michael Callahan’s dreams have come true with Lazy Gator Gifts’ sprawling, southern retail experience in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. STORY BY BROOKE BILYJ

owner agreed to lease him the building. By blending his construction background with his previous coastal retail experience, Callahan turned the space into a successful gift store that’s just as well known for its wide variety of merchandise as it is for its relaxing front porch and distinctive southern charm.

BUILDING A RETAIL SPACE Callahan first experienced the beaches of the Grand Strand, which stretches along the northern coast of South Carolina, as a college student when he spent the summer working at a relative’s coastal gift shop in North Carolina. “I ended up falling in love with the area and never left the Grand Strand after that,” says Callahan, who was born in Akron, Ohio, and grew up near Chicago. Callahan went on to start his own construction company focused on framing houses. One winter, during a slow construction season, he started helping out at his relative’s coastal store again and ended up working there for 12 years. Realizing that he still had the entrepreneurial itch to start a business, Callahan decided to open his own coastal retail store and began looking for a property. He narrowed his search to Murrells Inlet because of the area’s small-town charm packed with attractions like numerous seafood restaurants, many fishing spots and golf courses. NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022 SEASIDE RETAILER 19



rom the outside, Lazy Gator Gifts looks like a charming Southern home, with expansive wraparound porches decked with colorful rocking chairs that beckon relaxation. On the inside, the former seafood restaurant now serves as a sprawling 12,000-square foot retail space featuring coastal decor, local art, jewelry, kitchenware, toys, T-shirts, seashells, homemade fudge and more. Owner Michael Callahan says the store offers “something for everybody in the family”— whether guests actually come to shop or simply to “sit on the porch and take in the scenery,” he says. That welcoming vibe was exactly what Callahan set out to create when he opened Lazy Gator in April 2006. Callahan had been looking for the perfect location to house his retail vision in Murrells Inlet, a small town south of Myrtle Beach known as the seafood capital of South Carolina. While searching for properties in the area he passed a restaurant that embodied the building he envisioned for his store. “It had the big porches, the Lowcountry design, and the vibe I was looking for — but it was a restaurant,” Callahan says. “I finally reached out to the owner of the building and told him I wanted to open a gift shop. His first comment was, ‘You do realize how large this building is, don’t you?’ He was very skeptical.” But after several meetings to discuss Callahan’s business plan, the


Michael Callahan’s BEST ADVICE for seaside retailers:

“Try something. If it works, perfect. If it doesn’t work, stop doing it as quickly as possible. You have to evolve and grow. You can’t just stay stagnant, so you always have to be trying something new.” The building he ended up leasing for his store sits directly across from the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk, a half-mile-long creek-front restaurant district. The location was ideal for foot traffic, but the building required renovation to turn the former seafood spot into a retail space. Fortunately, Callahan had the construction experience to transform the building himself, with help from his business partner, Dusty Batten. Before tackling renovations, Callahan vis-


ited the site to take pictures of the necessary repairs. When he loaded the images on his computer, he noticed something floating in the pond in front of the building. Zooming in revealed a three-foot gator lurking in the water, which became the quirky namesake of the store. The site consisted of two main buildings connected by a sunken middle section, spanning 16,000 square feet total. Callahan raised the floor in the middle section and added ramps to make the space more accessible to shoppers. Each building contained a separate kitchen, which Callahan turned into warehouse space, leaving 12,000 square feet for retail. In front of each kitchen sat a built-in salad bar, which Callahan repurposed. “Rather than tearing out a bunch of walls, I just expanded the openings and utilized the space that was there,” he says. “On the north side, the salad

The lifelike gator doesn’t fool anyone visiting Lazy Gator with its inviting lowcountry ambiance and porch rockers.


together,” Callahan says. “All the displays were built by us, so it gives the store a unique feel.”


A canoe display houses T-shirts with dedicated spaces for certain brands.

bar became the fudge counter where we prepare all our homemade fudge, and in the southern building, I turned it into display cases for other products.” Callahan and Batten constructed all the store’s displays and have continued to add new shelving through the years. For example, they turned two old canoes into display bins to showcase various seashells. “If we want a certain display, we can just throw something


When laying out the store, Callahan thoughtfully arranged the merchandise into distinct sections to make the large retail space easier to explore. For example, he arranged the rest of the store’s food-related products around the fudge counter. “That’s where we put our souvenir mugs, shot glasses, kitchen linens and coasters, and our gourmet food section is attached to that,” he says. “So, there’s a flow of items you’d expect to be located together.” Walking through the store, guests pass through a garden section, a large expanse of souvenirs, and a kids’ room full of plush and toys. Then, they descend into the middle section of the building, which features the store’s T-shirt collection, with separate areas for brands like Salt Life and Simply Southern. The farthest building houses seashells, pirate and sea life themed items and a large selection of coastal home and wall decor. These

popular sections were strategically placed in the back. “Just like in a grocery store, you’re going to find the milk and meat in the far corner, so people have to walk through the rest of the store,” Callahan says. “We kept the most popular items in the far building to attract people over there.” After shoppers hit the Christmas section in the back of the store, which features coastal ornaments and other holiday gifts, they make their way back toward the checkout in the front. Women’s jewelry and handbags are located near the registers, which allows the staff to monitor more expensive upscale merchandise — like Ronaldo Designer Jewelry, Vera Bradley handbags and Spartina accessories. This wide selection of coastal merchandise in the store supports Callahan’s original goal “to create a shopping environment with a mix of products that entice our customers to travel further to seek us out,” he says. “You’re not just going to a jewelry store, a fudge shop, a garden store or a T-shirt shop. It’s all wrapped up into the shopping experience, where we’ve got something for everybody in the family.”


ADDING LOCAL FLAIR Although most of Lazy Gator’s coastal decor is tucked into the back of the store, Callahan intentionally pulled out the work of local artists to feature in the front so shoppers see it as soon as they enter. Callahan and Batten find many of these handmade items on their own travels along the Grand Strand. “When we’re out and about, we notice certain things we’re attracted to,” Callahan says. “Being in this industry, the last thing we want is a regular souvenir. We’re not just looking for a picture frame, but something unique that actually invokes the memory of where it came from.” They also discover local artists through the craft shows they host on-site. The event is called “Under the Oaks.” Between 50 to 60 vendors set up tents to showcase their handiwork under the oak trees on the front lawn. The shows are held in the spring and fall, though Callahan hopes to increase the frequency in the future to highlight more local makers — some of which end up selling their products at Lazy Gator.


“We get to look at all the vendors’ products, and every once in a while, we’ll say, ‘Wow, now that’s unique,’ and we’ll negotiate with them to figure out whether we can carry it in the store,” Callahan says. “We have gotten a lot of our local artists from our craft shows.” Lazy Gator features several product lines made in the Carolinas like Gullah Gourmet foods and wood pallet art from Map Mom, both based in Charleston. The store also showcases an array of USA-made brands like Dune Jewelry & Co., which makes accessories with sand from beaches around the world, including local sites like Surfside Beach. Products that are local or made in the USA are “the anchor in the field,” Callahan says. “So much of what we buy has to be imported in order to remain competitive, so when we can find an American made company that we can highlight and still be able to remain competitive with, we’re eager to do that.” These unique local items give shoppers a reason to visit Lazy Gator over other retailers because they can’t get them anywhere else.

For example, Callahan worked with a graphic artist to design a Lazy Gator branded T-shirt that says, “Murrells Inlet: A sleepy little fishing village with a big drinking problem.” The shirt became so popular that Callahan and Batten decided to make it their main promotional item, offering a discount for it in the Grand Strand coupon book to draw people in. “We viewed it as marketing, and I can’t

Unique finds from local artists and USAmade brands are featured prominently.


tell you how valuable that is, because I see these shirts everywhere,” Callahan says. “I’ve walked through a store in Virginia and seen one of these shirts. I’ve had friends in Kentucky say, ‘You’ll never believe what I saw today: a Lazy Gator shirt!’”

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Callahan has watched the Grand Strand grow and evolve over time as hotels, amenities and new attractions lure more tourists to the coast. This transformation has brought more people to Murrells Inlet and into Lazy Gator, specifically. In fact, “last year was the best year we’ve ever had,” Callahan says. The store’s main season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but ongoing growth in the region “has increased our business in the shoulder months,” Callahan says. To keep shoppers coming back throughout the year, Callahan leverages his pointof-sale system to collect customer info, like birthdate and contact info, so he can send coupons during their birthday month and other specials throughout the year. Over the last couple of years, Callahan has noticed a distinct shift in his customer demographic. “We’ve been open long enough that all of a sudden, we became a legacy store,” he says. “The children who used to come into the store with their parents when we first opened are now bringing their children back. We’ve become part of their family’s vacation memory.”

“The children who used to come into the store with their parents when we first opened are now bringing their children back. We’ve become part of their family’s vacation memory.” To ensure a consistent experience at Lazy Gator through the generations, Callahan is preparing the next wave of leaders to carry on the store’s legacy. He closely mentors Batten, the store buyer, and Jennifer Beall, the store manager. Both own shares of the business and together manage day-to-day operations, overseeing 20 employees during peak season. “The trust I have in them is invaluable,” says Callahan, who owns two other businesses besides Lazy Gator. “Our anchor employees and even part-time staff mean a lot to us because they all take ownership to make sure our customers have a great experience.” 26 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022




Products geared toward children can open up opportunities for seaside stores to capture more sales with fun beach toys and accessories.




hey may be smaller in stature, but their spending power is great. Children, often in tow with mom and dad as they peruse a seaside gift shop, souvenir store or boutique, want to explore the store too. But they may be disappointed if they can’t find anything geared toward them. That letdown might also lead to a shorter visit from the family as a whole. There’s a way to avoid that rushed departure. You can offer enticing products that kids won’t be able to resist spending their birthday money or allowance on — or nudging mom and dad to splurge on. Nearly every product category a shopper can find in a seaside store has some sort of kids’ option. This is in addition to the obvious toys and games you can offer them. Apparel and accessory brands are also focusing on kid-centric options with beachy themes that coastal kiddos will gravitate toward. For wholesale brand Mud Pie, kids’ gift is its fastest growing division. In July, the company expanded its flagship showroom at AmericasMart Atlanta. The showroom was expanded to 20,900 square feet and the additional 1,264 square feet is entirely dedicated to the brand’s growing baby and kids gift collection, resembling a retail environment. Coupled with the increase in kids and baby offerings, the brand decided to add to its pool and beach products, with towels, toys and pool floats for kids.







These product ideas will put smiles on young customers’ faces



4 7



10 11


1 | Sunnies: Pink polarized shades for kids,; 2 | Flopeeze: Versatile footwear for the beach, reef or pool,; 3 | Aloe Up: Reef-safe SPF 50 kids sunblock,; 4 | Turtle Tracks: Manatee Magic book with conservation story, beautiful illustrations and discussion facts,; 5 | Salty Britches: Chafing ointment,; 6 | Mud Pie: Shark shortall with rolled sleeves and coconut wood button shoulder,; 7 | The Petting Zoo: Soft pastel octopus plushie,; 8 | Wild Republic: Mystical mermaid figurine,; 9 | Safari Ltd.: Lifelike penguin with true-to-life features,; 10 | Surf Shack Puzzles: Colorful illustrated puzzles teach about the sea,; 11 | Fiesta: Swaddle Babies penguin,; 12 | Warm Fuzzy Toys: Squishy light-up dolphin, 32 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022


“We understood there was a need for trend-forward, giftable product in the [baby and kids] market,” says Michelle Labovitz, Mud Pie director of public relations. “This coupled with the boom in coastal travel, made the decision to expand pool and beach offerings a no-brainer.” Labovitz says LED toys and books, water-activated color-changing product, and nestable or collapsible toys are trending in the kids’ category for the brand.

WILD FOR ANIMALS Toy wholesalers like Warm Fuzzy Toys are also seeing some trends emerge. Sea life is always big among kids who are in beach mode, according to Karen Knir, director of sales. She has seen an uptick in sales of the company’s hatchling toys, like the Growing Shark Egg “where you put an egg in water and watch it hatch.” Squishable toys are also big for the company going into 2023 like its light-up squishy dolphin. Warm Fuzzy Toy’s website, www.warm, recognizes the popularity that


following each animal can have and, therefore, categorizes all its animal-themed toys by species. Customers can click on the “shop by animal” menu and select the animal icon they are looking for, such as sharks, alligators, penguins, turtles and dolphins. “We try to make it easy for everybody,” Knir says. Safari Ltd. carries a large variety of true-to-life animal figurines. The company’s best sellers in seaside retail locations are its Leopard Seal, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Cownose Ray and Spiny Lobster. “These are the best sellers not only because they are widely recognized by children but also because of their unbelievable detail,” says Alexandre Pariente, CEO of the Safari Ltd. “I have held each of these figurines in my hands and it impresses me as an adult. I’m sure children are even more impressed by how lifelike the figurines are.” The company’s Minke Whale and Salmon Shark are the Wild Safari Sea Life picks to watch in 2023, according to Safari Ltd. President Christina Pariente. “We released these

Safari’s lifelike figurines teach and inspire kids’ curiosity about sea life.

three figurines last quarter and they have been wildly popular among our wholesale partners. The Salmon Shark, especially, does not have a lot of representation in the world of figurines so we’re seeing people very happy about this release.” Turtle Tracks is another brand appealing to kids’ love for animals. Each children’s book is educational, beautifully illustrated and includes discussion facts. The stories also have easy to understand conservation messages.


The books, “Turtle Tracks,” “Loggerhead Life,” “Happy Hatchlings,” “Calypso Conch,” “Dolphin Discovery,” “Manatee Magic,” “Monkey Mischief “and “Gecko Getaway” also offer plush toys of the story characters that can be purchased with the books. “High-quality and clearly branded books, toys and accessories make an eye-catching display and an easy ‘upsell’ for our retailer partners,” says creator Sue Trew, who also

Turtle Tracks’ books with plush characters help capture children’s imaginations.


owns five retail stores. “Our fun, educational stories capture the imagination of young children, helping them learn to read and teaching them about the fascinating world around us.” She adds, “Adults and older children love the discussion facts in the back of each book which provide additional information for the inquisitive reader.”

EVER POPULAR PLUSH Plush toys are always a big hit with the younger kids. They’re soft and cuddly and many come in sea life that children see when they visit the coast, a zoo or an aquarium. Plush that is significant to the local area helps their appreciation grow for the location. “Plush toys play on your emotions, evoke creativity and stimulate play and imagination — all wonderful things for any child,” says Kay Griffith, national rep group sales manager for The Petting Zoo. Customers also appreciate that The Petting Zoo’s plush is made from recycled materials. “Eco-friendly renewable toys are certainly important to lovers of sea life,” notes Paul Cugi-

ni, The Petting Zoo national sales manager. The company’s Conservation Turtle continues to be a best seller, as is the new colorful Ombrez line. Wild Republic is another brand that offers plush toys that connect “people, planet and wildlife.” The brand also creates its plush from recycled materials, including fill made from recycled water bottles. Director of Marketing Kristin Kovedsky suggest that when adding or expanding on an existing kids’ section that retailers offer merchandise programs that relate to their particular location, have a sustainability focus, an educational offering and include brands that give back. The company’s bestsellers in seaside locations include all of its aquatics offerings like the Message from the Planet line, Aquatic Cuddlekins and Living Ocean collections. Sharks, dolphins and sea turtles are among the most popular animals. At the toy company Fiesta, the colors of the plush factor into what sells. While the company’s best sea life seller is the blue shark

P R O D U C T T R E N D: K I D S

PRO TIP: Offer merchandise programs that relate to your store’s particular location, have a sustainability focus, an educational offering and include brands that give back.


plush, “Rainbow Sherbet does awesome for us. We’ve had it for five years now and people just love the bright colors on it,” says Coral Reynolds, president. During the Las Vegas Souvenir and Resort Gift Show in September, Fiesta displayed its new Swaddle Babies collection that come with a plush toy so a child can walk around carrying their baby sea life animal in a swaddle. “These have done amazing,” says Reynolds.

MERMAID MADNESS Mermaids have always been a popular toy with little girls, but with Disney’s upcoming live action Little Mermaid release coming out next year, momentum is building for the alluring mythical sea creature.

The Petting Zoo’s Boho Mermaid Dolls with Friends are always a first choice with little girls, according to Griffin. Wild Republic is also gearing up for the movie release. “Our mermaids are category disruptors like Bratz dolls were to Barbie,” Kovedsky says. And its not just plush getting in on the mermaid madness. One & Only Creations’ neoprene backpacks come in a mermaid version for toddler girls. “They like that the color pops and it’s different,” says Wendy Lee, sales manager. “You can take it to the beach and it won’t get wet, and moms love it because you can wash it and it still looks brand new.” A shark version of the neoprene backpack is a hit with the toddler boys. The company

The Petting Zoo’s mermaids are popular with girls excited for the upcoming movie.

also sells hooded towels and just released a new line of pillows that are a three-in-one plush, pillow and blanket.

PUZZLES THAT INSPIRE Surf Shack’s collection of puzzles are made from premium 100% recycled Eska board and printed with nontoxic inks. Founder Mahina



Tuteur named the company Surf Shack “to capture that laid-back, cozy vibe that inspires our eclectic collection of artists. Plus, we live and operate this small business out of one.” There are puzzles for all skill levels: 1,000-piece, 500-piece and 70-piece. The 500-piece puzzles are popular with families coming together for vacations or the holidays, according to Tuteur. All the puzzles are created through a collaborative process with various female artists. “We are very intentional about picking designs that are proven to induce relaxation and inspire joy,” says Tuteur. Tuteur started the company a year and a half ago when her son, who was three at the time, was “really into puzzles” but the options were “boring,” she says. Not anymore. Kids love the colorful options and the fun artwork of Surf Shack puzzles. For example, Waimea Bay Day by Dinoflora depicts dinosaurs recreating in the water, and Santa’s Tropical Christmas by Suzanne Jennerich shows Santa lounging on the beach while his reindeer are surfing.


The company is a member of 1% for the Planet because, “I wanted the business to be a vehicle to support the issues we care about,” says Tuteur.

FOR THE BEACH Health and beauty products aren’t just reserved for adults. Kids need protection from the sun, sand and water, too. Amy Tucker, CEO of AWC Truck Co., knows that firsthand. Her company created Salty Britches because her young son could not enjoy playing in saltwater due to the painful saltwater chafing. “Nothing on the market seemed to work very well or for very long,” she recalls. “We created Salty Britches for our family and now are thrilled to share it with yours. Salty Britches is super robust and will outlast extreme conditions, even a six-year-old that can play all day at the beach.” Aloe Up also offers its Aloe Up Kids to help keep young ones safe from the sun’s harmful rays. “It was important to us to have a line

of products that were focused on the most sensitive skin,” says Luke LaRock of Aloe Up. “Kids Sport Sunscreen is our strongest SPF combined with a hypoallergenic formula and is water resistant for 80 minutes.” The formula is based with 35% aloe gel and contains no alcohol, octinoxate or parabens. It’s ocean safe and biodegradable.

FROM HEAD TO TOE A kid losing a flip fop at the beach is a pretty common occurrence. Footwear at the beach is challenging to keep on, especially when going between the sand and the water. Flopeeze footwear is designed to solve that issue. “I think one of the great traits about the infants and the kids’ version is that they are unlike any other beach shoe because once they put them on they literally can run around the beach, go into the water and the footwear will not come off,” says Dan Blondeau, managing director of Flopeeze. They feel free to run around and because they aren’t encapsulated like a water shoe, sand and water doesn’t get trapped inside,

P R O D U C T T R E N D: K I D S

Blondeau says. Kids are attracted to the fun designs too like polka dots, sea mammals, zoo animals and a trademarked footprint pattern. Another perk is that all the shoes come in dual sizes, Blondeau points out. So rather than buying a new pair with each size increase, infants and toddlers can grow into the shoe as their foot grows. “They’re great for kids,” he says. Kim Hartz and Courtney CamKids will be stylish from head to toe at po are another example of moms the beach or pool with Sunnies polarized who formed a company to solve shades, left, and Flopeeze footwear, right. their kids’ problem. They witnessed kids, including theirs, stealing their parents’ or so cheap they broke almost immediately,” sunglasses because it was “too bright” or “the says Hartz. The frames themselves were also sun was hurting their eyes.” boring. They decided since they couldn’t find Hartz was talking to another mom about it, why not create it themselves? how there wasn’t a good kids’ sunglasses Sunnies come standard with polarized brand on the market with polarized lenses lenses and all the UVA and UVB protection. that were affordable. They also are made with an antislip material “We looked at the sunglass options so they don’t fall off while kids are playing. available for kids and they were either too Hartz’s kids like wearing the glasses and expensive with upsells for polarized lenses have helped pick out colors for them. The

Milo Man and the Wilhelmina styles are named after the Hartz’s kids. “They’re little brand ambassadors,” she says of their involvement. Families have many choices when they go shopping, and if you have something for the kids, they are more likely to want to check out your store. With so many ideas for products to carry, you’ll be ready when they come in your door.



Michael Hale is founder, CEO and creative director of Los Angeles-based retail design consulting firm Retail Rehab, He can be reached at You can also hear him at the Coastal Connections Conference, Jan. 22-24, 2023, in Orlando during the panel session, “Maximum Impact Store Ideas.” Learn more at

Maximize selling opportunities by using sales analytics to configure your store.



can’t tell you how many times I have heard “we sell a lot of this” only to find that when accurate sales reports are pulled, “this” only contributes to selling one or two per day or as little as 1% of the store’s overall sales per year. While my goal as a retail design strategist is to help you sell more, analysis helps with making strategic decisions on category (and product) placement.

WHAT IS SPACE PLANNING? Space planning is a strategic technique used to properly allocate space on your sales floor by accurate sales statistics. It helps you make sure you have the adequate space needed for top-performing categories and also helps you understand if you are over-spaced on lower producing categories. Space planning can be big-picture, or it can be extremely granular. It all depends on how deep you want to go and how detailed you want to get. I have worked with clients where every inch of selling space had to validate its space by sales. My suggestion for most of my clients is to look at it by category first and then dig in deeper if more detailed analysis is required within each category.


Space planning for retail success







RETAILER: Inis the Energy of the Sea LOCATION: Huntington Beach, California Discovery areas (feature tables) were used to highlight themed and curated discretionary products that accentuated the Inis brand and identity. This truly took space planning more granular into subcategories as there were some subcategories stronger than others, thus placement within the focal areas of the store was critical. Fragrance was a top performing subcategory, so it was placed at a primary location in the store and cross-merchandised into lifestyle and discovery zones.



Accurate reporting. The first step is being sure you have accurate information from your sales reports. If you don’t currently have your POS (point-of-sale) system set up by category (or subcategory) to pull accurate sales reports, you may want to set that up now and wait until you have a fair amount of accurate category sales statistics before attempting a space planning analysis. Once you have accurate category and/or subcategory sales, you can begin to understand what categories bring in what volume or percentage of your store’s overall sales. For example, you may find that gifts are 40% of your business, while apparel is 20%, kids and toys are 15%, regional foods are 10% and 5% is other miscellaneous categories.


Accurate space understanding. The next step is measuring your actual retail selling space. This means calculating each shelf, each fixture and/or each area utilized for merchandising retail goods. You can take this extremely granular if desired, but a general idea of square footage for each category is usually sufficient to start. For a rough idea, you can simply count the number of sections/ fixtures in your store that are dedicated to each category. If you have a total of 30 sections/fixtures and six sections are dedicated to gifts, then approximately 20% of your overall store selling space is allocated to gifts. Again, you can get granular with specific measurements if you desire a more precise space planning analysis. A slightly more specific measuring method is by linear feet. A 3-foot wall section is twice the height of most floor fixtures but really only has






an accessible shopping space that is equivalent to what a floor fixture is, so I would say it is 3 linear feet. When it comes to floor fixtures, you’ll want to count each side. For example, a 4-foot-by-2-foot gondola is a total of 12 linear feet (four plus four, plus two plus two, equals 12). Once you tally the entire store’s linear feet, you can start to deduct how many linear feet each category occupies, then establish each category’s percentage of overall space.

3 RETAILER: Blackbird General Store LOCATION: Calabasas, California We worked with the owner to establish key category placement based on anticipated sales, since the store was just launching. By tapping into our experience with other home/gift stores, we designed a store with certain key zones. We then developed a floorplan that allowed flexibility to grow and shift as sales history was captured. The team is easily able to focus on top-selling categories and expand them, while at the same time able to reduce space allocated for slower selling categories.


Space to sales analysis. The next step is understanding your selling space and how it reflects your sales. You may find that gifts contributes to 40% of your overall store sales, but only occupies 20% of your store’s overall selling space. That will tell you that your gift category is underspaced. At the same time, you may find that apparel only contributes to 20% of your store’s overall sales, but apparel occupies nearly 40% of your store’s overall selling space. That will tell you that apparel is overspaced.

HELPFUL HINT! It’s also ideal to understand what your “never-out” list of products is. A coaster at $6 each may have very high sell-through and ultimately accounts for 10% of your store’s overall sales per year. It should never be out of stock. I suggest finding your top three volume-producing items per category and add those to your “never-out” list.







Set your store. By setting your store’s categories into properly allocated square footage, based on sales, you will find that you have the appropriate space to feature the correct product assortment that ultimately drives sales. Here is also where you can get granular and detailed by understanding what particular SKUs within a category are producing the most volume. I always say to pull your top five or 10 SKUs in each category to be sure they are represented well. These are the items driving that category’s sales. Adversely, the slowest selling items may need to be omitted if space requires.


RETAILER: Bacara Resort & Spa LOCATION: Santa Barbara, California As a luxury boutique within a resort, we helped the buying team establish strong category statements within the store. Creating a sense of place with props and framed graphics, and accentuating a lifestyle was vital to the story-telling aspect. Sales reports depicted category placement, but cross-merchandising various categories on mannequins, bust forms, feature tables and display vignettes aided in impulse sales of accessories and jewelry.


When setting your store, keep adjacencies in mind. Keeping impulsive or like categories adjacent to one another helps with add-on sales, i.e., displaying wearable accessories next to apparel or placing home or kitchen accessories next to regional foods. When determining what products or categories occupy key focal selling spaces, like at the POS or on the front table. Make sure it’s validating its space by high turnover. A $5 keychain may produce more volume in sales than a $60 necklace, but you may sell 20 to 30 of the keychains for every necklace. Also keep in mind security and theft issues. High-theft items merchandised where they have clear visibility can help with minimizing shrinkage.


Opportunities for growth. You may find that regional foods is 20% of your store’s overall sales, but has only been in a small space in






RETAILER: Empire State Building LOCATION: New York, New York Space planning was a vital tool in ensuring the right products are featured in the right place. Key focal areas and prime retail fixtures are dedicated to the top selling SKUs. Cross merchandising apparel with gifts or souvenirs helped to create strong visual statements. Mass merchandising was used for strong selling SKUs so restocking logistics didn’t lead sales losses. Seasonal collections grow as needed (sweatshirts/hoodies in fall, T-shirts in summer and holiday-themed decor/ornaments).


the past. You have some great vendors you want to bring in that are on-trend and you expect to grow that category. By increasing the assortment and expanding the space allocated to regional foods, you expect to see an increase in that category’s sales. Monitoring it and making sure that it’s working is key. If it’s not producing enough percentage of sales to validate the expansion, you can always retract the space to where it needs to be by focusing on just your top selling SKUs within that category. High sell-through products. You may find that one SKU within a category is attributing to the majority of that category’s sales. You may be able to restock this item more frequently and not need to expand the space necessarily for excessive bulk of this SKU. The opportunity here is that you can introduce new or featured items within this extra space. Seasonal products. You may find that particular categories/products need more space seasonally. It’s ideal to borrow space from slower selling categories to expand categories seasonally, as needed.

Retail Rehab has created a form for clients to complete that helps to gather the necessary information needed to properly space plan a retail store. We also can physically measure (or virtually help you measure) your space. Once that’s done, the magic starts to happen, and we start to see where opportunities are and how we can best take advantage of top producing categories (or products). Then, we can design a strategic floor plan and store layout based on analysis.


ORCA Coolers Enjoy icy goodness to the last sip with the Tini Dusty Rose martini cup.

Matrix Sales Group Glassware featuring detailed custom-designed artwork with namedrop available. Salty Raven Jellyfish Reach collins glass is dishwasher and microwave safe. FrostBuddy Universal Buddy in Hibiscus print holds a variety of can styles.

Shaka Love Sand-based silicone unbreakable wine glass.




Help customers keep their beverages the right temperature while also infusing personality with fun and functional drinkware styles.


oing for a bike ride, relaxing by the pool, spending a day at the beach, having a family brunch, or looking for a gift — the reasons customers need drinkware is endless, and as a seaside retailer you can make sure that no matter what the occasion, you’ve got them covered. Providing the right vessel to carry a drink may sound easy, but with all the options available on the market, knowing what to offer and how to offer it can help make drinkware a lucrative category for your store.

Drinkware is becoming more sophisticated with specialized artwork, a variety of colors and materials, and eco-friendly and temperature maintaining properties. The companies that make today’s drinkware are pushing the envelope with designs and features that are anything but ordinary. To make the most of these options and preferences, Erik Howe, owner and founder of SIC Cups, suggests retailers carry a wide variety of drinkware sizes for

SIC Cups Flamingo Palms triple-insulated 12-ounce tumbler.

Cape Shore Sea turtle themed coffee mug features a namedrop. My Bougie Bottle Insulated Octopoda stainless steel water bottle has spill-proof lid. 50 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022

Pirani Insulated tumbler cup in ocean-themed colors holds 16 ounces.

Swig Life 32-ounce Wanderlust tumbler depicts a swirl of sea colors.


SIC Cups offers triple-insulated tumblers.

customers to choose from. “With drinkware it is never a ‘one size fits all’ deal,” he says. “Everyone is usually looking for a specific size for a specific use so it is always a great idea to have something in store for everyone.” SIC Cups’ lineup of triple-insulated stainless steel drinkware consists of 10 different sizes: three tumblers in 12-, 20- and 30-ounce varieties; 12-ounce and 27-ounce bottles; a


16-ounce stemless wine cup; slim and standard can coolers; and hydration jugs in 64 and 128 ounces. “Our best sellers in seaside locations are our 27-ounce water bottles with our leak-proof lids that also have the integrated carabiner clip,” says Howe. “We have noticed a nice growth in sales of our jugs for people filling up water for the day at the beach or on the boat. For tumblers, our leading seller in size is our 20-ounce due to the versatility where it can be used as a coffee cup, water cup and a cocktail cup.” The company’s low minimum order quantity and custom drinkware allows smaller retailers to pick and choose a mixture of any

VESSELS OF ART Matrix Sales Group LLC offers a wide range of styles and sizes of glass, ceramic and stainless steel drinkware, but as A.J. Prisco, director of business development will tell you, customers are looking at more than what the drinkware is made of when they are making their purchases. “For us it is a lot more about the artwork than the actual products,” he says. “Everything we do is custom. We have several artists on our team. We try to develop 30 to 40 new designs each year in each category, including seaside, outdoor and Midwest.” The company will take concepts like turtles, manatees, lobsters, sailboats and anchors

“Everyone is usually looking for a specific size for a specific use so it is always a great idea to have something in store for everyone.” — ERIK HOWE, SIC CUPS quantity of colors. This encourages retailers to try new designs, according to Howe. He predicts retro and nautical styles will be big trends for 2023.

and turn them into original, detailed designs often with a namedrop. At Surf Expo in September, buyers were all about tropical designs and the retro surf look,


My Bougie Bottle’s Stella Piscis provides a sustainable way to sip on the beach.


according to Prisco. Mid-Atlantic customers, he notes, are drawn more toward designs with beaches and seashells. “It all depends on where you are,” he says. Matrix recently introduced new water bottles on display at Surf Expo that are customized to look like any lighthouse and can be namedropped. “We just got our patent on them and we are really excited about that. Water bottles are super popular,” says Prisco. My Bougie Bottle is another drinkware company that focuses on aesthetics. It created its eye-catching drinkware to inspire the movement against plastic bottles and to sustain an environmentally friendly future. “Our striking designs and beautiful gift packaging entice customers, who often come back to buy our collections,” says founder Juliet Pearson. “Using nature as our muse, we are creating vessels of art.” Del Mar, Hibiscus, Tiare Bliss, Gelari, Stella Piscis, and Conchas Maris are among the company’s best sellers in coastal retail locations, aquariums and resorts. “These are the gorgeous ocean- and tropical-inspired

designs that are not found on other drinkware and resonate with thalassophiles (sea lovers),” explains Pearson. She predicts exotic florals and tropical colors will continue their popularity in 2023 as well as sea life. “We have had many recommendations to feature more marine life, predominately mammals, in our designs. Seaside enthusiasts have an affinity for ocean life, and I think that designs portraying marine life will always be trending,” she says. My Bougie Bottles come in 25-ounce water bottles, and in January 2023 the brand is launching 20-ounce coffee tumblers. The company also sells accessories like straw packs, different lids for the bottles, ice stick trays, bottle cleaning brushes, and a stylish sling water bottle carrier.

SUSTAINABLE SIPS The bottles are leakproof, condensation and BPA free and made from food-grade steel, but beyond the aesthetics and functional features, the brand’s mission is about bringing quality reusable drinkware to all.


“The goal is to continue to work with organizations locally (and globally) to support reusables,” says Pearson. “At My Bougie Bottle, it’s not just about quenching our thirst from eco-water bottles with our besties, but reducing our carbon footprint and providing additional ways to reduce waste with reusable eco-friendly water bottles.” Sustainability is also important to SIC Cups. “Being a Florida-based company, we strive to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that are disposed of at an alarming rate,” says Howe. “We want to help keep the oceans, beaches and all land free from plastic pollution and that is why we offer a sustainable drinkware alternative.” Pirani Life co-founder and chief storyteller Danielle Del Sordo sees the sustainability trend continuing to grow into 2023. The company’s 16-ounce and 26-ounce tumblers come in a variety of colors. They are also lightweight

Vintage variations

The fun of vintage glassware is the detailed imagery on the glasses, according to Seasons Kaz Sparks. But not being able to replace it when it breaks, not being able to add to your set and not being able easily care for it, takes some of the fun out, she says. “I was able to solve all of that.” As the owner of Salty Raven, Sparks has created sets of glasses that have that vintage look and feel but are dishwasher safe and aren’t limited in options. Traditional vintage drinkware makes a fun gift but being able to get it in sets larger than four to six is difficult, and according to Katz, most people need a rotation of eight to 12 of one kind of shape or size. “A set of four just isn’t going to cut it for everyone,” she says. “I want you to be able to have a set of 12 if you want and have them all be different but have them all go together, and then when your favorite one breaks, you can actually replace it.”



and stackable … great for bringing to the beach, notes Del Sordo.

PERSONAL PREFERENCES Pirani Life’s Paradise Blue and Great White are among the top-selling colors for coastal retailers. The company just launched a new Ombre collection that Del Sordo thinks will be one of the highest performing styles for the company at seaside locations. “POP (point of purchase) displays are crucial for a great presentation and storytelling

Pirani cups are lightweight and stackable.


Making limes memorable

It’s not uncommon to put a lime in your drink, but a new product is taking an ordinary drink garnish and giving it some pizzazz. Bryan Kujawski, the creator of HeadLimes is turning a standard drink into “something so much more engaging, entertaining and memorable.” Based on a Pez-dispenser concept, Headlimes are a functional and entertaining way to add lime to any beverage — at home, a party, a bar or a restaurant. “Retailers are usually looking for something new, distinctive and that few (if any) of their customers have seen before,” says Kujawski. “With bright packaging and imagery, HeadLimes have proven to be popular impulse buys.” The shark, which launched at September Surf Expo has become the biggest seller, out performing its gator predecessor. Other sea life are in the works like dolphins and flamingos. for customers,” she advises retailers. Mitch Mammoser who founded drinkware company FrostBuddy with his brother Brock agrees. “Create a display that catches the eye of the consumer and tells the story of what makes you different.” FrostBuddy carries a wide range of drink-

ware, including its popular Universal Can Cooler; the 24- and 40-ounce Sports Buddy; a 128-ounce Jug Buddy; Chubby Buddy (made strictly for Modelo bottles); Universal Wine Buddy; and stainless steel Buddy Bowls for the four-legged family members. “We created the world’s first Universal


ORCA Coolers’ Tini barware in pastel colors keeps specialty beverages frosty.

Can Cooler that holds 12-ounce slim cans, 12-ounce regular cans, 12-ounce bottles and 16-ounce cans/bottles along with being able to use it as a tumbler,” explains Brock Mammoser. Bestselling designs in the Universal Buddy are the Merica, Camo Flag, Beach Glitter, Hibiscus and Sunset. The company released its first two-tone design in October that the Mammosers expect to be very popular during 2023 as well. Billy Power, manager for drinkware company ORCA Coolers, foresees drinkware that “has personality and allows the consumer to express their individuality through color, pattern or other differences” being the direction drinkware is going in 2023. He says ORCA’s single-wall, copper-clad, stainless steel drinkware keeps beverages hot or cold for long periods of time. The company’s Barrel and Tini varieties are especially popular. Many resorts feature the brand’s Tini and Vino barware, which Power says “helps people relax and enjoy water activities in style without spilling their drinks.” Swig Life designs insulated drinkware and coolers made for living your best life, according to CEO Tracee Mathes. “We understand that your water bottle, travel tumbler and insulated bag are each a reflection of your personal style, and this inspires us to produce premium products in designs you love, for yourself or for a gift.” Swig Life’s specialty is designing cups by women for women, explains Mathes. “We always say ‘cold drinks, hot coffee, cute cups. Compliments guaranteed.’” Swig Life’s top selling shapes are its mugs

and tumblers, but Mathes says, “Keep in mind your unique customer and their needs. Plus, don’t forget our bestselling matching Loppi tote and coordinating straws.” Mathes recommends that retailers start with Swig Life’s mugs and tumbler in three or four different prints. Having the variety will keep the consumer coming back for more. Swig Life is focusing on bright and bold prints for 2023, along with giving the customer a reason or a season to buy a new Swig. “We love coming out with seasonal prints each year, whether it be going to the Derby, a day at the beach, or a holiday party, we have a print for every event.” Whatever the reason your customer needs a glass, cup, mug or can cooler, you’ll be able to offer something that will help them quench their thirst, reflect personal style and remind them of their favorite destinations.

FrostBuddy water bottles feature handles.



You won’t want to miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights, connect with other coastal retailers and explore exciting new products — all for one affordable price! SUNDAY, JANUARY 22 Registration and Badge Pick-up......................12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks.......................3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. KEYNOTE SESSION ................................................3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Fastest Path to Cash & Calm – Increase Cash Flow Now Afternoon Break & Networking.........................4:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. SESSION II................................................................4:45 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Effective Buying Strategies Welcome Party........................................................6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

MONDAY, JANUARY 23 Continental Breakfast........................................... 8:00 a.m - 9:00 a.m. SESSION III .............................................................9:00 a.m - 10:30 a.m. Maximum Impact Store Ideas Morning Break & Networking......................... 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. SESSION IV..............................................................11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Creating Coastal Connections Lunch.........................................................................12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Starfish Award Presentation............................... 1:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. SESSION V ................................................................2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Emerging Beach, Coastal and Nautical Product Trends Afternoon Break & Networking.......................... 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. SESSION VI...............................................................3:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. The Boardwalk Chat It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere Party................... 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 24 Continental Breakfast........................................... 8:00 a.m - 9:00 a.m. SESSION VII .......................................................... 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Drive Traffic, Sales and Profits with Social Media THE BOARDWALK................................................ 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Shop with 30 of the industry’s hottest vendors! This exclusive event is only open to conference attendees!

All attendees will receive a FREE welcome swag bag valued over $450 and the chance to win valuable prize giveaways from session sponsors!



he Coastal Connections Conference is right around the corner, and it’s not too late to register! The only retail conference designed specifically for beach, coastal and nautical retailers is now Jan. 22-24, at the Margaritaville Resort Orlando. The in-person event combines educational sessions with fun networking opportunities and an exclusive exhibitor experience. Sessions address the unique aspects of running a seaside store — something you won’t find anywhere else. Combined with the many opportunities to interact with other seaside retailers and vendors during meals, breaks and receptions, you’ll leave with valuable insights and meaningful connections. The event kicks off on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. with a one-hour opening keynote session, “Fastest Path to Cash and Calm — Increase Your Cash Flow Now.” Keynote speaker, Cathy Donovan Wagner, founder of RetailMavens, will share powerful action steps to improve your cash flow so you can enjoy the calm of knowing you can pay your bills year-round. Following the keynote session, Wagner will moderate another important panel session titled, “Effective Buying Strategies” with prominent speakers, including Cindy Henry, International Market Centers; Lisa Berry (Glosson), Clarion Events; and Dane Cohen, Management One. On Monday, Jan. 23, and Tuesday, Jan. 24, several expert speakers will cover a variety of topics specific to coastal retailers. You’ll gain actionable takeaways that can immediately be applied to your retail stores. Other topics include emerging product trends; maximum impact store ideas; social media strategies; and creating coastal connections. Notable speakers include: Tommy Brown, Saint Louis Zoo; Toby Delbridge, Barefoot Trader/Beach Co.; Kate Fratalia, Loggerhead Marinelife Center; Steph Bechard, Crystal Media; Michael Hale, Retail Rehab; Dave Seehafer, Global Wave Ventures; William Hill, Margaritaville Resort; and Joshua Stewart, Outfitters to the Outsiders. A special awards ceremony on Monday, Jan. 23, will honor winners of Seaside Retailer’s Starfish Award and include information on the recipients’ charitable efforts. Attendees will gain exclusive entrance to The Boardwalk beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, featuring 30 of the most sought-after beach, coastal and nautical brands. Coastal Connections Conference has also added a session on Monday where attendees can learn more about vendors exhibiting during The Boardwalk event in a Q&A format. The early bird rate of $495 is available until Dec. 31. Don’t delay, register today for the only retail conference for seaside retailers!



Connections CONFERENCE



JANUARY 22-24 • 2023



SESSION SPONSORS: Beachables, Country Home Creations, Devi & Co, Dune Jewelry, Kay Hova Art, Nau-T-Girl Jewelry



WILL RECEIVE A WELCOME BAG SPONSORS: Bags by Bruno, Bali Queen, FREE WELCOME Bali Y'all, Bamboo Source Tropical Decor, Cape Shore, CoTZ, SWAG BAG VALUED Daisy Mae Designs, Fin Pin Shop, First & Main, OVER $450! Global Wave Ventures, The Grecian Soap Co., Impulse Souvenirs, Inis, Kate Shore Art, Key West Body Scrubs, Lake & Coast, Lighthouse Keeper’s, Mutual Sales, My Beach Dog, Ocean World Imports, Powder Pouch, Salty Britches, Sea Lark Enterprises, Ship Shape Styles, The Beach and Back, The Wellington Michael Collection, Town Pride, True Ocean, Uniquely Coastal, What the Fin, Wild Republic BOARDWALK EXHIBITORS: Bags by Bruno, Bali Queen, Bamboo Source Tropical Decor, Beachables, Beachmate, Blue Iguana, Caloosa WaterWear, Cottonseed Marketplace, Cotz, Country Home Creations, Devi & Co, Dune Jewelry, Fin Pin Shop, First & Main, Impulse Souvenirs, Jackie Gallagher Designs, Kay Hova Art, Laura Kelly Designs, Mac Daddy, MTO Performance Wear, Nomadic State, North Swell, Ocean World Imports, Patti Biggs, Pearls and Camo, The Admirals Daughters, The Wellington Michael Collection, Town Pride, True Ocean, Wild Republic INDUSTRY SPONSORS: Atlanta Market, Clarion Gift & Souvenir Group, Global Wave Ventures, Midwest Shore Society, ZAG

Sign up soon while early bird rates are still available!

“My husband and I were super excited to find out about the Coastal Connections Conference! In 20 years of retail, I have never seen an opportunity like this to join together with other seaside retailers in this way. We are looking forward to meeting others.” — Avery Smith Islands Mercantile Kiawah Island, SC

“I am over-the-top excited about the Coastal Connections Conference! We are always under a time crunch at trade shows, but this event will allow us to talk shop with retailers in a fun, relaxing venue with a margarita in hand.” — Eileen Burke Queen Eileen’s Encinitas, CA


• Early bird rate: $495 (through 12/31/22) – Use discount code SURF100 • Nonprofit and ZAG early bird rate: $445 (through 12/31/22) • Standard rate: $595 (through 1/10/23) • For information about group discounts and media registration contact us at: 858-684-7744 or


• Conference attendees receive a special rate of only $179/night.



• Extend your stay before and after and still receive the same great rate. • 855-995-9099


IMPULSE BUYS Sessoms’ Candy and Gifts in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, is full of highly visible, inexpensive items for easy last-minute buys.




ee it, like it, buy it. Impulse purchases ring in last-minute revenue for coastal retailers that smartly stock and neatly display a range of low price point products, usually at the check-out counter. Take Sessoms’ Candy & Gifts in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. A 6-foot lighthouse display is stacked with shot glasses and mugs. “At the counter, we have coasters, magnets, keychains — the whole section is ‘impulsey’ 60 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022


and says Sea Isle City on it,” says Jay (Junius Jr.) Sessoms, owner of the multi-generational shop, in business since 1972. Customers are often overheard saying, “It’s the only store like this on earth.” In fact, impulse might be the theme rather than the unexpected checkout purchase at Sessoms’. The boardwalk gift store carries items like sharks-in-a-bottle, pirate paraphernalia, model ships, bamboo wind chimes — and souvenir staples priced so customers

can add them to their bag without a second thought. “During the summer, we have to replenish the displays every day or it looks like we are empty,” says Sessoms.

IDENTIFYING THE RIGHT ITEMS Understanding exactly what classifies as an impulse buy is key, says Chris Silva, owner of wholesale company Steamboat Sticker. “I say to customers, [impulse buys] are like the National Enquirer at the grocery checkout.


When strategically stocked and displayed, last-minute impulse buys can ring in big sales for coastal retailers.






Customers won’t be able to resist these enticing impulse buy ideas.

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1 | Joseph K & Co.: Sea turtle ornament,; 2 | Bee Bella: Handcrafted beeswax lip balm,; 3 | SJT Enterprises: Surfboard bottle opener,; 4 | Beach Hut: Happy Hour magnet,; 5 | PCF Souvenirs: Magnet bottle opener,; 6 | P. Graham Dunn: Beach-themed snap sign,; 7 | Fancy That Gift & Decor: Light-up seahorse figurine,; 8 | Eugy: Sea turtle 3D cardboard puzzle, 9 | Impulse Souvenirs: Charm keyring,; 10 | Daisy Mae Designs: Custom vintage map coaster sets,; 11 | Cape Shore: Starfish cork shot glass; 12 | Ocean World Imports: Flamingo figurine,; 13 | Brass Reminders: Sea turtle sticker;; 14 | Steamboat Sticker: Colorful name-drop sticker, 62 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022


Ring up more sales

Check out these trending impulse buy ideas for your checkout area.


Stickers: Beachy designs and namedrop decals


Car coasters: Fun coastal styles and sayings


Key chains: Vintage, charms


Magnets: Sea-themed icons like turtles, lighthouses, crabs sharks, whales, lobsters


Classy sips: Tumblers, flasks, shot glasses and mugs


Candy: Local makers and beach themes


Beauty extras: Lips balms, hand lotion and sanitizers


Affordable jewelry: Sea glass, bracelets, rings, earrings

9 10

Toys: Fidget spinners, Popits Sunscreens: Specialty reef-safe or sustainable brands


Sessoms’ offers impulse grabs from pirate ships and tiki masks for bakyard fun.

GQ sells on the magazine rack in aisle three. There is a difference. Impulse buys are the small stuff, the last-minute stuff the ‘Oh, this would be fun,’ or, ‘I need to buy something for Johnny; here’s a sticker.’” Stickers, holiday ornaments, bracelets, candy, keychains, car coasters, namedrop mugs — these items consistently sell as last-minute grabs across the country with icons, themes and names changing based on location. Ultimately, “It’s in the name,” says Anthony Burdette, vice president of marketing

and product development at P. Graham Dunn, speaking of why we refer to checkout purchases as impulse buys. “These are items that aren’t expensive to stock but can be the perfect gift to increase basket ring.”

SEE AND SPEND Price point is an important consideration when stocking impulse buys, according to Silva, and customers are willing to spend more these days. Silva says the increase in spend is “dramatic” because the cost of staples like


Raise a glass (and more) to impulse buys

CapaBunga has made a name for itself in the wine accessories market. The company, made up of former winemakers, invents tools that safely transport, serve and store food and wine. “We have everything from wine caps to reseal your still and sparkling wine to corkscrews to wine glass identifiers,” says Maire Murphy, founder/owner of CapaBunga. “We also carry flasks and canteens and all can be customized at low minimums.” The wine caps have proven to be “a slam dunk impulse buy that just fly out the door at $5 retail,” according to Murphy. “Customers buy them with town names on them as well as beachy icons and funny slogans. They’re sold in counter display units that hold 48 pieces — we call it the chocolate box for wine lovers.” Catering to an audience that enjoys entertaining and being entertained, CapaBunga has retailers who are seeking an all-out display of drink-and-dine functional and fun products. The company website,, also has a blog. (Cue up some tips like six wines under $15.) Murphy says CapaBunga has several beachy retailers that have been carrying the wine caps for over nine years. “Put them near the register and you will refill the CDU (counter display unit) regularly,” she says. “You can also select your own six designs to go in the CDU.”


groceries has elevated much more than items like stickers or magnets. “If you think about it, before a sticker cost $2.99 and a brand-new Ford F150 cost $25,000, and now a sticker is $3.99 and an F150 is $50,000. The impulse buys have stayed modestly priced, but you are seeing people pick up more of them.” Silva says retailers carrying Steamboat Sticker products report that customers select several stickers from the display rather than just one. Rather than spending a few dollars, they might spend up to $20 on a last-minute checkout purchase. “It’s important to understand what an impulse buy really is,” Silva adds. “It has to be priced correctly and truly one of those things where it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ and customers set it down at the checkout counter without thinking.” Sessoms keeps impulse price points under $20, and there is a wide selection of items that are less than $10. “If you can get it under the $10 and $20 point like $9.98 or $14.98, that will sell a little better, but our economy here


“It’s important to understand what an impulse buy really is. It has to be priced correctly and truly one of those things where it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ and customers set it down at the checkout counter without thinking.” — Chris Silva, Steamboat Sticker has switched,” he notes. “We used to be a blue collar area, and we really are not anymore. They are building million dollar homes in town. So if they like it, they buy it.” This isn’t true everywhere. Some hometown shops that cater to locals might notice tighter purse strings. “Shoppers are watching their wallets more closely when they are at home buying groceries, gas and other essentials,” Burdette says. That is not always the case for vacationers, however. “Destinations continue to thrive,” he says. “We see retailers on the coasts doing well despite a bit of economic uncertainty in the marketplace. This tends to follow a mental state of being for folks that are on vacation. Many of them have saved up already and set aside money they plan to spend on vacation.”

STOCKED TO SELL The type of impulse items a coastal retailer stocks can depend on the shop theme. Laura Whittaker, owner of Ocean Dreams in Sherborn, Massachusetts, is passionate about ocean conservation. Her store is stocked with sustainable and reusable products, along with items that give back to ecological organizations. “Right now, some of the best impulse sellers are lip balms by Bee Bella that are in bamboo containers rather than plastic, and they are not a brand you see at other stores, so they are special and more sustainable,” Whittaker says. Pocket hand sanitizers are also popular. “I have them in a glass bottle or little plastic container and the company, Bee Clean, uses

Ocean Dreams displays giftable buys at the checkout for care packages and more.

recycled material when they make their plastic so it’s clean,” she says. Whittaker didn’t expect candy to be so appealing, but she sells it at the counter daily because it complements gift baskets customers create. “I feel like people are coming in to send a care package to someone in college or who isn’t feeling well and they put together a box that starts with a soap, a Soap Lift, and then it



The pulse of the impulse buy The impulse buys at a coastal store generally fall into two categories, according to Kim Williams, account manager at Impulse Souvenirs, a souvenir wholesaler based in Kent, Washington, that bills itself as a one stop, original art souvenir source that develops one-of-akind custom products that convey a unique attraction. Those two categories are: 1.) functional and 2.) fun, immediate use. An example of functional might be a customer that is headed to the beach and has their sandals, cover-up and other gear but no place put all that stuff once they get there. “A simple canvas cinch or tote can be that convenient carry all,” describes Williams. An example of a fun, immediate use impulse buy might be something the customer doesn’t necessarily need, but the convenience factor, fun and the price makes for an easy purchase. How do you capitalize on that desire? Williams suggests, “When they are at the cash register at the shop, right there is a fun peel and stick embroidered patch that captures their trip in a fun, easy way to put on their shirt or backpack.” Impulse Souvenirs offers an array of these quick grabs that are fun and convenient, including exclusive patches, distinctive magnets, die-cut stickers and collectible lapel pins.


gravitates to adding lip balm, hand sanitizer and candy,” she says. Sessoms stocks perennial favorites like decals and Hydro Flasks — customers buy Sea Isle City stickers for them — along with trendy items. “This year we have jiggly wiggly slugs and the latest fidgets,” he says. Popular themes include turtles because of a local push to protect them, and great white sharks because they are spotted off the coast and even named. “Kids come in and buy everything shark, from shark teeth and jaws to sharks-in-a-bottle and stuffed animals,” says Sessoms. Namedrop is a strong and growing impulse category, according to Burdette. “A new trending product for us is the vintage motel key chain that replicates the look and feel of a classic motel key chain with updated colors, engraving and sayings.” Car coasters also drive sales at P. Graham Dunn’s retailers. “They are both functional and fun, which makes them a go-to for vacationers,” he says. Icons tend to be regional: anchors, lighthouses and blue crab in the


Northeast; and turtles, seashells and palm trees in the South. “We are also seeing an uptick in pet-inspired sentiments and imagery with coastal designs,” Burdette notes. Beach Hut rolled out tie-dye mugs that can be customized with city names or shop logos that are selling. “Anything bright and colorful and still elegant draws people’s attention,” says Justin Brown, operations manager of the wholesaler that offers beach-themed snow globes, bottle openers, magnets, souvenir glassware, coolies and more. Neon green with turtles and an orangeand-blue mug that emulates the sand and sea also fly off the shelves, Brown adds.

PRIME PLACEMENT “If it’s truly an impulse product, it has to sell at checkout,” Silva says. He emphasizes that product placement is paramount for capturing last-minute sales. “We can pack a lot of merchandise into a small footprint at checkout.” Presentation can be one of the challenging parts about stocking impulse buys, Burdette


adds. “It’s easy for small items to get misplaced, unorganized and downright messy.” He recommends prepack displays that include informative signage. Whittaker dedicates an area of the checkout counter for impulse buys and has a display where customers approach the checkout space. There, she presents items for children such as build-your-own sharks and other ani-

Restock frequency can very by item. Sticker displays can last for weeks without needing to be replenished, Silva notes, whereas merchandise like T-shirts leave a visible hole after selling unless they are immediately restocked. Burdette recommends changing out products annually, especially for retailers in locations that draw the same crowd year after year. “Retailers want to have new items

“Retailers want to have new items available for customers that visited their shops last year and are looking for something new to purchase this year.” — Anthony Burdette, P. Graham Dunn mals. The cute, cardboard model sets by Eugy target kids ages five to 12 and costs $14. She refreshes impulse buys by season, stocking items like reef-safe sunscreen during summer months and jellybean easter eggs and chocolate bunnies in spring. “I also have a suggestion area next to where you check out that is geared toward holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, teacher appreciation and other special events,” says Whittaker.

available for customers that visited their shops last year and are looking for something new to purchase this year,” he says. Overall, savvy shop owners that strategically stock and present impulse buys give customers more options — and that translates to more sales. Burdette says, “Shoppers continue to seek affordable, grab-and-go gifts they can bring home following their trips to the coast.”




ids’ keepsakes and specialty clothing — layettes, lovies and learning toys — are just a handful of reasons why customers bag children’s items from Gumbo Limbo Coastal Kidz in Stuart, Florida. Owner Patty O’Connell opened the companion store to her coastal gift shop Gumbo Limbo after guests repeatedly asked her if she carried items for the younger set. “Basically, it was the request of customers saying, ‘We love your store — and we’d like to buy children’s gifts and clothing from you,” O’Connell says. Initially, she figured she’d carry items that might be gifted at a baby shower or birthday party. She carved out a curated children’s section in her gift store and her first vendor was Mud Pie. It grew from there. “Before I knew it, children’s toys and clothing were a quarter of the store, and I loved buying it — so I decided to buy more and more, and I felt like what we were doing was somewhat of a niche,” says O’Connell. Havaianas flip-flops come in trending kids’ styles.


The shops today are co-located, and guests can cross from one side to the next. “We have dedicated shoppers for both sides, and a lot of customers say it’s one-stop shopping,” she says. “And we overhear shoppers say, ‘I could spend hours in here! Where do I start?’” LITTLE LEARNERS

Speaking of where to start, the treehouse display in the center of Coastal Kidz is where many customers gravitate first. The handbuilt display (thanks to O’Connell’s husband) is stocked with an enticing array of finger puppet books, hardcover reads and toys that are educational and interactive. For example, Mud Pie offers kits like a Let’s Go Fishing backpack filled with pretend play props. “Our Mud Pie sets are soft and with young children you do not have to worry about safety,” O’Connell says. “There is a set for cooking, makeup, golfing, grocery shopping — and they are great for young play.” The shop carries Melissa & Doug toys along with Jellycat plushies. “We found that having these lines as part of our basics is important, and especially items that are coastal related,” O’Connell says, pointing to fish and octopus. “The demand is there.” When selecting books, O’Connell goes for titles that teach lessons. “We look for different themes about courage and


fulness or welcoming a new baby brother or sister — and then there are stories like ‘How to Put an Octopus to Bed,’” she says. “We have a whole spectrum, including the fun-to-read-at-night books.” One series called Little People Big Dreams is about mentors like Martin Luther King, Marie Curie — and others like Elton John and Dolly Parton. “We also like the Savannah Guthrie series and ‘Princesses Like Pants’ and we have a lot of Great Grandsen books too,” she says. Sometimes, O’Connell will spot books during her travels and track down the distributor. She discovered “Little People

Shark-themed merchandise beckons kiddos, while the co-located stores draw all ages.

theme. “Customers like the quality of the brands we carry, and that is very important because a lot of them are shopping

“Customers like the quality of the brands we carry, and that is very important because a lot of them are shopping for special occasions or want to buy items that will last and can be handed down to children and grandchildren.” – PATTY O’CONNELL Big Dreams” while at The Biltmore in Nashville. Ultimately, “giftable” is the overriding


for special occasions or want to buy items that will last and can be handed down to children and grandchildren,” she says.


Aside from quality, comfort and the cuteness factor are also key when O’Connell selects children’s products. Materials like bamboo and Pima cotton are top sellers. The shop sells Kissy Kissy layettes that are “elegant and sweet,” Mud Pie baby blankets, bibs and holiday outfits and super-soft onesies, dresses and sleepers by Magnolia Baby. Most layettes include patterns — “everything from hedgehogs to mermaids to giraffes,” O’Connell says of popular


themes. “We do a lot of holiday too, and swimwear is through the roof and sells all year, along with beach totes and goggles.” Coastal Kidz pours on some southern charm as well. Brands like The Beaufort Bonnet Co. offer lines like Christmas Night Nights, Properly Pastel and Dolly & Me. The Kickee Pants brand includes swing and twirl dresses in solids and prints, jumpers and rompers and soft knit pants that are cozy for active little ones. Clothing is organized in departments — boys on one side, girls on the other, with books and toys together. “We make it whimsical and fun. It’s not just clothing racks back to back. There are big cotton candy cones hanging from the ceilings and different colored chandeliers — we make it different and visually appealing.” A retrofitted tiki hut houses clothing, and O’Connell mostly organizes wearables by brand so customers can easily find the lines they love. Layettes are

grouped together, and seasonal/holiday wares are front and center. “Then, it’s about guiding customers and helping them,” she says. Gumbo Limbo Coastal Kidz focuses on products for newborns through size 6, and while O’Connell hates to see customers “age out,” space is limited. “It’s a whole different ballgame when you get into the older age groups where kids really have a mind of their own,” she points out. Buying for elementary and tween children can tend to be focused on pop culture and what’s “in,” from popular Netflix series to the latest movies and games, she notes. O’Connell appreciates the timelessness of the brands Coastal Kidz carries. And there’s nothing better than watching the generations shop together. “So many moms, dads and grandparents come in with their children and it’s so nice.” A treehouse centerpiece display houses books, games, toys and other items.





ngela Rosales loves overhearing the,”Wow!” reaction of surprise and joy when children enter the dedicated Kids Cove space inside her coastal store, Very Ventura Gift Shop & Gallery in Ventura, California. An undersea scene with blue waves that hang from the ceiling and vibrant green seaweed fronds brush up against slat wall displays, while a playful sign identifies the dedicated space for the young and young at heart. “The kids get that they are ‘undersea’ and they let their imaginations run wild and really enjoy the space,” says Rosales, whose husband designed and built the cove’s features. The Kids Cove is a new addition to the shop, which opened nine years ago as a gift and art gallery to showcase “our special slice of the coast.” “Ventura stays in your heart,” RoPlayful plush jellyfish hang from a children’s display on a slat wall.


sales says. People who have visited or have lived in the community maintain a special connection to the seaside city, she notes. The Kids Cove evolved out of requests from visitors. “Many of our customers are grandparents visiting family here and they want to get something for the kids, or they are going to visit family elsewhere and they want to bring a gift that is not digital.” Kids Cove began as a clothing display — and it grew from there. Kids products initially made up 5% of total sales, and today it’s closer to 15%. The department consumes about 10% of the 1,600-square-foot retail space. Rosales says, “It has expanded into some unique toys, plushies and classic gifts.” PLAY AND PURPOSE

To carve room for kids products, Rosales moved around other displays and reduced the gallery portion of her shop. However, because of the ample wall space her store provides, she can still hang art on walls to sell. “I needed the retail space instead because it’s more turnover,” she explains. A dedicated space was a priority for Rosales because it creates a store within a store feel and gives kid’s toys and apparel the attention they deserve. “If you are going to create the space, no matter the size, theme it out so it’s clearly identifiable that ‘this is kids stuff ’ and you are not just mixing kids items with

“If you are going to create the space, no matter the size, theme it out so it’s clearly identifiable that ‘this is kid’s stuff’ and you are not just mixing kids items with other merchandise.” – ANGELA ROSALES other merchandise,” she advises. “Create a space that is fun.” A specially branded Kids Cove is more than a store department at Ventura Gifts. Rosales decided to start a separate DBA for Kids Cove. “That way, it is poised for growth should I want to branch out,” she says. And with Rosales’ overall interest in children’s causes, it’s a real possibility. She recently was awarded the Downtown Ventura Rotarian of the Year award for A Kids Cove decorated in an underwater theme complements children’s products.


her work as director of Youth Services. “We aim to interact with youth and teach service above self,” she says, adding that the Rotary Club is also developing a literacy program to mentor youth to read to younger children. She is collaborating with the Ventura Unified School District to create a vision-to-marketplace curriculum. “Middle and high school students can take a product through the phases of concept, design and sales,” describes Rosales, who also was recognized as Client of the Year for Women’s Economic Ventures in her hometown for her volunteer work. “So, there are a lot of initiatives our shop supports related to youth and the community.” FINDING FAVORITES

Sourcing children’s products is simply fun for Rosales. “I love the water toys — I could play with them all day! And the toy section is fun for our employees, too.” Overall, when Rosales sources prod-


ucts, she buys with hometown customers in mind first. “I think of what I would want to wear and, ‘Would I want this decor in my house?’” she says. “To that end, we have earned a reputation of having high-quality products and a place where locals are proud to bring visitors because they trust our brand and know they can find really unique items.” The toys she sources are often eco-friendly or have a give-back component. “The other thing we notice with toys is a good sales rep can be your best friend because toy trends change quickly,” says Rosales. “A favorite toy today is not necessarily the favorite toy tomorrow. As a retailer, we have to stay on top of it and make some key partnerships to stay on the forefront.” For example, the Kids Cove includes squishy toys and Pop-its. “My rep recommended them and they are selling like hot cakes,” Rosales says. And while purchasing for kids, Rosales keeps in mind two audiences:


Themed displays organized by brand, product type and color offer something for every young guest.

grandparents looking for retro toys like kaleidoscopes and water games, and kids who are shopping for “flashy toys — the hot items for now.” Rosales focuses on coastal-themed kids’ toys and clothing and mixes in some trending items like NeeDoh toys that are described as the ultimate stress ball made of “gratifying goo.” “With clothing we really focus on

quality, such as a brand I’m carrying now called Earth Nymph,” she says of the Australian brand featuring hand-drawn graphics on T-shirts, apparel, accessories and plushies. Offering toys gives the shop “a completely different feel” in a positive way for guests and sales. “It brings a fun sense of play — and it brings out the imagination in all of us!”




hen kids walk into Hilton Head Toys bearing a Ziploc bag full of saved coins and folded up dollar bills, Lilia Mainer knows they have been anticipating a trip to the toy store. And they have the latest fidgets and goodies in mind. “Impulse toys bring them into the store, and that leads to more sales when the kids and their parents look around and shop the displays,” says Lilia Mainer, store manager of the shop, which has locations on Hilton Head Island in Harbour Town and Coligny Plaza shopping centers. Owner Scott Lee says, “Watching them wander around the store searching for and seeing different items and finding the toy they want to have for the vacation experience is really cool — especially when they’ve saved up their money from chores. They put Plush animals of all kinds are easy grabs for young children.


a whole lot of thought into it and you can see the appreciation on their faces. You know they will take care of it and enjoy it.” Hilton Head Toys stocks the shop with lots of items in the $5 to $20 range that can cater to the young “allowance money” crowd. And the longtime shop — it opened 47 years ago and Lee is the fourth owner — carries trendy toys like Spikeballs and Neoballs, popular brands like LEGO and Playmobil, and classics like puzzles, plushies, books, dolls and trinkets. Every year, Hilton Head Toys changes out 40% of its inventory to keep the shelves fresh and full of the latest items. And the shop’s offerings span all age groups. “We keep puzzles and board games, and we have mugs and tumblers at the register for parents because when they’re buying for their kids, they see those and it results in another sale,” say Lee and Mainer. They are literally in the fun business. And the two toy stores complement Lee’s eight other shops, which include a candy store, coffee shop, casual apparel, surf shop and a jerky/popcorn store, all located in Beaufort, South Carolina. A TOY TREASURE TROVE

When selecting products to sell at Hilton Head Toys, store management considers all the variables. For instance, if vacationers’ cars are jam-packed with luggage, there won’t be room


for super-sized stuffed animals. And if it’s a rainy day on the beach, families are looking for a way to enjoy their time indoors until the weather breaks. “We have toys and games for long car rides that are appropriate for travel,” Lee says. Beach toys are popular for all ages — games like Surfer Dudes, Bucketball,

Spincopter and Tiki Toss. Plus, there are plenty of sandcastle building supplies like buckets, shovels and molds. For younger kids, “the more gross it is, the more they like it,” he says of slime and anything that has the word “poop” on the packaging. Fidget toys are fast sellers like Pop-its or squishy balls. “They love to squeeze them and there are different textures and colors,” says Lee. Mainer says the silicon and BPA-free Muggies that are nonbreakable are popular among parents, and so are fidget toys in the $6.99 to $12.99 range that can keep kids busy on flights, car rides and in restaurants. “They’re looking for items to keep their kids busy,” she says. Fidget toys have been on a roll for the past couple of Enticing round display shelves allow kids to see and choose.


years, with 2022’s hottest buys being pop fidgets and “anything squishy,” Mainer adds. “We always reach out to vendors to see what is on trend.” Hilton Head Toys’ wide selection of known brands like Mattel, Melissa & Doug, Calico Critter and Barbie have universal appeal. “Our movie-themed toys change out every year,” Lee says. But staples that stay the same are items like beach frisbees, balls, goggles, rafts and other water toys. Last-minute purchases are key, and a low price point with positioning by the cash register make “little things” an easy grab-and-go sale. “We have little rings, tattoos — small items, and we also stock soft drinks in that area that can focus on the teenager or an adult that is shopping with a child.” CARRYING WHAT’S HOT

Hilton Head Toys does 80% of its business during the summer months, so Lee plans and refreshes inventory accord-


ingly. In January, he attends the International Toy Show in New York City with a goal to completely change out up to 40% of his kids’ products to ramp up for the busy season. Then in late July or early August, Lee stops ordering new toys to display. “We let it sell down through the fall and go down to a smaller inventory in the winter because there are not tons of children on Hilton Head at that time,” he explains. “So, we put stuff on sale in the winter and move it out, which allows us to get the inventory down so we can refresh come springtime.” Lee consults with wholesalers to find out what’s trending. “It’s a big shopping spree and we go vendor by vendor, relying on them to know what the trends are going to be because they’ve done test trials on what will be hot so that helps us make decisions,” he says. “Our store managers have kids — one has a teenager, one has a 7-year-old daughter and one has a baby — so we

cover the whole spectrum,” Lee says. The store is structured with themed displays. “We have an area where it’s all about the water and sections for family games, stuffed animals, building like LEGOs or Playmobil, dolls and so on,” says Lee. “By putting similar toys in a section, it’s easy for kids to find what they are looking for and see the choices. For example, all of our Mattel cars and trucks are in the same zone.” Mainer adds, “The companies do a good job of offering colorful displays that promote their products.” Overall, toys round out the bigpicture business mix for Lee, and he’s always looking for ways to enhance the offering. For instance, Hilton Head Toys recently added the Lowcountry Balloon Boutique to its services, which includes balloon bouquets, table toppers and other arrangements. This gives island visitors a source for party decorations and is a reason for year-round residents to stop in the shop during the offseason.

Toys and goodies at a range of price points offer something for every budget and age.

For Lee and his family, the stores in their portfolio that cater to coastal visitors are a tradition the younger generation will continue. “Our intention is, we are in it for the long-term, and our kids will take over when we get ready to retire and they are at the beginning of their careers,” says Lee, adding that the toy stores bring a special kind of joy. “The best part is seeing kids here on vacation and you know they’ve been thinking about taking home a fun souvenir.”




Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show



Nov. 1-3 Atlanta International Fall Cash & Carry Atlanta, Georgia

Dec. 4-7 Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Nov. 2-3 TMC-The Merchandise Center Chicago & Schiller Park, Illinois

Dec. 6-7 TMC-The Merchandise Center Chicago & Schiller Park, Illinois

Nov. 2-3 Midwest Market Days Chicago River Grove, Illinois

Dec. 6-7 Midwest Market Days Chicago River Grove, Illinois

Nov. 8-12 IGES Pigeon Forge & Sevierville, Tennessee


Nov. 9-10 Mid-Atlantic Merchandise Mart Philadelphia Nov. 9-2 Smoky Mountain Gift Show Gatlinburg, Tennessee Nov. 18-20 Norton’s Gatlinburg Apparel, Jewelry & Gift Show Gatlinburg, Tennessee

JANUARY Jan. 4-10 Dallas Total Home & Gift Market Dallas Jan. 4-6 Surf Expo Orlando, Florida Jan. 5-6 The ASI Show Orlando, Florida



Jan. 10-13 Dallas Apparel & Accessories Dallas

Jan. 18-20 Alaska Wholesale Gift Show Anchorage, Alaska

Jan. 10-15 Atlanta Market Atlanta, Georgia

Jan. 19-23 Miami Beach Antique Show Miami Beach, Florida www.originalmiamibeach

Jan. 15-17 NRF Retail’s Big Show New York City Jan. 16-17 Midwest Market Days Chicago River Grove, Illinois Jan. 16-19 CMC LA Market Week / Kids Market Los Angeles Jan. 16-20 LA Mart Gift + Home Los Angeles Jan. 17-18 Active Collective Huntington Beach, California Jan. 17 TMC-The Merchandise Center Chicago & Schiller Park, Illinois

Jan. 20-22 Impressions Expo Long Beach, California Jan. 22-23 Northstar Fashion Exhibitors St Paul, Minnesota Jan. 23-25 The ASI Show Fort Worth, Texas Jan. 22-24 Coastal Connections Conference Orlando, Florida www.coastalconnections Jan. 25-26 Active Collective New York City www.newyork.activewear


JAN. 22-24

Coastal Connections Conference



Coastal Connections Conference covers buying strategies Attendees of the Coastal Connections Conference, Jan. 22-24, 2023, at the Margaritaville Resort Orlando, will have the opportunity to learn buying strategies from the industry’s top trade shows and consultants. During a session titled, “Effective Buying Strategies,” taking place Sunday, Jan. 22, from 4:45 to 6 p.m., Cindy Henry, vice president buyer services, International Market Centers; Lisa Berry (Glosson), vice president gift and souvenir division, Clarion Events; and Dane Cohen, business development manager, Management One, will share their best advice for navigating trade shows like a pro. Attendees will learn how to effectively work with vendors and brands to keep their store stocked with product even during busy times and shipping challenges. Henry leads the team that is responsible for bringing retailers to all IMC markets: Atlanta Market, Atlanta Apparel, High Point Market, Las Vegas Market, Las Vegas Apparel Market and JuniperMarket, IMC’s new online marketplace. As vice president of buyer services, she leads the team responsible for all buyers, including key accounts, buying groups and JuniperMarket. Berry oversees strategy, branding, market positioning and overall growth direction for Clarion Events’ gift and souvenir portfolio, which includes the Las Vegas Souvenir and


Connections CONFERENCE

Resort Gift Show, Smoky Mountain Gift Show, Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Philadelphia Gift Lisa Berry Show, The Gathering and The Gathering West. Cohen brings more than a decade of experience in the fashion, wholesale and retail industry to his Dane Cohen role. Cohen is excited to work with retailers and strategic partners to grow the Management One network and help strengthen independent and Cindy Henry family-owned retail businesses. As business development manager, his diverse background in leading sales and retail teams, brand marketing, events and merchandising provides him a unique and informed perspective for clients. Cathy Donovan Wagner, keynote speaker and founder of retail consulting firm RetailMavens will moderate the session.

Visit for more information about the Coastal Connections Conference, including speakers and session topics.

Atlanta Apparel boasts strong orders

The October Atlanta Apparel market, Oct. 11-15, at AmericasMart Atlanta, provided the first opportunity for buyers to source spring/summer 2023 fashions and place final orders for winter and the holidays. “Atlanta Apparel exhibitors brought the spring/ summer heat to Atlanta this October, and popular lines across contemporary, footwear and resort categories were in high demand all week long,” says Caron Stover, International Market Centers senior vice president, apparel. Atlanta Apparel presented 350-plus permanent showrooms and 300-plus temporary exhibits. October market attendees traveled to Atlanta Exhibiting brand Love and Apparel from 41 states and three U.S. territories, along Bikinis showed new releases. with six international countries. More than 27% of the buyers were new to the market, and a high percentage of attendees hailed from the Southeast. The next Atlanta Apparel Market is Jan. 31–Feb. 4, 2023.



Industry shows earn awards from Trade Show Executive

Trade Show Executive’s Gold 100 Awards recognize the top trade shows held in the U.S. and offer associations and independent show organizers an opportunity to highlight their achievements. The summit is a celebration of the winners as well as the industry’s robust recovery.

Left to right: Caron Stover, SVP, apparel; Jennifer Muna, VP of market operations; Priscila Gilburg, VP of tradeshow sales for Las Vegas Market; and Marie Knight, VP of tradeshow sales for Atlanta Market.

IMC earns awards for markets and a “Women to Watch.” International Market

Centers (IMC) has received eight Trade Show Executive Gold 100 Awards, recognizing Atlanta Apparel, Atlanta Market and Las Vegas Market among the 100 largest trade shows of 2021. Additionally, Jennifer Muna, IMC’s vice president of market operations, was named as one of Trade Show Executive’s “Women to Watch” for 2022. “IMC is honored that eight of its events were among the nation’s largest 100 trade shows in 2021, a year in which the exposition industry was focused primarily on recovery,” said Bob Maricich, IMC CEO. “These awards reflect the resilience of the industries served by IMC’s markets, as well as the overall strength of the trade show industry.” Eight of the 23 buying events produced by IMC in 2021 were recognized as being among the nation’s largest. IMC’s award-winning events were: The winter and summer 2021 editions of Atlanta Market; the summer 2021 edition of Las Vegas Market; and the February, April, June, August and October 2021 editions of Atlanta Apparel. Atlanta Market is the industry’s premier gift, decor and lifestyle market. Housing the nation’s largest gift product mix complemented by a broad selection of home decor, it features more than 8,000 brands across all categories. Atlanta Market attracts retailers and designers from every U.S. state and more than 60 countries. Las Vegas Market is the leading home furnishings and gift market in the western U.S., presenting thousands of furniture, home 92 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022

decor and gift resources in an unrivaled market destination. Las Vegas Market’s diverse product offerings allow for cross-category commerce among these industries. The Las Vegas Market runs semi-annually at World Market Center Las Vegas. Atlanta Apparel’s eight yearly markets feature the latest looks in contemporary, young contemporary, fashion accessories and more, plus specialty categories such as children's, plus-size, bridal and social occasions. Atlanta Apparel markets are held at AmericasMart Atlanta. Jennifer Muna, IMC vice president of market operations, was recognized as one of Trade Show Executive’s eight “Women to Watch,” a program which recognizes and encourages the next generation of female leaders in the trade show industry. Muna is responsible for the overall management, business activities, strategies, leadership, oversight and overall direction for event management, exhibitor services, guest services, and contract partners for IMC’s expo at World Market Center Las Vegas. Three Clarion shows recognized. Three

shows in the Clarion Events gift and souvenir portfolio were recognized at Trade Show Executive’s Gold 100 Awards & Summit, which recognized 2021 events that set the gold standard for trade shows. The Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show, Smoky Mountain Gift Show and Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show were included as part of the 2021 Gold 100 list. The prestigious Gold 100 salutes and spotlights exceptional shows, particularly those that took place in a tumultuous 2021. This year's event took place at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, in Santa Barbara, Sept. 21-23. Lisa Berry (Glosson), vice president of the Clarion Events Gift & Souvenir portfolio says, “A huge congratulations to our team! This would not have been possible without your hard work and diligence to create events that serve the gift and souvenir community — especially in a year that threw obstacles at us each day. I also want to thank our attendees, exhibitors and entire gift and souvenir family for all their support and ongoing feedback to help us evolve and grow the events.”


Surf Expo draws enthusiastic buyers Surf Expo, the premier watersports and coastal lifestyle tradeshow, wrapped up its September 8-10, 2022, edition bringing together more than 7,400 industry professionals in Orlando, Florida. “With each edition of Surf Expo since the pandemic, we continue to see retailer attendance increasing, and this show was a continuance of that with a 16% increase year over year,” said Roy Turner, Surf Expo senior vice president and show director. “We drew retailers from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, St. John and the surrounding Caribbean, who had not attended since the pandemic. Buyers and brands alike were glad to be back at Surf Expo and getting back to normal.” This year’s event featured an 18% increase in square footage compared to the previous September show with more than 645 exhibitors, including 150-plus new brands to the show. Notable new brands on the floor included Bartolo Beachwear, Benson, Carver Skateboards, Chasefire Outdoor, Duck Camp, Guy Fox California, Hang Loose Bands, Imago Portugal, iROCKER SUP, JBAY. ZONE, Johnny Fly, Lake Label, LaTAN Swim, Marine Layer, Martha, Mono Wakesurf, OneOne Swimwear, Phoozy, Puffin Coolers, Roostas, Saint Maddox, Salty Home, Seatec Outfitters, Sea & Grass, SMKFLWR, The Wave Hut and Trippy Outdoor. Kathy Wilkie, senior buyer relations manager for the show’s Coastal Life section, which includes swim, boutique, resort, coastal gift, footwear and souvenir, says for many buyers it was their first show since the pandemic began. And others who had attended during the height of the pandemic “were excited to see a very full floor at Surf Expo.” “The Surf show has been excellent. The energy is up, people are out. There are a lot of great buyers and a lot of return people who’ve been able to get their businesses going again so it’s been a lot of fun,” said John Gallagher of exhibiting jewelry company Jackie Gallagher Designs. With the last couple years having shows affected by hurricanes and COVID, exhibitor Jeanette Speenburgh, executive vice president of the apparel brand Buddy by the Sea, was cautiously optimistic about the September show. “I think everyone was hoping for the best, and it really did turn out to be a great turnout. I felt like Surf was back,” she said. “I am feeling a lot more confident going into 2023 and going into the rest of the show season. Hopefully they are all going to be as strong as this.” “The show has been really strong,” said Alan Clancy, national sales manager, Ocean Jewelry. “Our product has been well accepted. We’ve had lots of existing customers coming back and widening their range. And new customers are taking the range on board.” Surf Expo returns Jan. 4-6, 2023, to the Orange County Convention Center’s West Concourse in Orlando, Florida.



Smoky Mountain Gift Show IGES Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show

1 3

1. Aspen & Salt: Freshwater Pearl Lariat. GS: 1706 2. Bags By Bruno: Eco-friendly custom reusable tote bags. GS: 538 3. Brass Reminders: Style 581 Night Dolphin. Thousands of beach designs, free namedrop. SM: 411; GS: 236 4. Buddy by the Sea: Rainbow Stripe on natural tote bag available in six unique designs and colors. GS: 2101




5. Cape Shore: Wood Slice with Bear resin ornament. IG: 6041


6. Cliff Weil Inc.: Islander Eyes Cyprus polarized sunglasses. GS: 916 7. Cruz Accessories: Rose gold mother of pearl or abalone inlay sea turtle necklace. SM: 1218; GS: 434-438

7 8

8. Daisy Mae Designs: Custom map pillow. IG: 2223


9. Fancy That Gift & Decor: 15-by-10inch Resin Mermaid Fountain. SM: 1842; GS: 622 10. FunDog Bandanas: It’s Treat-OClock Somewhere dog bandana for medium to large dogs. IG: 8306 11. HeadLimes: Shark Edition clip-on lime squeezer. IG: 3207




12. HS Seashells: Large Mermaid Metal & Capiz Chime, 21-by-11-inches (sku #7130). GS: 200 13. Impulse Souvenirs: Direct-togarment printed tees that should be part of any destination collection. SM: 210; GS: 401





14. It’s The Beach: UPF 50 recycled material performance shirt. GS: 412 15. Jackie Gallagher Designs: Sterling Silver Hooked on You pendant. GS: 227




16. Kurt Adler Co: 4-inch Whimsical Green Sea Turtle ornaments. SM: 3523 17. Mermaid of Hilton Head: Shark Candle with real shark teeth. GS: 1807 wholesale 18. Mutual Sales: Beach Mania instant pop-up shelter. GS: 1800

17 18

19. Pet Souvenirs: Destination-themed dog and kitty toys. IG: 8001 20. Pumpernickel Press: Garden Buzz (80692) - USA-made on premium eco-friendly paper. SM: 3524; GS: 1026


21. SJT Enterprises, Inc.: Destination bottle opener surfboard plaque. IG: 6636; GS: 836


22. Steamboat Sticker: Highest quality, best designed and most durable stickers. SM: 3226; GS: 2108



23. The Beach and Back: Wave bracelet - gold tone bangle, aqua wave. GS: 815



24. The Petting Zoo: Boho Mermaid with Friends. IG: 6315; 2305; GS: 100


25. Town Pride: Customized embroidered cotton sweaters. IG: 2215 26. True Ocean: True Ocean Body Spray - fine fragrance mist. GS: 705

26 27


27. What The Fin: Happy Hour performance shirt. GS: 308 28. Xplorer Maps: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Top 5 Collection. SM: 4410



Beach Town: A Novel

These page-turners will make book worms out of beach lovers of all ages!

As a movie location scout, picture-perfect is the name of the game. But her last project literally went up in flames, and her career is on the verge of flaming out. Greer Hennessy has been given one more chance, if she can find the perfect undiscovered beach hideaway for a big-budget movie. She zeros in on a sleepy Florida town called Cypress Key. Told with inimitable heart and humor, Mary Kay Andrews’ Beach Town tells the story of a perfect summer destination.

for the little


Author: Mary Kay Andrews Website:

Beach Stones

Walking along the water's edge, who among us has not stopped to admire the evocatively patterned, shaped and multihued stones that beckon? Fun to collect and free for the taking, beach stones are objects of contemplation, beauty and sentiment. This exquisite volume — at once a gorgeous art book and a nature guide — presents more than 200 exceptional stones from around the world and describes the fascinating natural processes that produced them. Art lovers and beachcombing spirits everywhere will cherish this gift book. Author: Josie Iselin and Margaret W. Carruthers Website:

You Are My Sparkly Mermaid

Make some waves with this magical mermaid board book, complete with a sparkly glitter cover. A wondrous celebration of the sparkly magic in every child from today’s preeminent board and picture book creator. Author: Joyce Wan Website:

50 Things to Do at the Beach

Transform a day in the sand and sun into a meaningful and truly inspiring return to nature. Environmental scientist and professional surfer Easkey Britton teaches us to peek into the mysterious deep, harness the calming nature of the sea and engage in fun play, like wave running and swimming. Enjoy the health benefits of the sea and give back to the waters that sustain us. Author: Easkey Britton Website:

Wish I was Here: The World’s Most Extraordinary Places On and Beyond the Seashore

Micronesia, Hawaii, Polynesia, Bora Bora, Seychelles, Maldives, Australia — where does the mind go when imagining such places? Drawn from the best travel blogs and Instagram images, this book brings together the most beautiful locations near, on, or under water. From eco-resorts to remote, pristine islands; from sailing on ultra-blue oceans to diving in translucent waters; in aerial and underwater photography, the focus is on finding paradise. Whether thinking about a trip or longing for sun and sand, this book is where those daydreams begin. Author: Sebastiaan Bedaux Website:


Good Night Dolphins

Young marine biologists will adore this charming and educational board book as they explore the fascinating world of dolphins, including unique facts. Part of the bestselling Good Night Our World series. Author: Adam Gamble and Mark Jasper Website:


Think through the possible problems that may exist. Ask the question, “How could it have happened?” and brainstorm with your team. FIGURE OUT WHY


f you are in retail, the end of the year means it is inventory time. The number one thing to do before inventory starts is to talk to your staff about how important it is to get an accurate number. Explain to them how it affects their job because if the number is wrong it impacts the store’s ability to serve customers. How do they feel when they tell a customer that an item is in stock and then it can’t be found on the floor? Ask them to give other examples about how an incorrect number can have far reaching consequences. You and I know that it also has a big impact on profitability, but that isn’t how it impacts your staff first.


Once the count is done, the inventory variances must be dealt with. How much is too much? Here is the math: The amount you should have less the amount you count divided by the amount you should have multiplied by 100 should be less than 5%. For example: $50,000 (should have) minus $47,000 (actual amount) divided by $50,000 equals 0.06 multiplied by 100 equals 6%. You can also review it in the context of sales. Inventory variance should be less than 1.5% of sales. Take the difference in calculated vs. actual and divide it by the sales for the period between inventories. Review for errors and double check any data that concerns you.


Once you’ve identified likely causes for variances, you can set goals to fix them with tools and processes. If theft is an issue, installing security cameras and educating your team can be helpful. For other issues make sure your training manual includes processes for proper checkout and inventory handling. REPEAT

Then, plan your next inventory! If your variance is 5% or less, once a year might be enough for you. If it’s higher, take inventory more frequently while implementing changes, so you can make sure they are making a difference.

CATHY DONOVAN WAGNER guides retailers to more profit, better sleep and living a life they love through group and private coaching programs, speaking events and a thriving online community. She is the 2023 Coastal Connections Conference keynote speaker. She can be reached at or 98 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022



If your physical count is greater than the computer’s number, there could be a systems problem. Items may have been moved to other categories, etc. If your physical count is less than the computer’s number, your biggest concern is theft (also called shrink) or loss for another reason. Don’t assume loss until you have looked at the department/ summary variance to get the total actual deviations. It could just be that something was transferred incorrectly and that the total number is good. Other than theft, loss can occur through poor accounting procedures, employee training issues, a poor process for counting inventory, improperly handled vendor returns or owner purchases. Think through the possible problems that may exist. Ask the question, “How could it have happened?” and brainstorm with your team.


On our radar Looking for something new to offer? Here are some fresh ideas.

Dune Jewelry & Co. This bottle stopper with beach sand and turquoise is perfect for your favorite wine, olive oil or sparkling concoction.

Lisart Unique, hand-created shadowboxed sea glass whimsies add a fun flair to any coastal ensemble.

Mr. Ellie Pooh Eco-friendly blue dolphin notebook is made from 30% fiber from elephant dung and 70% recycled fiber.

Daisy Mae Designs Canvas tote features a vintage postcard on both sides, ideal for your next shopping adventure or day trip.

Wild Delights A blissful blend of Florida springs, seagrass and citrus combine in this paint can soy candle.

Stonewall Kitchen Add a delicious snap of flavor with horseradish, a little lemon and just the right seasonings for a shrimp cocktail.

North Swell Ocean lovers and outdoor enthusiasts can sport this comfy Kraken tee in a variety of colors, including Banana.

Nica Life Pink and Teal Bracelet Stack helps provide a fair wage for artisans and funds education in Nicaragua.

MacKenzie’s Hand Scrub is a master blend of scouring walnut husks, cleansing soap and deodorizing lemon essential oil.

Have a product you would like featured? Send a high-resolution image and description to:








AD I N D E X A to Z Towels/Dohler Distributor – A.C. Burroughs Wholesale – A.T. Storrs Ltd. – 47 American Style Sunglasses – Annapolis Candle – Aspen & Salt – Atlanta Market – Bags by Bruno – Bali Queen – 13 Bamboo Source Tropical Decor – 15 Bara Boheme – Beach Biscuit – 5 Beach Memories Jewelry – 75 Beachables – Beaver Dam Woodworks – Blue Iguana Sustainable – Brass Reminders – 2 Buddy by the Sea – Caloosa WaterWear – Cape Shore – Cliff Weil – 70 CoTZ Skincare – 23 Cruz Accessories – Daisy Mae Designs – Destination Jewelry – Dolphin Wood House Soaps – Drinking Straws Glass – Dune Jewelry & Co. – 22 Fancy That Gift & Decor – 61 Fanema Cutlery – 101 Fin Pin Shop – First & Main – 31 Flopeeze International USA Inc. – Foterra Jewelry – 101 FunDog Bandanas – GCI Outdoor – Gift for Life – Grand Strand Gift and Resort Merchandise Show – 91 Hang Loose Bands – 101 HeadLimes LLC – 52 HS Seashells – 7 Impulse Souvenirs – 107 It’s the Beach – 76 Jackie Gallagher Designs – Jan Bixler Resort & Gifts......................................................................................... 101 JD Yeatts/Chesapeake Bay – 81 Joseph K. & Co. LLC – Julio Designs – Key West Gear – Kurt S. Adler – 3

Lake and Coast – Lani Lau Hawaii – 76 Laura Kelly Designs – Lighthouse Keeper’s Pantry – Mermaid of Hilton Head – 79 Middle Sister Jewelry – Mutual Sales – Nau-T-Girl Jewelry – Nautically Northern – Northern Tides Studio – Oak & Olive – Ocean Jewelry – Ocean Sole – 70 Ocean World Imports – P. Graham Dunn – 21 Paige’s Paracord – Patsy Kane – Patti Biggs – Pet Souvenirs – Powder Pouch – 67 Pumpernickel Press – 27 Riviera Towel Co. – Saltwater Born – Sea Lark Enterprises – Seaside Retailer magazine – Shaka Love – 52 Shark Off – ShipShapeStyles – SJT Enterprises – Smoky Mountain Gift Show – Steamboat Sticker – Sugared Mango – Surf Expo – 97 T. Jazelle Boutique – 41 The Admiral’s Daughters – 87 The Beach and Back – ........................................86 The Cottonseed Marketplace – 57 The Grecian Soap Co. – The Petting Zoo – The Wellington Michael Collection – 77 Tormenter Ocean – Town Pride – 53 TownWear – True Ocean – Tula Blue – 12 Turtle Tracks Family – Virtu Made – Weekend Threads – What the Fin Apparel – 28-29 Wheeler Manufacturing – Xplorer Maps –

Subscribe today! Seaside Retailer is the only magazine dedicated to beach, coastal and nautical retailers.

IT’S FAST, IT’S EASY, AND IT’S FREE! To sign up for your FREE subscription, visit: 104 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022


Winner: Cool as a Moose Location: Bar Harbor, Maine Owners: Ben Dunbar and Kip Stone





Peace, love and giving back

“We only exist because of the communities we are in and it’s important for us to support the people who live here year-round so they can keep doing what they do.” — Ben Dunbar

Peace, love and Cool as a Moose is a way of life and doing business for owners Ben Dunbar and Kip Stone. The T-shirt design and gift shop business supports communities where it has stores. “They support us in business so we thought, ‘Maybe there is a way we can give something back to those who really show up for us,’” says Dunbar. Cool as a Moose has raised more than $25,000 for EqualityMaine since it started its annual “round up” initiative eight years ago. EqualityMaine is the state’s oldest and largest statewide organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society for the LGBTQ+ community. It organizes educational and advocacy efforts, while also collaborating with progressive groups to provide programming. Customers can choose to throw in extra change to bring their order up to a whole dollar amount or add a donation to EqualityMaine at checkout. “We reached out to them because we were aware of all they do in Maine — and their work aligns with our mission of peace, love and Cool as a Moose,” says Dunbar. CARING IN THE COMMUNITY

“We always found that people from all walks of life come into our stores, and we identified fairly quickly that the LGBTQ+ community really enjoyed what we were doing and are supporting us in business,” Dunbar says. “So we thought maybe we could do something to give back.” A desire to spread good vibes is something customers have in common. This year, Cool as a Moose raised $6,000 for EqualityMaine. At its newest store in Provincetown, Massachusetts, check-out donations benefit Family Equality’s Family Week, the largest annual gathering of LGBTQ+ families in the world. “Similar to EqualityMaine, they go to bat for LGBTQ rights,” Dunbar says. SPREADING THE LOVE

Hermie the moose is the iconic mascot for Cool as a Moose, spreading peace, love and a commitment to giving back.


If a customer has an idea, Dunbar and his team are all ears — or should we say, antlers? Aside from EqualityMaine and Family Equality, the store supports Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick (Maine) and the local Alzheimer’s Association. “Any time there is a silent auction at a school, we will donate,” Dunbar adds. Just as the brand aims to provide long-lasting products — “we want it to last forever”— making a positive, lasting impression on the community is a priority, too.

Starfish Awards recognize retail stores in our industry that are making a difference through charitable donations and efforts. Is your store worthy of an award? We’d love to hear from you! Complete an entry form at