Seaside Retailer - November/December 2023

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seaside retailer B E A CH | CO ASTAL | NAUTICAL

THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR BEACH, COASTAL AND NAUTICAL RETAILERS | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Something FOR EVERYONE CO

42 Hot kid’s products 56 Coastal entertaining ideas 66 Samples that help sell

Ch N ec FE k R Co ou E nf t o NC er ur E en C ce oa HI w sta GH ra l p- Co LI up nn G , p ec H . 2 tio TS 8 n ! s

+ Inside:

Visitors and locals to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, are always welcome at Beachology and Happynest where coastal and inspirational merchandise has everyone leaving a little happier.




CONTENTS

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023 | VOLUME 4 | ISSUE 6

In Every Issue 6

EDITOR’S NOTE Personal connections help businesses thrive.

8

RETAIL NEWS New storefronts and jewelry partnerships.

14

TAKING STOCK Tips for setting PAR levels.

16

CUSTOMERS COUNT What motivates your team?

86

EVENTS CALENDAR Make plans to attend these future industry events.

88 92

EVENTS COVERAGE Coverage from past and upcoming industry shows.

18

RETAILER REFLECTIONS How to get and keep new customers.

94

PRODUCT SHOWCASE Fresh merchandise ideas for your seaside store.

96

AD INDEX Easily locate an advertiser’s ad and website.

Find out what it’s like to manage cave stores in the Coastal Connection section.

PAGE 74

Features Cover Story: Something for everyone ..................................18 Visitors and locals are always welcome at Beachology.

Sustainability Q&A with Rochelle Lynn ..............................52 SSA Group embraces environmentally friendly practices.

Keeping the connections going ........................................... 28 Takeaways from the second Coastal Connections Conference.

Style Trend: Serving up beach memories........................... 56 Coastal entertaining trends are beachy, but minimalistic.

Product Focus: Scoring points with the kids ..................... 42 Make children smile with toys, souvenirs and apparel.

Presentation: Try it, then buy it ........................................... 66 Offering samples is an easy and fun way to boost sales.

28

42

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STARFISH AWARD: TICKLED PINK. Shopping with a purpose is a tagline for this coastal retailer.

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EDITOR’S NOTE

Karen Carr Publisher & Creative Director karen@breakwallpublishing.com 330-591-2575

I enjoyed meeting all of you and look forward to staying in touch with you through the pages of Seaside Retailer until we can meet face-to-face again.

Kristin Ely Executive Editor & Conference Director kristin@breakwallpublishing.com 858-684-7744 Katie Turner Business Development Manager katie@breakwallpublishing.com 219-206-1140 Megan Smalley Associate Editor megan@breakwallpublishing.com 330-576-9338

In-person inspiration I love that we live in a world where we can enjoy the modern conveniences of online shopping,

same-day delivery and virtual meetings just as much as the next person. But every so often it is important to get up off of the couch, pack a bag, go out into the world and be an active member of society. As a seaside retailer who operates a brick-and-mortar store, you rely on that need for personal connections for your businesses to thrive. You know that people who visit your beach destination want a stellar shopping experience where they can try on or sample a product before they buy it. They didn’t go on vacation so they could return home and order a keepsake from you online. They want to touch, feel and experience products in store and decide to take them home with them then and there. The same thing is true when it comes to improving your business. Nothing compares with being in the same location as retail experts, coastal retailers and wholesalers. It’s the best way I can think of for a seaside retailer to gain the advice and tools to run their businesses better because they are hearing it in person from people who have experience on the topic or come from a similar retail background. The October Coastal Connections Conference provided that exact opportunity. More than a dozen speakers with various backgrounds in retail shared their expertise in inventory management, employee retention, building relationships, social media, experiential retail, visual merchandising and more. I had so many people approach me during the conference and tell me they have been in retail for decades and still took so many notes and had so many takeaways from the event that they were going to implement in their stores. That tells me that a conference like the Coastal Connections Conference is critically important for our industry and its future success. You can read more about that conference in the article, “Keeping the connections going,” on p. 28. Throughout the year we will provide more in-depth coverage from individual sessions that took place. This will give you a further glimpse into how the Coastal Connections Conference provides retailers with new ideas and suggestions that can help them increase traffic and profits. I hope reading these articles will help you further your business and understand how attending the event can help you elevate your retail operation. To those who did make the journey to Orlando this October, thank you for supporting this important educational and buying event designed to help strengthen retail businesses and connections in our industry. I enjoyed meeting all of you and look forward to staying in touch with you through the pages of Seaside Retailer until we can meet face-to-face again. We hope to share the exciting details of the next Coastal Connections Conference with you soon!

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Christine Schaffran Associate Editor christine@breakwallpublishing.com 216-272-7700 Larry White Marketing Director larry@breakwallpublishing.com 610-324-2100 Jamie Winebrenner Sales Manager jamie@breakwallpublishing.com 330-269-5875 Debby Clarke Ad Production Coordinator & Graphic Designer debby@breakwallpublishing.com 856-816-6346 Hanna Meussling Accounts Receivable accounting@breakwallpublishing.com 330-368-2047 Tom Borg Columnist tom@tomborg.com Michael Hale Columnist michael@retail-rehab.com Cathy Donovan Wagner Columnist cathy@retailmavens.com Seaside Retailer is published six time a year by: Breakwall Publishing LLC, 3593 Medina Rd. #117, Medina, OH 44256 Subscriptions and address changes: Seaside Retailer magazine, P.O. Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834 subscriptions@breakwallpublishing.com Entire contents copyright 2023 Breakwall Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

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R E TAI L N E W S

Sandal Factory expands to North Carolina When Sandal Factory opened for business in July 1990, the retailer focused on polarized sunglasses and premium sandals from brands such as Birkenstock, Mephisto and Naot for customers at its original store in Islamorada, Florida. Over the years, customers began requesting other name-brand sandals, footwear and apparel. The retailer also expanded its merchandise selection, adding swimsuits, towels, jewelry, candy, name-brand sunglasses and other souvenirs. The business grew to 11 storefronts across Florida until Hurricane Ian washed two locations away in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. However, Sandal Factory owners Shawn Tolley and Marty Austin didn’t let the loss of those stores hold them back from expanding into new territory in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, an area they have visited annually since they were kids. “Owners Shawn and Marty grew up together. They are one big family-oriented business where the owners basically have known each other forever,” explains Sarah Newsom, general manager of Sandal Factory’s new Emerald Isle store. “Marty and his family own a house locally, so they are acquainted with this area and know quite a few people here.” Newsom joined Sandal Factory in May as the retailer opened its Emerald Isle store. She says the Emerald Isle store is about 1,800 square feet and customers love that the shop offers high-quality merchandise and souvenirs. According to Newsom, Tolley and Austin are planning to open another store in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, in the first half of 2024. The retailer plans to start work on its next North Carolina storefront in January 2024, with the goal of opening by spring. Newsom says the Atlantic Beach location will be housed in a 6,500-square-foot building, making it much larger than the Emerald Isle store. She will serve as a general manager of both Sandal Factory locations in North Carolina. She says she is hopeful to see growth at both shops in the New Year.

The Spot Coastal Gifts & More opens as a coastal retailer in Port O’Connor, Texas When Jay Soule moved to Port O’Connor, Texas, almost two years ago, he noticed that the coastal town did not have many gift shops or souvenir stores. So, when he saw a small art studio for rent in town earlier this year, he decided he would take the leap and turn it into a small coastal gift shop for Port O’Connor he has named The Spot Coastal Gifts & More. Soule plans to use the shop to sell coastal souvenirs such as T-shirts, beach hats and sunglasses. He also wants to sell some of his own artwork, crafted cornhole boards and apparel from What The Fin, Jason Mathias Studios and Truchador. Over the past few months, Soule worked to refinish and paint the studio shop on the corner of 15th and Adams in Port O’Connor to give it a coastal vibe. He says he hung an old surfboard on one of the walls, lined palapa along the ceiling and added LED lights to make the location retail friendly. Soule also has been busy packing the 400-square-foot shop with coastal gifts and souvenirs. Soule says he had a soft opening of the shop in November. “I’m opening in the off-season, which gives me the opportunity to prepare for the big season, for spring,” he says. Soule says he hopes to use the quiet launch to see what products are popular with customers to prep for the busier seasons. 8 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

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R E TAI L N E W S

Melissa Lew forms partnership with One Tree Planted

Wild Republic founder receives Champion of Sustainability award

Melissa Lew, a wholesale company offering handmade, eco-friendly jewelry inspired by adventure, natural wonders, flora and fauna, has partnered with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit focused on global reforestation efforts. For every piece of jewelry purchased, Melissa Lew will plant one tree. “Sustainability is important for me — each piece is consciously handmade from a variety of eco-friendly materials,” says Melissa Lew, founder and designer. Pieces are also made to order/small batches to ensure less waste. “My new eco-friendly packaging is compact, printed on recycled stock with earth friendly inks, and is zero plastic. I wanted to take this one step further by partnering with One Tree Planted, truly making them gifts that give back,” adds Lew. As a donor to One Tree Planted, Lew says she can pick projects she wants to contribute to. She says, “One Tree Planted has projects throughout the world. There are ocean-specific projects like planting mangroves, so it is exciting to be part of something like that.”

Wild Republic, an international toy company, has announced that its founder, G.B. Pillai, received the Champion of Sustainability award at the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards held Sept. 29 in New York City. The award is a new category for this year’s TOTY Awards and was developed to recognize an individual who has made outstanding contributions in the Vishnu Chandran (left), space. CEO, Wild Republic, and For more than 40 years, Pillai G.B. Pillai, founder. has driven the company’s commitment to nature and conservation while proactively striving to be as environmentally friendly and ethically responsible as possible. Pillai’s grandson, Vishnu Chandran, is now the CEO of Wild Republic. Under Chandran’s direction, the company will continue its mission in educating youth about the importance of nature, the environment and conservation efforts.

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R E TAI L N E W S

Virtu Made debuts sustainable hand-beaded bracelet line Virtu Made, a brand whose products symbolize the harmony between humankind and nature, is celebrating the launch of its Beaded Collection, a new bracelet line made with recycled materials. The materials for this latest bracelet line were collected in collaboration with the TerraCycle Global Foundation, which aims to address the challenge of collecting and recycling plastic waste in emerging countries and preventing it from entering and polluting global aquatic systems. Virtu Made launched its Beaded Collection this summer. Ethically made in Bali, the new Virtu Made bracelets support the company’s commitment to keep the ocean clean and raise awareness about the impacts of plastic pollution on waterways. For every Virtu Made product sold, the brand pledges to remove one pound of trash from rivers, canals and oceans in partnership with the TerraCycle Global Foundation. Each Beaded Collection bracelet from Virtu Made features 50% recycled ocean plastic collected in partnership with TerraCycle Global Foundation, which collects plastic waste from oceans, rivers and canals. The foundation then sorts the waste, and plastics are separated and recycled to be used in products like the new Beaded Collection bracelets. The bracelets feature 10 color options. “The stacked [bead] look is in right now,” says Virtu Made co-founder Ryan Dedola. “It’s a good-looking product that is at an affordable price point.”

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TAK I N G S T O C K

BY MICHAEL HALE

PAR levels — what are they?

PAR levels are a triedand-true formula for making sure you have a stock of your bestsellers for your customers.

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his column is dedicated to keeping stock on hand. Bestsellers often sell through. When you’re sold out of a bestseller, that can dramatically affect your store’s overall sales. Periodic Automatic Replacement (PAR) is an inventory control system that tells you what levels of inventory you should have in stock in order to fulfill demand. The PAR level determines the optimum amount of inventory stock needed on hand after each order delivery. If you place orders monthly and you sell 50 units of an item per month, you should order enough to always be “in stock,” perhaps 50 to 60 of that particular item.

PAR LEVEL FUNDAMENTALS

There are some fundamentals related to setting PAR levels. For order placement:

1

Take a look at your item sales reports for last year, especially for your store’s bestsellers.

Michael Hale, CEO of Retail Rehab, transforms retail spaces and helps drive up profits. michael@retail-rehab.com www.retail-rehab.com

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2 3

Determine how many units of each item you sold in a year.

Find your average monthly unit sales of that item by dividing the total number of units sold in a year by 12.

Additionally, if you place orders for that item on a recurring monthly basis, you would set your PAR level to the number of units sold in a month plus backup of about 10% to 20%. MANAGE YOUR IN-STORE STOCK LEVELS

Now that you know how many items to order, each time you place an order of these items, let’s talk about how many will go on the floor versus in a stockroom or warehouse. First, take your yearly unit sales of an item and divide that by 365. This figure is your daily unit sales for that item. The PAR level for your store is based on how often you restock that item in your store, whether that’s daily, weekly, monthly, et cetera. If you restock your store daily, set your store PAR level to be the average unit sales per day plus a few extra. If you stock your store weekly, set your store PAR level to be the average unit sales per day multiplied by seven plus a few extra. The key here is that PAR levels are a tried-and-true formula for making sure you have a stock of your bestsellers for your customers at all times. The formula is as simple as “order as many as you would sell before the next order plus a few extra.”

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CUSTOMERS COUNT

BY TOM BORG

What motivates your team?

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n a survey, researcher Dr. Ken Kovach found differences between how employees rank 10 possible reward factors and the ways their managers rank them. Here is the comparison:

Instead of assuming that money is the primary motivator, managers should ask what types of rewards employees would value most.

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

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What Employees Want: 1) Interesting work; 2) Full appreciation of work done; 3) Feeling of being “in” on things; 4) Job security; 5) Good wages; 6) Promotion and growth; 7) Good working conditions; 8) Personal loyalty to employees; 9) Tactful disciplining; and 10) Help with personal problems What Supervisors Thought Employees Wanted: 1) Good wages; 2) Job security; 3) Promotion and growth; 4) Good working conditions; 5) Interesting work; 6) Personal loyalty to employees; 7) Tactful disciplining; 8) Full appreciation of work done; 9) Help with personal problems; and 10) Feeling of being “in” on things Why do business owners and managers choose to ignore the reward pref-

erences chosen by most of the workers under their supervision? Dr. Kovach suggests that managers may operate under a self-reference system, assuming employees want the same kind of rewards that they, as supervisors, would want. What should gift shop owners and managers do to align their motivational rewards with their employees? Ask them! Instead of assuming that money is the primary motivator, managers should ask what types of rewards employees would value most. GET EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK

Hold a group brainstorming session to identify all the different ways your team members like to be rewarded. This will give everyone ideas that they haven’t even considered in the past. Implement the ones that are practical and watch team members strive to excel. Next, sit down with each of your team members and discuss how they like to be appreciated and rewarded. This can help you retain your best employees. Now, get out your calendar and schedule your group brainstorming session. Once that is completed, schedule your one-on-one meetings with each of your team members to discuss how they want to be rewarded. Contact me for my list of the top 20 ways to motivate your team members.

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Maili Lafayette and Kara Poulin strive to offer gifts for anyone visiting the Beachology and Happynest stores in Maine.


C O V E R S T O RY

Something FOR EVERYONE STORY BY MEGAN SMALLEY

he vibe of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, often reminds people of simpler times. The coastal town features a small amusement park, arcades and candy shops. Visitors can enjoy fireworks shows from the pier every Thursday night in the summer. And while most of Maine’s beaches are rocky, Old Orchard Beach offers seven miles of soft, sandy beaches. “It’s like a throwback in time. Old Orchard Beach offers old-fashioned, timeless fun,” says Maili Lafayette, owner of Beachology, a seaside retailer a few minutes-walk away from the beach. Beachology strives to offer a little something for everyone who walks in its doors. A “first impression” table greets customers walking in to make them feel at home. As customers explore the store, they can browse several sections that might pique their interests. There’s a home section filled with nautically themed decor, mugs and jams. Avid readers might enjoy the store’s book section. Pop culture enthusiasts may get a kick out of the store’s quirky apparel. There are a variety of plush and small toys to entertain kids. The store also has an apothecary section as well as a camping-themed section. Beachology doesn’t have a target audience — everyone is invited and welcome. “Our doors are opened to anyone who might be interested or looking for that one-of-a-kind gift in our store,” says Lafayette. Offering something to a wide range of people can be challenging. Fortunately, Lafayette’s manager and right hand, Kara Poulin, provides a fresh set of eyes with merchandising decisions. Poulin says she and Lafayette have different interests when it comes to merchandise; it’s a great balance.

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“I love all things kids — toys, pop culture, sitcoms — so, I do a lot of that,” Poulin says, adding that her 19-year-old son gives her input on what’s trending with kids and teens. Lafayette, on the other hand, enjoys finding spiritual and purposeful merchandise, books, home decor, accessories and unique jewelry. Lafayette says the different interests ensure that the seaside retailer can offer gifts for just about anyone visiting Old Orchard Beach. “We want to create an enlightening experience for people coming to shop,” she says. “We’re very much of an inclusive, you’re always invited and feeling welcomed kind of shop culture.” BEGINNING BEACHOLOGY

Maine has been Lafayette’s home for the past 16 years. She and her family had lived in Los Angeles prior to relocating to the East Coast. Her husband, Ken Lafayette, had decided to join his brother’s company, Lafayette Hotels, which owns and manages about 30 hotels across New England. Two years later, Lafayette says she was asked to open a retail space under the Lafayette Hotels brand. The company had a building in the center of Old Orchard Beach and wanted to create a business and diversify the company’s customer experience. “I hadn’t lived here very long, but opening a shop gave me the incredible opportunity to integrate within the community, get to know Maine culture and connect with customers from around the world,” says Lafayette. Under the Lafayette Hotels umbrella, she developed a business plan for the store. But before finalizing a business plan or merchandising strategy, Lafayette says

PHOTOS: DAVID BATES PHOTO

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Visitors and locals to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, are always welcome at Beachology and Happynest where coastal and inspirational merchandise has everyone leaving a little happier.

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C O V E R S T O RY

she wanted to figure out the store’s name and brand mission. The idea for the store’s name came to her while she was at home with her two young kids who were watching Nickelodeon. A television program mentioned the term “wish-ology” at some point, and it clicked with Lafayette: Beachology. “It seemed playful yet ambiguous and [provided] room to grow the brand and beach lifestyle culture. I wanted to create

years of experience working as a wardrobe stylist for the film and television industry. As a stylist, Lafayette says she has spent lot of time in various stores shopping for clients and companies. “I was, and still am, a stylist for the film and television industry,” she says. “When starting Beachology, I could only base my experience of opening a store off being a customer, a buyer, a shopper. I had to turn the tables around and wrap

“I hadn’t lived here very long, but opening a shop gave me the incredible opportunity to integrate within the community, get to know Maine culture and connect with customers from around the world.” — MAILI LAFAYETTE an experiential shop for the beach and coastal lovers,” she says. Lafayette wanted Beachology to be a place she would want to shop at frequently. Although she hadn’t worked in retail on this level, she has had 30

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my head around what it would be like to be a customer in my own store and what experience I want people to feel.” What draws Lafayette in are beautiful home decor items, local artistry and books that inspire the coastal lifestyle.

When the store first opened, merchandise was mostly focused on everything for the beachgoer, such as men’s bathing suits, towels, stylish hats, anything lobster, sunglasses, boogie boards and beach toys. After stocking up on products and setting up displays, Beachology opened in the summer of 2009, with a plan to stay open for the busy summer season of June, July and August. As the store grew in popularity over the years, it stayed open later and later into the fall months. Today, Beachology is open May 1 until Christmas, with an online store available year-round. EXPANDING THE ‘NEST’

In addition to being open for a longer season, Beachology has also expanded its footprint in Maine. In 2014, the space next to Beachology became available and it was the perfect time to expand the brand. Lafayette says the business decided to create a space that would be a collec-

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Beachology originated as a store for beach and coastal lovers, carrying a variety of goods, including home decor featuring Maine’s iconic lobsters and other nautical themes.

tion of Beachology called, “Happynest.” She says, “We wanted to feature more products that shifted our focus on what is inspiring, positive, happy and rejuvenating.” The name Happynest was created based on the store’s mission to spread more awareness of things that make you

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happy and tap into what brings you joy. “I knew that ‘happy’ had to be in the name,” she says. “I was thinking if we can feel happy in our hearts, our homes and within ourselves, we’re pretty good. Happiness can’t come from the outside. Wherever you are, you bring happiness with you.”

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C O V E R S T O RY

After opening Happynest, the new collection of Beachology, the expansion had intrigue, interest and a whole new clientele reach. In 2019, Lafayette and Poulin had the opportunity to expand to another storefront in Kennebunkport, Maine. This charming seaside town serves as a vacation spot for former President George H.W. Bush’s family. Lafayette and Poulin curated the Kennebunkport storefront into a Happynest rather than a Beachology shop, hoping to share the Happynest mission in another town. “There are beaches in Kennebunkport, but it just didn’t feel like it should be a Beachology,” says Lafayette. Products in Happynest are geared more toward the spiritual, including uplifting decor and inspiring gifts and books. Lafayette says she wanted people to feel the intentional good energy and vibes in the shop. “We were hopeful it would help shift their happiness to a higher level than when they entered. We carry

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From Beachology to Friendology When Beachology Owner Maili Lafayette moved to Maine for her husband’s work, she had moved away from all her immediate family members and longtime friends. After the move, she had to make new friends and connections. “My friends would become my family,” says Lafayette. About a decade ago, Lafayette began to host an end-of-the-year event called Friendology. The store would host friends and family during the holidays to help people gather and feel connected. Lafayette says it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and shop at the same time. The event typically takes place the first Friday evening in December. In addition to food and drinks, attendees receive a 20% discount on anything in the store. “People want to celebrate their friendships, but they don’t always want to host an event at their house,” Lafayette explains. “So, with Friendology, we became the party to go to. Our motivation was an extension of our mission and brand. Everyone is welcomed and invited. We have good people, good music, good wine, amazing holiday gifts and lots of love and good energy.” Over the years, Old Orchard Beach locals have embraced Friendology, with over 500 people usually attending the holiday event. “All summer, we have people asking the date for Friendology,” says Kara Poulin, manager of Beachology. “People know about it, and they get excited for it. They wait for the announcement.” Lafayette adds, “It’s our gift to our customers to spread kindness and happiness. We’re grateful for this opportunity to meet such wonderful people through the store.”

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C O V E R S T O RY

crystals, pendulums, healing tools like sage and mindfulness home decor, like Buddhas and lotus flower candle holders.” At one point in time, there were four Beachology store locations and the Happynest boutique. In 2021, the seaside retailer consolidated to just one Beachology store in Old Orchard Beach and the Happynest boutique. They wanted to refocus on the brand, its staff, customer service and building the online shop. The online store opened about a year ago to be available to customers any time of year since both Beachology and Happynest are seasonal and close for winter. Although the website doesn’t feature all the products stocked at Beachology and Happynest, Poulin says they try to focus on the products that sell well in the stores, such as name-dropped T-shirts, lotions and Maine-themed items. “Our goals for the future are to be on everyone’s must-go-to shop list and to be known for the best customer service,” Lafayette adds. “Our main goal is to spread

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the mission of happiness and joy while in our store.” BACKBONE OF BEACHOLOGY

Beachology might have started as a one-person shop, but it has grown to almost 20 employees as well as a full-time manager. As a seasonal operation, the retailer only offers part-time jobs. Lafayette notes that the store’s part-time employees come from various walks of life, including students, retirees and teachers looking to stay busy in the summer. Lafayette says, “We’ve been blessed with a few of our staff members that have been with us year after year since the early days.” Poulin describes their employees as the “backbone” of the business. Between Beachology and Happynest, she makes sure to check in with employees at both locations every single day. She says each employee has a group text chat set up with her and Lafayette to quickly respond to any questions or issues.

Beachology’s merchandise mix and friendly staff spread joy and happiness.

“Kara is amazing at being a team leader and communicating to our staff. She helps them feel supported, empowered and can remotely figure out any solution, even if she’s not at the store. She guides them on how to resolve issues with registers, customers, money discrepancy and more,” says Lafayette. “Her energy and dedication to making the store the best experience for the

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C O V E R S T O RY

Beachology offers something for everyone and all are welcome.

customers and the staff from both stores is her superpower.” Poulin adds that she and Lafayette often host an end-of-the-year dinner with employees to celebrate them and to give them an opportunity to voice their opinions about what has been working well at the store. Lafayette says, “Our priority is to make sure our employees feel comfortable with their flow and their approach

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to customers so they can thrive. I think it’s important when you have people working with you that [they] actually feel supported, seen and heard.” Poulin stresses that retailers need dedicated employees who can go the extra mile to create a loyal customer base. She says, “You could put the greatest

product in your store, but if you don’t have the people you trust to sell it or merchandise it, it’s not going to work.” Lafayette says customers notice when employees connect with them. “To me, that’s so important,” she says. “Give your human touch. [People] need and love connection.”

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C O A S TAL C O N N E C T I O N S C O N F E R E N C E W R AP- U P

KEEPING THE CONNECTIONS GOING Seaside retailers and vendors alike enjoyed making meaningful connections at the second Coastal Connections Conference.

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Dozens of seaside retailers and vendors gathered Oct. 22-24 at Margaritaville Resort Orlando for the 2023 Coastal Connections Conference for eight educational sessions, Seaside Retailer’s Starfish Awards Presentation and The Boardwalk buying event. In addition to the conference’s educational and buying components, attendees enjoyed plenty of networking time at both breakfasts and cocktail hours during the event. A welcome bag, featuring products from leading beach, coastal and nautical brands was also part of the experience for attendees.

tions Conference keynote presentation, “Mastering the Inventory Game,” with Dane Cohen, business development manager at Management One, which is a leading retail planning and analysis company that is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. Cohen has more than a decade of experience in fashion, wholesale and retail industry. He kicked off his presentation noting that independent retail is in his blood — his grandfather started a small, 800-square-foot retail store in 1948. Early on in his career, he led the retail division of Lester’s, a family-owned chain of specialty department stores.

“I’m a big believer in coming together as retailers. The best conversations you will have is here, talking and absorbing ideas together.” — DANE COHEN, MANAGEMENT ONE “Margaritaville is a gorgeous venue,” noted Joey Catrambone of Wildwood, New Jersey-based wholesaler, Bags by Bruno. “You learn a bit and have fun along the way, so it feels like work and vacation at the same time.” A CAPTIVATING KEYNOTE

Seaside retailers packed the meeting room to hear the 2023 Coastal Connec-

“I’m a big believer in coming together as retailers,” he said. “The best conversations you will have is here, talking and absorbing ideas together.” He also is a big believer in applying data to everyday business decisions. Cohen noted that many retailers simply “wing it” when it comes to making inventory-related decisions, particularly during times of economic uncertainty. NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023 SEASIDE RETAILER 29

PHOTOS: AARON LOCKWOOD

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here is no shortage of trade shows and buying events out there for seaside retailers, but 2023 Coastal Connections Conference attendees and vendors alike appreciated that the event gave them valuable resources to improve their businesses as well as ample time to make meaningful connections with other retailers and wholesalers in a laid-back coastal setting. “I wanted to be here to meet other like-minded business owners and to learn new ideas for my business,” said Jackie Gallagher, owner of Jackie Gallagher Designs in Crofton, Maryland, which has been designing and offering coastal-themed jewelry since 2012. Some of the retailers noted that they don’t often get time to work on their businesses through educational experiences at other trade shows and events. “It’s so different from the other events that I attend around the country,” said Kim Springsteen-Abbott, owner of Lady Gryphon’s Coastal Collection Shop in Tarpon Springs, Florida. “This, you really care about the retailer and want us to grow through education. I think that’s a value not offered for us elsewhere.”

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A spotlight on charity During the Coastal Connections Conference, Seaside Retailer magazine recognized its six Starfish Award winners from 2023. Scott Hamblen of Sunshine Ace Hardware, one of the 2023 winners, shared a video presentation titled, “Sunshine after the Storm,” which detailed how and why Sunshine Ace Hardware jumped into action to give back to its employees and the community in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in 2022. “When the hurricane comes through, and maybe you don’t have a roof, you don’t have power, everyone wants to figure out how to restore that for their family, and we’re a lifeline,” he said. “So, we get open as soon as possible to provide people gas, power, so they can get back to some sense of normal life.” Impulse Souvenirs sponsors Seaside Retailer’s Starfish Awards program. One winner is featured in each issue of the magazine. Nominations can be made at www.seasideretailer.com/starfish-award. Additionally, Seaside Retailer knows the importance of giving back to retailers and communities in need. A portion of Coastal Connections Conference proceeds are being donated to Maui wildfire relief efforts. A portion of proceeds from the inaugural Coastal Connections Conference in January 2023 also went to support Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

He explained, “What happens when you wing it? In times of economic uncertainty, we see the widest assortment of [inventory] plans. You want to satisfy everyone, you don’t want to double down, so you sprinkle your buying. What ends up happening when you do that is you get a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing.” Cohen said offering customers too many choices paralyzes them to the point where they are less likely to buy something. He said, “Focused, direct and curated buys are going to direct your customer on how to purchase. Stop winging it. Look at data to make data-driven decisions.” Retailers appreciated diving into the data on inventory management. Several said the keynote showed them ways they could make improvements. “I’ve been in business for 12 years, but I’m always trying to learn and see how I can make my business and myself better,” said Kim Hannon, owner of Ophiuroidea in Grasonville, Maryland. “I learned that I still have a lot of work to do with managing my inventory.” PERSPECTIVE FROM THE PROS AND PANELS

In addition to the keynote, attendees heard from more than a dozen other 30 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

industry professionals on topics relevant to managing coastal shops. Hiring is not an easy feat, so four shop owners offered their insights on how to “Build an All-Star Team.” Speakers included William Hill of Margaritaville Resort Orlando Gift Shop; Scott Hamblen of Sunshine Ace Hardware; Kim Springsteen-Abbott of Lady Gryphon’s Coastal Collection Shop; and Kathy Cruz, a shop owner and business coach for Savvy Shopkeeper. Although seaside retailers might primarily hire part-time employees, panelists stressed that retailers should be thoughtful about the hiring process.

Customers love when shops connect on a personal level, so Holly Daniels Christensen of Dune Jewelry; Steve Schultz of Flip Flop Shops; and Dave Foos of Clarkston Consulting offered tips on how retailers can elevate the shopping experience during the session, “Putting Experiential Retail into Action.” “Experiential retail gives you a way to connect with shoppers,” said Foos. “The goal is engagement with customers.” Before breaking for lunch on the second day of the event, things got personal in the “Creating Coastal Connections Continued” session as panelists shared challenges they have faced and how connecting with business communities has helped them grow, including Cruz of Savvy Shopkeeper; Pauline Bresnahan of Pauline’s Gifts; Patrick Keiser of Heart on Main Street; Anita Cereceda of The Islander; and Elie Johnson of ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Cereceda shared how having a strong business community helped her in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. “On Sept. 27, 2022, I had three thriving businesses. On Sept. 28 [of that year], I had none. I also didn’t have a house. Hurricane Ian hit and demolished everything,” she said. “But I think that my purpose here is to talk about how important connections you make every single day are — with customers, vendors, friends, people you meet at a conference.” Seaside retailers also loved learning about what’s trending with social media in the “It’s Your Time to Shine Online!” session, featuring Crystal Vilkaitis, owner of Crystal Media. Vilkaitis outlined some simple tips for retailers to increase their consistency on social media.

“This is the only conference that specializes in providing information for retailers that have operations that concentrate on the seaside experience. Not only are the speakers geared toward that but other attendees are as well. You can learn a lot from these people.” — SAM CHANG, IBCARIBBEAN To kick off the second day of the event, Cathy Nagle-Ervin, owner of Retail Training Tools, certainly woke attendees up by offering a rapid-fire list of “45 Rewarding Ideas in 45 Minutes.” She offered her top consulting tips that retailers could put into practice once they returned home, including some useful tech tools and best business practices.

“Often, the content of just the business owner talking to the camera behind the scenes performs best,” she said. “That takes under a minute to perform and post. It’s not necessarily easy, but it can be simple.” To foster better connections, Coastal Connections Conference gave each of its Boardwalk vendors a chance to sit down www.seasideretailer.com


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in front of attendees to get personal about their brands and share insights on product trends. Seaside Retailer Publisher Karen Carr interviewed each of these vendors, and many of them enjoyed being able to share their stories in this conversational spotlight at the event. Educational sessions concluded Monday, Oct. 24, with a session on “Visual Merchandising Tips and Tricks” with Michael Hale, owner of Retail Rehab. He shared actionable takeaways for retailers on how to improve their displays. Hale stressed that taking the time to improve on a store’s visual merchandising will elevate the perceived value of products. He said, “It’s really important to make sure we bring the value of our product up to what our pricing is.” NONSTOP NETWORKING

During traditional buying events with hundreds of vendors to see, it can be tough for retailers to make time to talk to one another. At Coastal Connections Conference, seaside retailers got the time to sit down with their industry peers to talk shop and share personal experiences.

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Sam Chang, owner of IBCaribbean, which opened its first retail shop about two years ago, said he likes that the event helps him exchange ideas with colleagues from across the country. “This is the only conference that specializes in providing information for retailers that have operations that concentrate on the seaside experience,” he said. “Not only are the speakers geared toward that but other attendees are as well. You can learn a lot from these people.” Vendors also liked getting one-onone time with retailers during the event’s cocktail hours and The Boardwalk buying event Oct. 24. “We came here last year,” explained Ryan Dedola, founder of Virtu Made. “It was a great conference, very niche. You have one-on-one time with people. It’s nice to get to know your retailers in a more intimate setting than your

traditional trade show. I think the retailers enjoy it, too, because they’re not frantically looking at 300 brands. It gives retailers relaxed moments to take in what’s here.” Dedola added that the return on investment for the show has been good for him as well. Michael Kapica, sales manager of Charming Shark Tropical Accessories, attended the Coastal Connections Conference as a vendor for the first time in October. He said he liked that he had a better opportunity to get to know retailers at this event. “It’s a great, intimate place to get to know each other one-on-one a lot better,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re visiting clients, you don’t get the chance to sit down, eat with them, have a couple of drinks. Here, it’s nice to be able to see everybody.”

Thank you to all our sponsors and Boardwalk vendors! The next 10 pages feature ads from all the 2023 Coastal Connection Conference sponsors and vendors. A special thank you to Platinum Sponsor, Impulse Souvenirs; Gold Sponsor, Bamboo Source Tropical Decor; and Silver Sponsor, Dune Jewelry.

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P R O D U C T F O C U S: K I D S

Put a smile on kids’ faces by offering beach, coastal and nautical merchandise they can wear, play with and most of all — remember.

SCORING POINTS

STORY BY KRISTIN ELY

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Bits & Bows is among the clothing brands giving kids fashionable ways to express their love of the ocean.

with the kids

hen children go on vacation, they are eager to spend their money on souvenirs, and if that vacation is near the beach, you can best bet those keepsakes will have to do with the sea life that is native to the area. Just ask Heather Palmer, community outreach director at Cape Cod Children’s Museum in Mashpee, Massachusetts. “Children visit from all over the world and the most common thread is their love for all things, both real and imaginary that are ocean related,” Palmer says. The shop at the Cape Cod Children’s Museum aptly named The Parent Trap caters primarily to kids, with 99% of its merchandise geared toward children. Among its best year-round sellers are 42 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

stuffed mermaids with sequins and colored hair, Ty plush, light-up items, dinosaur grabbers and wiggly sensory items like dolphins, dinosaurs and caterpillars. In the summer, the most popular items are Funny Mat washable placemats, wooden puzzles with ocean themes, eggs with growing mermaids and dinosaurs, bubble makers and ukuleles. Children visiting seaside destinations are definitely in the market for merchandise, and their parents are also looking for items their children can wear to cover up at the beach or that provide entertainment back at their hotel in the evenings. Luckily, there is no shortage of products that can fulfill these wants and needs. PLUSH POPULARITY

For many kids, plush is where it’s at for souvenirs from their vacations, and there

are quite a few companies on the market ready to fulfill that child’s every whim. At Fiesta, the axolotls have been getting a lot of attention lately. “Our No. 1 selling item no matter where the customers are located is axolotls,” says Coral Reynolds, president. “The social media and buzz behind them makes them great for anyone. Kids know what they are even if the adults do not, and they transcend any norms as far as locations.” The company’s 100% recycled plush line, Earth Pals, with an emphasis on saving the oceans, also does well. Available in a variety of sea life, the products are all made from post-consumer water bottles. Fiesta’s Swaddle Babies are a must have for the coast, according to Reynolds. “These swaddles allow the children to take them with them on the go.” The axolotl is also trending with www.seasideretailer.com



P R O D U C T F O C U S: K I D S

Wild Republic. According to Victor Armendariz, Latin American/Caribbean sales manager, the native animal of Mexico started trending because of a video game and social media, and now he says, “We can’t keep it in stock.” Other big coastal sellers are hatchling turtles, which Armendariz says are a huge favorite, and sharks, which he says never go out of style “so we are always expanding in those lines.” Wild Republic’s other toys are also eco-friendly. The company has recently introduced a line of biodegradable toys called Green Guardians and is launching a biodegradable plush line. Armendariz notes, The Earth Pals line from Fiesta features 100% recycled plush and is a hit with the kids.

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“We are a leader in offering a product that a child can love, cuddle and play with, but there is also a message behind it, so they are learning at the same time.” Designed with education and discovery in mind, Marine Life Rescue Project offers sea turtle hatchling eggs and rescue stretcher plush marine animals. One hundred percent of the net proceeds go directly to the critical work of Clearwater Marine Research Institute, rescuing marine animals and researching solutions to save the oceans. “These products appeal to parents and children alike, looking to get involved in saving our oceans and the marine life in them,” says Andy Goldman, president. “Our Sea Turtle Hatchling Eggs are our best seller at coastal shops because they are a small, fun item for kids traveling with their parents, and also make a great gift item to take home.” Another plush toy brand that is all about the education is Stuffed States. Owner Stacey McLaughlin says she

All of Madd Capp’s jigsaw puzzles come in unique shapes and five-sided boxes.

thinks educational toys are finding a new road into the souvenir business. The company specializes in selling plushies shaped like every U.S. state. “Our Stuffed States are the perfect educational companions for kids, helping them explore the geography of the state they’re visiting on vacation,” she says, adding, “Stuffed States make the ideal grab-and-go, impulse buy for parents and grandparents, seeking an educational, unique and utterly adorable gift for their kids.”

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The company will debut Mini Stuffs in 2024, which are tiny versions of each Stuffed State sold as a magnet or keychain/backpack dangler, great for tweens and teens. KEEPSAKES FOR KIDDOS

Streamline Imagined carries a variety of products with nautical and sea life themes that resonate with children. “We offer a range of items from fun octopus pens, shark hand puppets to Plush Ball Jelly sea animals (PBJs),” says Lynda Rosen, chief business development officer. “We touch on many categories for children.” The company’s best sellers are PBJs, projection lights and nautical pens. “They are all-time favorites not just in the coastal areas but across the country,” notes Rosen. The axolotl is also a strong seller. “The axolotl is the hot sea creature right now,” she says. “We show it on pens, stuffed animals, children’s lighting. We can’t keep

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Children enjoy Croc charms from Little Box Guy as well as a variety of tees and hats.

it in stock no matter how we present it.” If a game or puzzle to pass the night away is something you want to offer customers, then Madd Capp suggests you “think outside the box.” Its jigsaw puzzles aren’t square, they’re shaped; its boxes aren’t square or ordinary either. “Our signature five-sided boxes stop people in their tracks,” says John Moran, co-founder and principal, Madd Capp Games & Puzzles. “Cap it

with a poster-sized point-of-sale display just like a finished puzzle that can stand on a shelf, hang from the ceiling or mount on the wall.” Puzzles available from the company include I am Blue Heron, I am Lil’ Dolphin, I am Duck, I am Lil’ Flamingo, I Am Lil’ Gator, I am Mermaid, I Am Parrot, I am Lil’ Sea Turtle and I am Lil’ Shark. Madd Capp will also be getting on board with the axolotl trend in 2024 with

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its launch of I am Lil’ Axolotl. The company also offers the Peg Leg, I Scream, and More S’mores card games and a S’mores & More Checkers game. While not all products from Little Box Guy are geared toward children, president Nick Ortiz says, “One thing I’ve noticed regularly from our customers is how everyone’s inner child shines freely when they see Little Box Guy.” The company’s logo is a character Ortiz started drawing as a kid. “We do carry products specifically for kids, which include youth tees and hats,” he says. “Children also enjoy our stickers, Croc charms, buttons and enamel pins. Our line includes cool designs of a variety of your favorite marine life animals that will bring an instant smile to your face.” The company plans to release plush keychains, plush dolls and vinyl toys in the near future. “Backpacks and kids’ straw hats are also on the horizon,” Ortiz notes. DRESSED FOR THE BEACH

While toys and trinkets are popular with the kiddos, seaside stores also have the opportunity to provide them with wardrobe options that allow them to wear the beach, coastal and nautical themes they love. Tidewater Tots offers girls’ and boys’ swimsuits from newborn to kids size 8. The company also offers hooded towels for the pool/beach. “Our Shark Bite collection is a great seller for coastal retailers,” says Abigail Paul, president of Tidewater Tots. “Families on vacation love to ‘hunt’ for shark teeth and this is a great collection to remember that by.” Neutrals, cut outs and family matching are all trends Paul is seeing, and the company is launching some new resort collections for 2024, including: Turtley Cute, Sunny Days and Flamingos. In addition to cuteness, Tidewater Tots products are made of UPF 50+ fabrics in the USA. Bits & Bows’ products solve the coastal customers’ dilemma to find functional headwear and accessories, while providing style that’s seaside-appropriate, high-quality and elevated enough to pair with a swimsuit for day or sundresses at night, according to Katherine Rosenthal, co-founder. “Bits & Bows’ accessories are accessibly priced to delight customers seeking a little extra protection for fun in the sun for every member of the family and travel party,” she says. Bits & Bows’ signature product, the Bow Baseball Hat, offers an updated, feminine twist on the traditional sun-protecting sportswear staple. The company also offers coordinating boys’ Baseball Hats featuring favorite nautical motifs, jewelry featuring favorite vacation destinations, hair accessories, purses and holiday items. “Every piece is designed to combine chic, coastal style with fun and skin-protecting function to create the perfect finishing touch — from the court to the green, and everywhere in New for 2024, Tidewater Tots between,” Rosenthal says. will release its Turtley Cute And just as important as beresort collection. www.seasideretailer.com

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PRODUCT FOCUS: KIDS

In 2024, Emerson and Friends will launch its new Sun and Sea collection.

ing dressed coastal by day is being tucked into bed at night with patterns that send children off to sleep dreaming of the sea. Emerson and Friends’ Manatee and Ocean Friends pajamas are offered in sizes ranging from newborn to 10/12K with stuffed animals, adorable loveys and matching books and puzzles. “We also have a wide range of adult sizes for the fun opportunity to match your whole family,” says owner Nicole Northway. “Styles we offer include pajamas, baby convertibles, dresses, rompers, graphic tees, adult lounge pants, women’s shorts and shirts and women’s joggers.” In 2024 the company will launch a new Sun and Sea collection. “With this collection we will also be introducing our silicone sand toys, beach bags and reversible swimsuits,” says Northway. Lorain Herder is founder and CEO of Doodle Pants, which makes apparel crafted to spark the imaginations of little ones while providing comfortable, practical options for a wide range of activities. She says shark, mermaid and sea turtle apparel are the company’s top three sellers in its coastal collection right now, “unless you are in Florida, then it is the manatee.” Some drivers of those trends are that everyone loves mermaids, they offer an adult size of the shark for a mommyand-me look, and the turtle hoodie has a turtle shell backpack attached. “It is patent-pending, has a functional bag and I can’t keep it in stock,” says Herder. One thing you won’t find at Doodle Pants is an ordinary hoodie. “We don’t have normal hoodies. We always have fins or teeth or spikes or a tail coming out of it,” Herder says. So whether your young customers are in the market for toys, souvenirs, apparel or anything in between, you’ll be able to put a smile on their face and help them remember their trip for years to come. 48 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023



P R O D U C T F O C U S: K I D S

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KID-APPROVED

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These trending children’s offerings bring out the beach lover in the youngest of shoppers.

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1. Flopeeze Funwear. Kids leopard color spots Flopeeze are a fun, lightweight, versatile, waterproof and washable way to cover your feet. www.flopeeze.com

5. Simply Chickie. Put a smile on a baby’s face with this A Star is Born baby hat, made in the USA and sewn with soft organic cotton with adjustable knot. www.simplychickieclothing.com

2. Madd Capp. I am Mermaid 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle has a unique shape that will entertain mermaid lovers for hours and includes fascinating facts about the mythical creature. www.maddcappgames.com

6. Mermaid Book Company. Twinkle Twinkle Little Mermaid is a delightful story featuring a mermaid and adorable sea creatures based on a popular nursery rhyme. www.littlemermaidtales.com

3. Fiesta. Three-in-one Cutie Beans Candy Dreams Dolphin is a coin purse with iridescent fabric lining, plush toy and backpack clip. Comes with a palm-oil-free lollipop. www.fiestatoy.com

7. The Petting Zoo. Bring bold color and sea life adventures to customers with this cute stuffed animal axolotl featuring feathery gills and a big smile. www.pettingzooplush.com

4. Doodle Pants. Adorable flamingo bodysuit features two flamingos in love on the front and four hearts on the back for a cute look. Made from breathable 100% cotton that is gentle against delicate skin. www.doodlepants.com

8. Stuffed States USA. Stuffed States double as a geography lesson and a fun plush souvenir. Kids can learn about the different states and their unique shapes in an engaging way. www.stuffedstatesusa.com

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PRODUCT FOCUS: KIDS

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9. Tidewater Tots. Turtley Cute swim shorts are made in the USA of breathable material with light stretch and soft inner liner. www.tidewatertots.com

14. Turtle Tracks Family. In Gators Galore, Giz the young alligator gets swept away on an adventure when heavy rains flood his native wetlands. www.turtletracksfamily.com

10. Little Box Guy. Surf shark “Board all Day” charcoal youth tee is made from 100% combed ring spun cotton, label-free, soft and lightweight. www.littleboxguy.com

15. Marine Life Rescue Project. Kids can create their own story of rescue, rehab and release with the green sea turtle with stretcher. www.marineliferescueproject.org

11. First & Main. Under-the-Sea collection uses sumptuously soft material in the reflective colors of the ocean. www.firstandmain.com

16. Wild Republic. Cute Ecokins dolphin is made from 100% recycled fabric and plastic fiber fill. www.wildrepublic.com

12. Emerson & Friends. Ocean Friends bamboo shorty romper is perfect for spring and summer. www.emersonandfriends.com

17. Line + Cleat. Sun safe UPF 50+ pink flag stripe shirt is moisture wicking, anti-microbial, odor resistant and perfect for those long and relaxing days on the beach. www.lineandcleat.com

13. Bits & Bows. Boys shark baseball hat is a nautical take on a classic summer accessory. www.shopbitsandbows.com

18. Streamline Imagined. Projection light transforms a room into an under-the-sea experience. www.streamlinenyc.com

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Q&A: S U S TAI N AB I L I T Y

SSA GROUP IS EMPOWERING ZOOS, AQUARIUMS AND CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS ACROSS THE U.S. TO EMBRACE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRACTICES AND PRODUCTS. EDITED BY KRISTIN ELY

QA & W I T H R O C H E L L E LY N N

Rochelle Lynn is a divisional buyer for SSA Group with more than 20 years of experience. She oversees a region of zoos, museums and aquariums across the U.S. More information on SSA Group is available online at www.thessagroup.com.

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ift shops at zoos, aquariums and cultural attractions are increasingly becoming more eco-friendly as a way to support the missions of the venues they support and as consumers are conscious of the impact their purchases make on the environment. SSA Group partners with more than 79 attractions across 32 states, including 58 zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens and 21 museums and iconic attractions. Rochelle Lynn, divisional buyer for SSA Group with more than 20 years’ experience, oversees a region of zoos, museums and aquariums across the U.S. She shares more about the organization’s sustainability mission in a Q&A with Seaside Retailer. Seaside Retailer (SR): How does SSA Group enhance sustainability for its retail partners? Rochelle Lynn (RL): At SSA Group, we are proud to be at the forefront of the movement towards sustainability and responsible sourcing in our industry. Our mission is to empower cultural attractions across the United States, enhancing the entire guest experience encompassing food, retail and admissions. Sustainability is ingrained in the very core of our retail philosophy. We have made it our mission to meticulously source and curate product collections with a focus on waste reduction and alternative materials. Our dedication extends to collaborating with artisans from around the world, both locally and globally, to procure goods that align with our values and our partners’ missions. Our valued partners in the aquarium and coastal retail space, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo, Gulf World, Audubon Aquarium and USS Bowfin share our commitment to this vision. SR: What accomplishment are you most proud of when it comes to offering sustainable products? RL: One of our proudest accomplishments in our sustainability journey is the introduction of our plush toy line crafted www.seasideretailer.com



Q&A: S U S TAI N AB I L I T Y

Focusing on products that reduce waste is a core mission of SSA Group.

from 100% recycled materials. Since its inception, this initiative alone has helped recycle nearly 7 million single-use water bottles, making a significant dent in the battle against plastic waste. In 2017, our exclusive Quest Toy line boldly eliminated single-use plastic packaging, setting an industry-leading example. Notably, the Monterey Bay Aquarium collaborated closely with us to eliminate single-use plastic from their retail store, making them trailblazers as the first aquarium in our industry to achieve this monumental feat. SR: How else does SSA promote sustainable retail? RL: Recently, we unveiled our “Let’s Change the Way We Shop” concept — a celebration of our diverse product range that places sustainability, inclusivity and community connections at the forefront. Sustainable and eco-friendly apparel, toys and plush items now take center stage as our primary revenue drivers. We’ve forged an exclusive partnership with A&F Souvenir for apparel customization, harnessing the eco-friendly power of the Kornit Digital printer, which drastically reduces water and energy consumption compared to traditional screen-printing methods. Our commitment to safety and sustainability extends to our ink, which is nontoxic and water-based, ensuring responsible disposal. Our partnership with Wild Republic contributes significantly 54 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

to our sustainability efforts through the Ecokins plush line, comprised of 100% recycled fabric and plastic fill. SR: What role does responsible product sourcing play in sustainability efforts at SSA Group? RL: In the realm of jewelry and accessories, responsible sourcing is our priority. We proudly collaborate with Smart Glass Jewelry, a company dedicated to transforming glass bottles into stunning sustainable jewelry pieces. Betty Belts Jewelry, situated in Ventura, California, works wonders with upcycled surfboard

resin, breathing new life into materials that would otherwise find themselves in landfills. Reformed ingeniously repurposes billboards into unique tote bags, inspired by a life-changing trip to El Salvador where the founders witnessed billboards serving as makeshift roofs. Ocean Sole, yet another integral partner, works magic by turning discarded flip flops into art and functional products, while making significant contributions to ocean trash cleanup. As the holiday season approaches, we understand the importance of the gift product category. Some of our favorite selections for this season include Marley’s Monsters, Potting Shed Creations and In2Green. Marley’s Monsters, a woman-owned business, offers a range of reusable products designed to replace single-use disposables, such as paper towels and napkins, all featuring fun and unique prints. Both Potting Shed and In2Green create products that incorporate reclaimed objects and recycled materials, further championing our commitment to sustainability. SR: In what other ways does SSA Group embrace and promote conservation? RL: It’s not just about products for us. We are passionate about working with vendors who have compelling stories behind their creations as this enables us to convey compelling messages that resonate

SSA’s “Let’s Change the Way We Shop” campaign celebrates sustainability, inclusivity and eco-friendly apparel, such as at the Maryland Zoo.

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We believe in more than just retail; we are champions of a brighter, more sustainable future, driven by impactful missions and businesses that share our vision. — ROCHELLE LYNN deeply with our partners and guests. Moreover, we extend our impact into local communities, collaborating with organizations like sea turtle rescues to make a meaningful difference. Last year, our dedicated SSA Houston Zoo staff partnered with a sea turtle rescue initiative, resulting in the successful treatment and rehabilitation of over 100 sea turtles. To commemorate this significant achievement, we collaborated with Melissa Lew to create a signature necklace, which not only celebrates but also raises awareness for this vital program. Furthermore, we take immense pride in supporting local artists in every city and town we serve. This not only spotlights their creative talents but also provides our guests with an opportunity to engage with local

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connections and learn about their unique techniques. SR: Is there anything else you would like to share? RL: In an era where conscious consumerism and sustainability are paramount, SSA Group proudly stands as a model of positive change. Our unwavering commitment to responsible retail sourcing, environmental conservation, and community engagement is a testament to our dedication to transforming cultural attractions into eco-friendly, mission-driven destinations. We believe in more than just retail; we are champions of a brighter, more sustainable future, driven by impactful missions and businesses that share our vision.

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023 SEASIDE RETAILER 55


S T Y L E T R E N D : E N T E R TAI N I N G

C&F Enterprises predicts that bright and bold colors and embracing minimalism with decor will be popular entertaining trends in 2024.

beach

SERVING UP MEMORIES

Coastal entertaining trends feature beachy colors and imagery to enhance the experience without going overboard. STORY BY KRISTIN ELY

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old, beautiful and simple. Those are just some words that describe the way coastal themes are being incorporated into celebrations and get-togethers in seaside locations these days. Busy is becoming passe, while minimalism is getting invited to the party. But while less may be more, the items being used for these events are definitely making a powerful statement. Colleen Hall, vice president of marketing for C&F Enterprises, which represents several houseware brands, including C&F Home, Rightside Design and Beachcombers Coastal

56 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Life, says 2024 is going to bring a change back to bright, bold colors for entertaining. “C&F Home and Beachcombers Coastal Life have linens, serveware, and barware that run a full gamut of fun coastal and nautical hues,” she says. And less is more where decor is concerned. “Minimalism is also making its way in as an entertaining trend in 2024,” Hall adds. “Where previously, events had lots of decorations, and ‘stuff ’ around the home or venue, the trend is heading toward quality over quantity.” She notes that Rightside Design’s luxury linens feature intricate embroidered scenes, www.seasideretailer.com



S T Y L E T R E N D : E N T E R TAI N I N G

1

BEACH PARTY MUST-HAVES

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Help your customers leave a lasting impression on guests with this selection of coastal products.

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1 | Shard: Oyster placemat, www.shardathome.com; 2 | Cape Shore: Weekender lighthouse ceramic mug with cork bottom, www.cape-shore.com; 3 | Kim Rody Creations: Flamingo chorus line tridish, www.rody.com; 4 | Rustic Marlin: Buoy serving tray, www.rusticmarlin.com; 5 | Rockflowerpaper: Serving tray featuring map of Cape Cod, www.rockflowerpaper.com; 6 | Xplorer Maps: Captiva and Sanibel islands ceramic shot glass, www.xplorermaps.com; 7 | C&F Home: Welcome aboard tea towel featuring nautical wheel, www.candfhome.store; 8 | Sea Stones: Touchstone wine glasses made from recycled glass and smooth New England stones, www.sea-stones.com; 9 | Rightside Design: Embroidered heron coastal blue placemats with fringed edges, www.rightsidedesignstyle.com; 10 | Caloosa WaterWear: Pink crab microfiber dish towel, www.shopcaloosa.com; 11 | Printed Hues: Oyster shell dish, www.printedhues.com. 58 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

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S T Y L E T R E N D : E N T E R TAI N I N G

Rightside Design tabletop collections feature embroidering and fringe.

thus lending themselves to being both functional and decorative, reducing the need for excess decorations. “Between C&F Home, Beachcombers Coastal Life and Rightside Design, C&F Enterprises offers a comprehensive range of products to create an enjoyable entertainment space and experience,” she says. Rightside Design tabletop collections feature 100% cotton material, embroidered with coastal icons. “Their fringed

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edges lend a casually elegant look and create the perfect setting for dining rooms and patios. Complete the look with a corresponding handmade napkin ring made from wooden beads and twisted metal,” describes Hall. For outdoor entertaining, Rightside Design offers luxury heavily embroidered, weather- and stain-resistant pillows, and coming for 2024, table linens. C&F collections are designed with layering and coordination in mind, notes Hall. “C&F Home offers quilted and woven table linens made to layer together providing a base for a beautiful tablescape,” she says. “You will also find coastal-themed dishes, serveware and table decor from both C&F Home and Beachcombers Coastal Life that coordinate with the linens to complete the look.” C&F Home also offers outdoor pillows, throws and table linen options “to set the scene for your next pool or porch party,” according to Hall.

CUSTOM DESIGNS

Rustic Marlin offers everything from serving trays and bottle openers to cornhole game sets. All items handcrafted in coastal Massachusetts, and are personalized specifically for your local town and customer. “Everything is made in coastal Massachusetts and our products exude the coastal lifestyle we all love to live,” says Melanie O’Neil, founder and president. “The handcrafted feel with our personal-

Rustic Marlin offers a variety of customizable serving trays.

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S T Y L E T R E N D : E N T E R TAI N I N G

ized coastal designs elevate any hosting experience.” Town Pride carries engraved glassware with custom etching. “Winethemed goods are still very strong, and we are seeing an uptick in all things gameday including entertaining,” says Tamara Moran, president. She adds, while traditionally gameday items have been more popular in the South, demand is increasing across the

Town Pride has seen an uptick in all things gameday, including entertaining products.

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U.S. “We predict ‘gameday’ to be on the rise and something to keep your eye on.” ARTWORK ON DISPLAY

At Kim Rody Creations LLC, it’s all about the artwork, whether it is a serving platter, a travel mug, a bowl, cocktail napkins or notecard set, featuring vibrant sea life images painted by Rody. The dinnerware line applies Rody’s art to bright porcelain, which is fired in Rody’s Palm City, Florida, kilns. “They are definitely one of a kind,” says Rody of her creations. “They portray baby turtles, big sea turtles, fish, palm trees and all the things people want to surround themselves with during the vacation time that they have.” She adds that the prints are popular on both the East and West coasts, the Hawaiian Islands and the Caribbean. And for 2024, Rody sees tridishes as popular entertaining accoutrements. “They are really catching on much better than before.”

Rody says she plans on spending more time on the easel in the future so her dinnerware items will only be available for another year or two. But not to worry, her colorful art is also printed on canvas and ready to hang or display on an included easel. Now, that’s something dinner guests will be able to talk about! Another brand known for its artful designs is Island Haus. “Our products are so special because they start out as a watercolor painting that we then transfer on a variety of different products so your customers won’t find a design like ours anywhere else,” says Renee Gutzwiller, owner and creator, Island Haus Co. Coffee mugs and island tea towels are among Island Haus’ most popular entertaining items. “Our products elevate the coastal entertaining experience because they are so unique in design and are a very wellmade quality. They are also such a great item to treasure and a good conversation starter,” adds Gutzwiller.

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S T Y L E T R E N D: E N T E R TAI N I N G

She predicts 2024 entertaining offerings will include more products that are customizable, but also items that won’t break and can be easily transported. Shard also offers artful coastal pattern in its mugs, tasting bowls, coasters, appetizer plates, wine crocks, pitchers, kitchen towels, placements and napkins. Shard’s pieces use natural colors that founder Anne Pecora says “translate beautifully in our earthen pieces.” “Consumers, especially in coastal areas enjoy a more casual dining experience with less fuss, but still impactful tablescapes,” she says. ECO-FRIENDLY ENTERTAINING

For the eco-conscious consumer looking for a way to show that fondness for conservation with the products they use to entertain guests, they are in luck. Sea Stones salvages landfill-bound granite countertop remnants from local fabricators to create polished stonework. “We hand-collect rounded beach

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says Johnson. “Granite stones, and to make sure and stone products there will always be a feature natural textures, replacement for future colors and patterns that gatherers, we purchase harmonize with the stones from a quarry. For coastal landscape.” each stone we harvest, And it’s not just we ‘plant’ a new stone the aesthetic. Johnson in the water, so over the explains that due to their years the water tumdurability and resilience, bles the rough ‘seed’ they can withstand harsh into smooth, rounded coastal environments, stones,” explains Anne “so are ideal for outdoor Johnson, Sea Stones’ use, and they can tolerate co-founder. “Everything both heat and freezing we make comes with a temperatures, which is lifetime guarantee, which Coffee mugs are some of the ideal for offering hot and backs our commitment most popular entertaining cold appetizers, as well as to durability.” items for Island Haus. keeping our coaster sets Products include chilled for slow sippers.” granite serverware like lazy susans and So help your customers dig in, relax chillable serving trays, candle-powered and enjoy their nibbles and sips in hot plates, chillable granite coaster sets coastal style, from the serverware to the and stemless wine glasses and touchstone glasses and mugs and the table accents, wine glasses and wine glass holders. pillows and artwork. “Our work has an aesthetic appeal,”

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P R E S E N TAT I O N: S AM P L E S

STORY BY MEGAN SMALLEY

TRY IT,

then buy it

Offering samples gives seaside retailers an easy and fun way to boost sales.

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urricane Dave’s Gifts & Coastal is a go-to shop for nautical-themed gifts and souvenirs in Gulf Breeze, Florida. Owner Dave Ivey stocks the 2,000-square-foot shop with plenty of gifts to choose from at a mix of price ranges, including home decor, tea towels, charcuterie boards, jewelry, candles as well as select health and beauty products. The seaside retailer only opened for business two years ago, but Ivey says he has been working in retail for more than two decades. He previously owned a coastal-themed shop in the Jacksonville, Florida, area, and moved to the Pensacola, Florida, area a few years ago to be closer to family. Throughout his time in retail, he stresses that customer service has been his No. 1 priority for success. Part of offering good customer service includes making all customers welcome and inviting them to try samples of lotion from Inis and Naked Bee shortly after they walk in the door. “Maybe the person isn’t drawn to the [product] right away, but they’ll remember the store. People love free stuff. That’s key to it,” he says. 66 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Offering customers samples is a great way for seaside retailers to both boost their sales and help customers make decisions. Cathy Donovan Wagner is founder and president of Retail Mavens, a consulting group in Elgin, Illinois, that is dedicated to empowering store owners to get more profit and better sleep. She explains that customers are more likely to purchase brands and products they have tried and enjoyed before. “Think about if you’re going to someone’s house for dinner or a holiday party and you want to bring a bottle of wine. You walk through the wine section, and you will see labels that are compelling and that interest you. When you see the [wine] you tried that you know is delicious, you’ll get it,” she shares. “In the same way, with food samples or any sort of makeup samples, you can be attracted based on the label, but that won’t necessarily mean you will buy it. You want to buy something you know and love.” So, she notes, if they haven’t tried that wine or that lotion, offering a sample can solve that problem and help the customer Testers of True Ocean products and Margaritaville Resort Orlando’s exclusive “Mother Ocean” scent help boost sales at the gift shop.

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P R E S E N TAT I O N: S AM P L E S

BRIMMING WITH BENEFITS

Inis offers retailers cologne and body lotion samples free with most wholesale orders.

make a purchasing decision. “At the end of the day, what sampling does is it forces the person to make a decision: They like it, or they don’t,” she says. “One thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is you’ve got to let them try it, and they’ll buy it.”

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Samples might be free to customers, but someone ultimately pays for and manages the samples. Wagner notes that retailers hate to lose profit, but she adds, it can pay off to spend a little time and money on samples from time to time. She says seaside retailers should collaborate with wholesalers for the perfect sampling strategies. “Vendors and retailers have to work together,” Wagner emphasizes. Oftentimes, wholesalers will offer retailers products at a discount or free when retailers talk to them about letting their customer sample the product. “We offer our cologne and body lotion samples free of charge with a modest wholesale order minimum. They are also available for purchase at a modest at-cost price,” says Karen Wilkinson, marketing director at Ireland-based Inis the Energy of the Sea. She adds, “Samples offer the customer a no-pressure way to try and enjoy the product.”

Wilkinson encourages retail partners to give cologne and body lotion samples away to customers even if they haven’t made an Inis purchase. “We can’t tell you how many stories we’ve heard over the years of customers coming back to purchase Inis items after receiving a free sample — it’s literally been thousands!” she says. Some vendors also offer convenient kits to help retailers who want to set up a sample station of their products. Justin Gailitis, national sales manager at Flint, Michigan-based Country Home Creations, says his company offers a sampler starter kit specifically for retailers. The wholesaler’s chiller box comes with three dip mixes to taste test along with everything a retailer needs for a sample station, including an insulated box, reusable ice cubes, taster spoons and gloves for $78. “It’s a really easy way to get you set up to start sampling immediately,” Gailitis says of the chiller boxes.

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P R E S E N TAT I O N: S AM P L E S

Angie Bell, owner of Bella Sol Fragrance Bar & Gifts in Islamorada, Florida, has offered samples from Country Home Creations before as well as some

“Mother Ocean.” The Mother Ocean line includes candles, room sprays and diffusers, all of which can be tested at the sample table.

“Having testers for our scent-based items has been a game changer. For the guest, being able to smell the aroma is a selling point.” — WILLIAM HILL, MARGARITAVILLE RESORT ORLANDO other food items, such as honey and chocolates. Since Bella Sol is a oneperson operation, Bell says she can’t offer samples often. But, she adds, when she does it helps. “When you’re a single-person operation, it’s tough to manage everything. You have to keep your eyes on everything,” she explains. “But when I do sample, products sell faster. If you have the ability to do it, [offer a sample]. It does increase sales.” Margaritaville Resort Orlando always offers a sample table in its resort shop for its Resort Exclusive line of scents called

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“Having testers for our scent-based items has been a game changer,” says William Hill, resort store manager at Margaritaville Resort Orlando. “For the guest, being able to smell the aroma is a selling point.” SAFE SAMPLING SELLS

Sample stations certainly catch customers’ attention and boost sales, but they can get messy and require some staff attention. Also, heading into prime cold and flu season, some retailers might get nervous about hygiene concerns when offering sample stations. Although these

aspects of sample stations might seem overwhelming to busy seaside retailers, there are some things they can do to make these stations and offerings easy and hygienic. “Retailers will often say, ‘I would love to [have a sample station] but don’t have manpower,’” says Gailitis of Country Home Creations. “If you’re able to take a little bit of time before you open to prepack samples so someone can grab them and serve themselves in a safe way, that’s the optimal way to do it. Or, have [samples] at the register.” And for retailers concerned about hygiene, Country Home Creations offers a chiller box with dip mixes and other tools for a sample station.

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P R E S E N TAT I O N: S AM P L E S

Gailitis suggests retailers either set up individually packaged samples that customers can serve themselves or gloving up when a worker serves samples from the register.

customers. Or, she adds, they can make an event of it. If the retailer wants to promote new hot chocolate drink mixes for the winter season, they could offer a hot chocolate bar event for customers to

“People love to be given samples. They may come in and be the coldest person in the world, but you greet them and say, ‘Hey, we want to give you a sample,’ they really warm up to that.” — DAVE IVEY, HURRICANE DAVE’S GIFTS & COASTAL “People appreciate how safe you’re being. It makes a difference if people see you’re being very, very cautious and sample safely,” he explains. “It makes for a better experience. Safe sampling sells.” SIMPLE SAMPLING

To make sampling simple, Wagner explains that retailers don’t have to commit to sampling for the entire day, either. Maybe retailers pick a two-hour period every Saturday to offer samples either at a station or at the register to provide to

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try the different cocoa mixes before they buy them. “I think it’s reasonable for vendors to sponsor [a sampling] event,” she says. “I find that tastings are most effective when you make an event around it.” Wagner adds that retailers will also benefit when one person is the store’s “sample champion” who helps to promote, sanitize and restock samples. She advises finding someone besides the owner who can focus on the details to make the station more presentable.

And if a store is a one-person operation, she says, the retailer could ask a family member or close friend to volunteer to man a sample station on occasion. For Hurricane Dave’s, Ivey says he has a clerk who is always ready to offer customers free prepackaged lotion samples. “I have a clerk, her name is Nancy, she is on task with greeting anyone within 10 to 15 seconds as soon as they are in the store and to give them a sample from Inis and Naked Bee,” he says. He notes offering samples takes some cost and time, but “it’s well worth it.” “We may pay a little up front [for samples], but we recoup it,” says Ivey. “People love to be given samples. They may come in and be the coldest person in the world, but you greet them and say, ‘Hey, we want to give you a sample,’ they really warm up to that.” ENDLESS OPTIONS

When people think of samples, they likely think of finger foods and various

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P R E S E N TAT I O N: S AM P L E S

A pearl of an idea Customers enjoy when a shop offers a one-of-a-kind experience. Kyle Sweatman recognized that when he worked in merchandising for Silver Dollar City Attractions in Branson, Missouri, and began offering a pick-a-pearl station for customers to grab an oyster to pick their own pearl souvenir. Sweatman says the picka-pearl concept was so well received at Silver Dollar City that he decided to launch Island Pearl Traders to sell the do-it-yourself (DIY) pick-a-pearl experience to other retailers about a year ago. The wholesaler provides retailers with DIY kits that customers can purchase to take the pick-a-pearl experience home with them and make their own jewelry. “Every single item that we have has a QR code on the back of it that explains to customers [through a video] how to open an oyster,” says Sweatman. Island Pearl Traders can also help retailers figure out how to set up a station in their shops to cut the oysters and make the jewelry for their customers. While this approach requires staffing, Sweatman notes that going the extra step to open the oysters for customers can boost sales and draw more people to the store. “What we’ve found is customers want to be served,” he explains. “They don’t always want to take home the oyster. So, if you eliminate that portion of it, your sales drastically increase.” Sweatman concludes that offering DIY experiences resonates well with customers and helps them make fond memories.

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P R E S E N TAT I O N: S AM P L E S

health and beauty products. Wagner explains that retailers aren’t limited to just these two product categories when it

“Sampling is providing the ultimate customer service. You share something with them. It’s a whole different experience.” — CATHY DONOVAN WAGNER, RETAIL MAVENS comes to samples, though. “It’s only limited by your imagination,” she says. “If a woman takes three sweaters into a dressing room, that’s sampling. Trying things on is sampling. Or, there’s a line of socks called, ‘World’s Softest Socks.’ You feel [them] because [the package] tells you to. That’s sampling. All of that is sampling.” So, Wagner says, part of sampling is simply inviting customers to feel and try

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products in the store. She says retailers can even do this with accessories by setting up a mirror near the store’s jewelry so customers can see how they might look with a certain pair of earrings or necklace. In addition to traditional sampling, Hill says he encourages resort guests to try on clothing or test how far a ball can bounce at Margaritaville Resort Orlando’s shop. “I am a big believer in seeing is believing,” he says. “Feeling how soft a piece of clothing is or how high a ball can bounce goes a long way.” Hill says he likes to prop toys in his shop to encourage customers to pick them up. “A guest is more likely to purchase an item they can see and hold,” he says. Wagner adds that placing signage by a sample station can also draw customers to those products. She says the signs can help to tell a quick story about the product to personalize it.

She explains, “You can’t provide enough signage, especially when it shares the story of the brand or why you like it.” Although just about any product can be sampled, Wagner says retailers should be strategic with what they place at a designated sample station. She says sample stations work best with three products for guests to try. When there are too few products, customers might not be interested. On the other hand, Wagner acknowledges, presenting too many products at a sample station may overwhelm and confuse customers. “A confused mind will always say no,” she notes. “If you give people three things, they tend to want to make a decision.” In general, introducing customers to products they haven’t tried before through sampling can win people over to make a purchase. Wagner concludes, “Sampling is providing the ultimate customer service. You share something with them. It’s a whole different experience.”

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C O A S TAL C O N N E C T I O N

PATRICE FORRISTER’S PERSPECTIVE ON

Cave stores: Displaying the merchandise is just as important as showcasing relics and artifacts that tell the story that visitors come to see.

e Stor e v a C The A lla, C o J a L

STORY BY CHRISTINE SCHAFFRAN PHOTOS: ROBYN SCHERER PHOTOGRAPHY

MORE THAN A STORE

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umor has it that L. Frank Baum once visited in the 1930s. When “The Wizard of Oz” writer descended the tunnel that took two Chinese immigrants five months to chisel with a pick ax and a shovel, he marveled how the cave silhouette resembled Sunny Jim, a cereal mascot used to sell Wheat Flakes. “The silhouette was really very similar,” says Patrice Forrister, the buyer for The Cave Store. “But in the ’80s, the rock fell and formed [more of] a chin, but before, he really looked like Sunny Jim. And that’s how he got his name.” On the side of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, California, a wood-shingled building houses a 1,200-square-foot gift shop known as The Cave Store. Welcome to the longest-running store in La Jolla. Oh, and by the way — it’s the entrance to a sea cave that was reportedly used by bootleggers and smugglers. More on that later. The Cave Store stocks a unique selection of shells and other statement pieces for customers.

74 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

MADE FOR MERCHANDISING

The Cave Store is more than the final destination to collect souvenirs and gifts before heading home — it’s the destination. And with a history as storied and unique as this, the souvenirs had better be, too. “We try to get very unique shells, or at least I try to get statement pieces. I do have a girl that works on the shells since I can’t do that, too,” Forrister admits. The San Diego County resident, who has had her hand in retail for nearly 40 years, worked in legendary stores such Saks Fifth Avenue and the now-defunct Silver Skillet, and intuitively knows a good buy when she sees one. “I price everything realistically,” she notes. “I’ve got a history long enough to know what things are worth.” Anywhere from 300 to 600 customers pass through the doors daily to lay claim to sought-after finds. Items like wooden praying Buddha cats and dogs, essential oils, geodes, kimonos, hand-drawn stickers, dried flower earrings and pieces from Guatemala are the more unique souvenirs that Forrister really prides herself on. “I try to find companies that give back and donate money to research,” she says. “And we love name-drop items.” Given these prerequisites for space in the gift shop, Forrister www.seasideretailer.com



C O A S TAL C O N N E C T I O N

houses products from Life at Sea, which donates a portion of every sale to ocean and environmental conservation while Shore Buddies makes stuffed animals from recycled plastic bottles and donates $1 from every product purchase to save marine life, according to the company’s website. For new-age and metaphysical product designers, Forrister turns to Benjamin International.

displays are] aesthetically pleasing. You don’t want a whole bunch of ducks in a row,” she advises. “You want people to come in and see the items and say, ‘Wow, I really need that.’ And good-looking displays make a huge difference. They really do.” Tantalizing displays alone won’t always sell merchandise. Sometimes it takes help from unique settings or props. “We have a very eclectic mix of fur-

“You want people to come in and see the items and say, ‘Wow, I really need that.’ And good-looking displays make a huge difference. They really do.” — PATRICE FORRISTER SHOW AND TELL

But it’s not just the items for sale that Forrister believes captivates customers. Displaying the merchandise is just as important as showcasing relics and artifacts that tell the story that visitors come to see. “I just try to make sure that [the

76 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

niture and a lot of beautiful antiques that we use as displays,” Forrister says. “It’s very unconventional.” There are glass shelves, baskets and cubes to hold shells; the geodes and crystals glisten on a glass rounder sectioned off like a pie. But then there’s a big, old treasure chest for the children’s items

like the Shore Buddies, a helmet with barnacles that pays homage to the sea cave hiding below the gift shop, and the wall of fame — black-and-white photos that serve as a focal point for the legend that begins with 145 steps down. A STORIED PAST

In 1902, a German artist named Gustave Schultz hired immigrants to mine a tunnel from The Cave Store down through the sandstone cliffs of La Jolla Cove and into Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave, according to the gift shop website. “It’s been said that during Prohibition, bootleggers smuggled alcohol and opium into San Diego through the sea cave by carrying it through this tunnel,” the website explains. Among the 15 employees milling about in the gift shop every day is Tim Gonzales who runs “the line” of guests waiting to descend into the sea cave. “Tim, he’s our sole guy, he’s been here for 16 years,” Forrister notes. “He knows

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everything about the cave. He’s been a local for a long time.” Unofficially, Gonzales is the soothing voice that calms patrons while they wait in line to take the plunge into the cave. He reads the safety waiver, takes guests’ names and directs them to begin the long march down the lighted path to the cave. ARTISTIC FINDS

Top sellers at The Cave Store include handmade treasures and the jewelry. “We do really well with our jewelry. We have two girls that also make jewelry for the owner and [people] get excited because they’re one-of-a-kind pieces,” Forrister notes. Forrister says she also tries to support and buy local and in-state with SF Mercantile, with the “SF” being short for “San Francisco.” A DEBT OF GRATITUDE

Forrister credits the owner, Shannon Smith, for allowing her to use creative

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Among the store’s extensive selection is a wall of fame, featuring black-and-white photos.

freedom in creating displays and other showstoppers for the last 15 years. Smith took over as owner after her husband, Jim, passed away. Forrister adds that she’s proud of the work that she’s done in “bringing in new products and figuring out what the

people want and what they want to fly home with,” but she’s even happier to see local residents buying and shopping in the gift shop. “It’s just such a great place,” Forrister says. “I’m really, really lucky that I landed here.”

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C O A S TAL C O N N E C T I O N

JIM MCMILLAN’S PERSPECTIVE ON

Cave stores: Keep the good time visitors are having going for them inside the retail shop.

s Cave n o i Sea L e, OR c n e Flor

STORY BY CHRISTINE SCHAFFRAN PHOTOS: DAN HABERLY PHOTOGRAPHY

A RECORD-SETTING EXPERIENCE

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hen the Guinness Book of Records weighs in on a topic to award a title of distinction, it’s quite a reputation to live up to. So being known as America’s largest sea cave had better show visitors all that it has to offer — and it does. From the sea-lion sanctuary below ground to the take-home treasures above ground, the experience begins with a 208-foot descent in an elevator. Located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon, Sea Lion Caves is the year-round home of the Steller Sea Lion, according to cave’s official website. “One of the owners’ grandmothers would take groups of people down to the cave before there was an elevator,” says Jim McMillan, general manager of the Sea Lion Caves Gift Shop. The elevator made its debut in 1961. And while the exact date of the gift shop is not immediately clear, photos of the 1950s and 1960s show the existing cream-colored The Sea Lion Caves Gift Shop offers unique items not found in other stores along the coast.

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building perched on a cliff along U.S. Highway 101 high above the cavern believed to stand about 12 stories high. For McMillan, the place was love at first sight. He landed a job there at 16 years old working summers in the parking lot, graduating to cave attendant, and eventually climbing to his current position. All told, he’s dedicated 20 years of his career to the cave operation. “I just love this place,” he says. “The views, the atmosphere. Most of the people coming through here, they’re having a good time already, and we’re just going to keep that going for them. There’s people from the Midwest that have never seen the Pacific Ocean, and the views all along the Oregon coast are just beautiful.” SALES IN THE STORE

The self-guided tour begins and ends at the gift shop building, which also serves as the operation’s headquarters for its 22 employees. Once inside, visitors are immediately beckoned by the smell of gourmet treats and snacks. “The first thing you probably smell is the popcorn,” McMillan notes. “We make our popcorn here, and then we have fudge that we make in the shop as well.” www.seasideretailer.com



C O A S TAL C O N N E C T I O N

Among the wood-paneled walls lined with hanging T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and jackets are spinners loaded with jewelry, sunglasses, magnets, keychains, I Love Sea Lion Caves stickers, windchimes, toys and stuffed animals. Meanwhile, glass cubes prop up more delicate

the destination and shop are etched into the minds of guests as they walk down Memory Lane. “Some people remember coming here when they were little kids,” McMillan shares. “I talk to a lot of people who were here 50 years ago and we’re still here.” These days, the operation is in the hands of the third generation of two of three families who originally turned the spot into a business and tourist destination in the 1930s. In 1958, the revolutionary elevator shaft project began that delivered the site to the masses. Before the elevator, the trek to the cave was long and treacherous and for some — impossible. Today, “the elevator has a capacity of 23 passengers, a descent of 208 feet and a travel rate of 250 feet per minute,” the website states. Once the doors open, McMillan notes, guests are greeted by an unexpected smell. “The smell of the sea lions,” he says of the one comment he hears the most. “When they’re full in the cave.”

80 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

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like they are disappearing into the ocean below and sea turtles with outstretched flippers, ready to take on the waves that continuously meet the shoreline. Prairie Mountain Screening and Dynasty Wholesalers top the list of go-to vendors that supply the T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and hats that “We try to find a lot of unique items are capturing the attention of guests at the shop. McMillan because you’ll see a lot of shops up notes that part of traveling for and down the coast that have the the job is to seek out “artists that can make unique brands same items.” — JIM MCMILLAN with the Sea Lion Caves’ glass platters, plates and serving dishes artwork on it.” — most adorning sea turtles, crabs, “People want to take a shot glass whales and other marine life. home or sometimes people buy high-end “We try to find a lot of unique items items,” he says. “Sometimes they just because you’ll see a lot of shops up and want to have something from Sea Lion down the coast that have the same items Caves that has our name on it that’s a and we’ll have some of that, but I also … collectible.” travel with the owners to gift shows [to] MAGNETIC ATTRACTION find things that are unique,” he says. And just what is it that draws people There are the stone figurines that feain? In addition to the cave’s rich history, ture designs like whale tails made to look


C O A S TAL C O N N E C T I O N

Once past the initial shock of the stench, guests move on to enjoy the view of the main cavern — a room with a floor area of nearly two acres and a vaulted rock dome about 125 feet high, the website notes. While the sea-level cave serves as home and breeding ground to sea lions, it’s no stranger to other wildlife. “We have much more to offer than the sea lions,” McMillan points out. “The cave itself is an awesome attraction. We get different migratory birds. I saw some gray whales today. We’re an excellent vanSea Lion Caves’ gift shop is full of collectibles, including shot glasses, books, shells and name-drop items. tage point to watch for whales. singing in the cave. He says the sound of beautiful. We’re on top of the ocean, you Occasionally, we’ll see orcas come by and migratory birds singing in the cave is like can see the lighthouse to the north of us,” that’s pretty special.” music to his ears, signifying another ophe explains. “Right now, I’m watching sea McMillan says he has learned to portunity to share this hallowed ground lions play out in the water. Bald eagles — follow the seasons according to when the with new visitors. we pretty much see those almost every 2,400-pound bulls first appear in spring “And one thing here is the view. It’s so day. It’s pretty awesome.” as well as the patterns of migratory birds

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NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023 SEASIDE RETAILER 81


C O A S TAL C O N N E C T I O N

BRENDA SHIRAH’S PERSPECTIVE ON

Cave stores: Treat your employees well and they will treat your customers well.

s vern a C ida Flor a, FL n n a i Mar

STORY BY CHRISTINE SCHAFFRAN PHOTOS: MATTOX STUDIOS

DIGGING FOR TREASURES

I

n 1935, the state of Florida acquired the land that is now known as Florida Caverns State Park in the Panhandle near Marianna. While employees of the Civilian Conservation Corps began the heavy lifting to construct the limestone building that would become the gift shop on the site, Robert DeGroot made his way into the world that same year. Eventually, he became a ranger at the park and when he retired, he ran the gift shop. As DeGroot got older and needed help, his daughter, Brenda Shirah retired from the military and moved back to Florida along with her daughter who had just graduated high school. When he passed away in 2021 at the age of 86, Shirah took over officially as the new owner. “And I’ve been running it since,” she says. The retired United States Air Force “weather girl” says the tale of the familyowned business began in 1976 when she was a little girl. “I’m not 100% sure when the gift shop began; it started off really, really small,” she The Florida Caverns Gift Shop carries a variety of affordable and locally made items.

82 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

recalls. “It was upstairs in the museum where people used to check in for their tours. They had a cabinet with a few little trinkets and eventually they moved downstairs.” In 2002, the gift shop opened in its current location for the only state park where visitors can take a guided tour through a cave system to “see spectacular examples of cave formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstone,” the official website boasts. Sixty-five feet below the surface, visitors explore the endless rooms that make up the three-quarter-mile-long tour conducted by a fleet of 18 employees — most of whom begin their career journey with Shirah at 15 or 16 years old. “These kids have to learn all about geology. They have to learn the whole history of this park,” she says of her employees. “They have to know where everything is in this park, how the cave was discovered, how it was made and who found it. They even have to know who the president was back then so they have to know their history.” LOCAL CONNECTIONS

When they’re not conducting cave tours, employees are busy in the gift shop helping customers pick out their favorite T-shirts, magnets, toys, books, stone animals, jewelry, backpacks, ranger www.seasideretailer.com



C O A S TAL C O N N E C T I O N

vests, walking sticks, mugs, helmets, lanterns, postcards, stuffed animals, crystals, patches, pins and of course — the cool treats. “My top-selling item, believe it or not, is ice cream,” Shirah notes. “Especially in the summer. And slushies.” It’s no wonder, seeing as the gift shop’s target demographics are fifth and sixth graders. “That’s usually the age group that they come in as a school,” Shirah explains. “And when the parents are

Florida Caverns Gift Shop offers products at reasonable prices for guests.

84 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

bringing their kids, that’s usually the age that they’re bringing them.” For this reason, Shirah says, she tries to make sure her toys and crafts are educational and have some tie to nature, such as the National Geographic volcano and crystal building kits, books written by a local historian, and even a treasure map that is as accurate as it is fun. Among the most important criteria for selecting items for the shop, Shirah says, are reasonable prices and products that are locally sourced whenever possible. Her go-to roster includes a Native American who makes items for her that sell “as fast as they come in,” a female artist who makes T-shirts “right here in town,” a small business that makes homemade honey butter, and Silver Streak, a local vendor that not only supplies stone animals and shark’s teeth but hires individuals with disabilities. Shirah adds she tries to keep her prices competitive with those of big-box stores and chains to help community

members save money. “During Christmas a lot of the locals will come and they’ll purchase their Christmas gifts here,” she says. “So I try to get Paw Patrol and this and that, and I try to get as cheap as I can so they save money instead of going to Walmart.” When it comes to wholesale items, Shirah says Squire Boone Village and Wilcor International are at the top of her list for the most popular items, which currently include lapel pins and magnets. While she normally sells hoodies and long-sleeve shirts, Shirah decided to switch it up this year and buy zip-up hoodies to try something different. T-shirts are the most popular, however, because as Shirah notes, “It’s usually hot.” YEAR-ROUND PERFECTION

Even the cave, which holds steady around 68 degrees, is very humid yearround. However, the former weather forecaster notes, it’s always the perfect temperature down there.

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“During Christmas a lot of the locals will come up here and they’ll purchase their Christmas gifts here.” — BRENDA SHIRAH “[In the summer] the real field temp in the cave is about 73 so it feels nice and refreshing,” she explains. “In the winter when it is 30 degrees outside, and you go down into the cave and it’s 68 degrees with a real field temp of 73, it feels really warm.” Thirty-three steps and a walk down a sloping hill delivers guests to the beginning of the tour and the lowest point of the cave in the Introduction Room. This is also where Shirah’s employees shine as they take the lead in guiding guests through the various rooms of the cave. “When you’re in that room, that is where the tour guide’s going to start your story,” she notes. “Because when you’re going through the cave, they tell you a story. They explain how [the cave] used to be part of the ocean, and they talk about how [it] was formed.” Past the area called the “tuck and squeeze,” guests take in the Wedding Room where Shirah notes they do host weddings, and she has officiated several of them. The tour winds on, through the Fracture Room, the South America Room, the Waterfall Room, the Enchanted Forest, the Discovery Room, the Cathedral Room, the catacombs, the Round Room, the Y, Tall-Man’s Torture, to the Exit Room. All the while, the tour guides are recreating the story of how the cave was discovered, explaining the various minerals and educating guests on stalactites, stalagmites, columns, formations, fractures and all the little tidbits of information that enlighten and entertain the crowd. And the most common question from guests? “Are there bats?” Shirah says with a laugh. “And yes, there are bats.”

The gift shop’s merchandise appeals to the fifth and sixth grade demographic.

All jokes aside, it is here where the secret to the success of the Florida Caverns gift shop is revealed — in the strength of the workforce that works tirelessly to answer guests’ questions.

Shirah says her close-knit relationships with her employees make all the difference in the day-to-day operations. “If you treat your employees well, your employees are going to treat the guests well,” she explains. “And 99 percent of the guests will treat the employees well right back.” Shirah notes the reason she likes to hire younger individuals is to “get them before they have bad habits,” and then invest the time to help them develop a skillset that they can use throughout their careers. She says she believes their duties help to build confidence that is evident in their direction as tour guides as well as their interactions with the guests. “They have to know how to control a crowd of up to 25 people. And they [do] public speaking,” she explains. “The job is really an excellent opportunity for these children. When they get older, they have an advantage over everybody else.” In slower times in the winter, Shirah says she rotates employees so that each one has an opportunity to be manager on duty on weekends. “They do schedules, everything,” she says. “It’s important that they learn these skills, you know? How else are they [going to] get it?” And in return, her employees pledge their loyalty and appreciation by doing a good job and pouring their acquired skills into the heart of her business. “I’ve been very successful. These kids, they start with me at 15, 16; If they go to college here, they stay with me up until they find their careers, and I encourage them to go on and get a career,” she says. “I don’t have a very high turnaround. Once I get my employees, I keep them.”

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NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023 SEASIDE RETAILER 85

THE GOLDEN RULE


Dec. 1-3 GTS Greensboro Expo Greensboro, North Carolina www.gtshows.com

Jan. 8-10 CMC LA Market Week / Kids Market Los Angeles www.californiamarketcenter. com/lamarketweek

Dec. 1-3 Dallas Jewelry & Bead Show Grapevine, Texas www.aksshow.com

Jan. 10-12 Surf Expo Orlando, Florida www.surfexpo.com

Dec. 3-6 Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show Myrtle Beach, South Carolina www.grandstrandgiftshow.com

Jan. 10-16 Dallas Total Home & Gift Market Dallas www.dallasmarketcenter.com

Dec. 4-5 Midwest Market Days Chicago River Grove, Illinois www.midwestmarketdays.com

Jan. 14-6 NRF Retail’s Big Show New York City www.nrfbigshow.nrf.com

Dec. 4-5 TMC: The Merchandise Center Chicago & Schiller Park, Illinois www.tmcexpo.com

Jan. 16-22 Atlanta Market Atlanta www.atlantamarket.com

JANUARY

Jan. 17-19 Alaska Wholesale Gift Show Anchorage, Alaska www.alaskagiftshow.com

Jan. 3-5 The ASI Show Orlando, Florida www.asishow.com Jan. 8-9 Midwest Market Days Chicago River Grove, Illinois www.midwestmarketdays.com

Feb. 6-9 Atlanta Apparel at Americasmart Atlanta www.americasmart.com

Jan. 28-Feb. 1 Las Vegas Market Las Vegas www.lasvegasmarket.com

Feb. 13-14 Midwest Market Days Chicago River Grove, Illinois www.midwestmarketdays.com

Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Mid-Atlantic Merchandise Mart Philadelphia www.midatlanticmart.com

Feb. 13-15 Las Vegas Apparel Market Las Vegas www.lasvegas-apparel.com

FEBRUARY Feb. 4-6 Philadelphia Gift Show Oaks, Pennsylvania www.philadelphiagiftshow.com Feb. 4-6 Shoppe Object New York www.shoppeobject.com Feb. 4-7 NY NOW New York City www.nynow.com

Jan. 19-21 Impressions Expo – Long Beach Long Beach, California www.impressionsexpo.com

86 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Feb. 20-22 The Gathering West San Diego www.thegatheringevent.com Feb. 23-25 GTS Florida Expo Kissimmee, Florida www.gtshows.com Feb. 23-25 Dallas Winter Gem, Jewelry & Bead Show Grapevine, Texas www.aksshow.com

DA TE

DECEMBER

Jan. 27-Feb. 4 Gem, Jewelry & Lapidary Trade Show Tucson, Arizona www.glwshows.com

E

Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show

Feb. 4-7 Rocky Mountain Apparel, Gift and Resort Show Denver www.rockymountainshow.com

TH

DEC. 3-6

Jan. 21-24 StorePoint Fashion & StorePoint Retail San Diego www.cpmgevents.com

SA VE

SA VE

TH

E

DA TE

E V E N T S C AL E N DAR

JAN. 10-12 Surf Expo

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EVENTS COVERAGE

Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show welcomes a diverse range of buyers and exhibitors The 2023 Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show welcomed thousands of buyers in early October who were looking to stock their stores in time for the 2024 season. Around 1,300 vendors, including approximately 150 new exhibitors, more entertainment and an added Lifestyle Product Area, gave the show a refreshed vibe. The show attracts buyers from all over the country as well as buyers from zoos, aquariums, resorts, national parks, museums and more. “September and October is the timing for the industry,” said Lisa Berry, Clarion group vice president, gift and souvenir. “This is their time to do their buying to get their merchandise in time for next year, especially if they do imports. It also gives exhibitors enough time to develop product and get it ready.” Greg Robitaille, founder and president of Xplorer Maps, said the Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show is the best show of the year for his company. “Alaska and Hawaii buyers seem to flock to this Snowglobe Jewelry of Calgary, Alberta, received the Best New Product award show,” he observed. during the show. The new Lifestyle Product Area featured top lifestyle brands, resort wear and accessories. The area featured brands like Sun Bum, Sand Cloud, Pura Vida Bracelets, Optic Nerve Eyewear, Fahlo and Charming Shark Tropical Accessories. “We are very focused on souvenir and resort. Lifestyle is a segment of that, and we’ve never had them before,” added Berry. “We are hoping it will attract more resorts and companies that did not know about the show.” Another notable section of the show floor was the Native American Pavilion, featuring around 15 exhibitors showcasing handmade art, jewelry and pottery. Berry said the category is unique to the show and that it’s one many national parks seek out. Snowglobe Jewelry, an exhibitor from Calgary, Alberta, was awarded Best New Product during the show. The company preserves snowflakes and makes them into jewelry. The next Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show takes place Sept. 17-20, 2024, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Little Box Guy wins Best New Product Award at Ocean City Resort Gift Expo Little Box Guy, an Orlando, Florida-based wholesaler, was the recipient of the Best New Product Award at the Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, which took place Oct. 29-31 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This family business was inspired by a character drawing of “Little Box Guy” that company president Christina Bell, show director, awards Little Box Guy president Nick Ortiz with Nick Ortiz created when he was a kid. According the Best New Product Award. to the company website, Little Box Guy is “your inner child” that keeps your imagination and creativity fresh. Products in the line include T-shirts, headwear, stickers, keychains, animal tins, lanyards, air fresheners and Croc charms. This was the company’s first time exhibiting at the Ocean City Resort Gift Expo. “The experience was amazing,” says Ortiz. “It was good to see people up North because we hadn’t had that exposure yet.” In being considered for the award, Ortiz says attendees at the show were asked which brand stood out to them. He notes that a majority of attendees said that Little Box Guy was one of the best new brands they had found at the show. And it wasn’t just the products that drew attendees in. Ortiz says, “Our booth and retail display racks are very vibrant and eye-catching, which grab a lot of attention.” 88 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Atlanta Market expands buying opportunities in Winter 2024 Atlanta Market is set to present the biggest in-person buying opportunity of the Winter 2024 season with more than 6,000 brands leveraging pioneering products and a robust roster of revamped education and celebration for retailers and buyers. Registration is now open for Atlanta Market, which takes place Jan. 16-22, 2024, at AmericasMart Atlanta. “As we look ahead to the next edition of Atlanta Market, we are delivering on the promise to provide the best products and experiences within our showrooms and throughout our campus,” says Bob Maricich, CEO of ANDMORE. “With opportunities at every corner to discover and learn from and alongside industry mavens, Atlanta Market is poised to be a can’tmiss this winter.” At Atlanta Market, buyers can round out the Market experience across four days of programming, complete with seminars and fireside chats, product displays, cooking demonstrations and photo activations. Atlanta Market resources continue to expand in several key categories — seasonal gift, LUXE home decor, soft goods and immediate delivery — along with continued growth in Casual/Outdoor furnishings for the Winter 2024 Market season. Winter 2024 highlights include an added LUXE component as temporary home relocates to Building 2, Floor 2, augmented Cash & Carry resources and the remerchandising of The Gardens. A full list of Atlanta Market exhibitors, is available at www.atlantamarket. com/exhibitor/exhibitor-directory.

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EVENTS COVERAGE

Las Vegas Market Winter event to showcase over 4,000 new product lines

October Atlanta Apparel reports strong order writing Atlanta Apparel’s full Spring/Summer ’24 market showcased the newest fashions for the coming season and brought a wealth of buyers and brands together, Oct. 10- 14, at AmericasMart Atlanta. Top categories at the event included shoes, resort and denim. The October edition of Atlanta Apparel showcased over 3,150 brands across permanent showrooms and temporary exhibits. It attracted attendees predominantly from the southeast region, with growth in western and international attendance. Exhibitors reported strong order writing this October, with many brands noting an uptick in walk-by traffic, bringing in new business alongside continuing relationships. “We have been at AmericasMart over 30 years. For this market, we had a typical amount of appointments but as the week continued, we’ve had more foot traffic than usual,” said Paula Hyman, owner of Michael and Paula Hyman Showroom. Buyers raved about the range of products available across Atlanta Apparel’s temporary exhibits and permanent showrooms. “Atlanta is more fun than any other market we have been to, and the dates work perfectly with our schedule,” said Grace Keen, owner of Peachy Keen Boutique in Cape Girardeau and Dexter, Missouri. The next Atlanta Apparel market takes place Tuesday, Feb. 6 to Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, at AmericasMart Atlanta. Starting in 2024, both Atlanta Apparel’s permanent showrooms and temporary exhibits will open Tuesday and close Friday.

90 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Registration is open for Las Vegas Market, a premier West Coast buying event with gift, home decor and furniture offerings along with cutting-edge programming and events. The market, which is hosted by ANDMORE, takes place Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2024, at World Market Center Las Vegas. “The cross-category resources available to buyers at Las Vegas Market are unbeatable, delivering the most on-trend, high-quality products on the West Coast,” says Bob Maricich, CEO of ANDMORE. “With a brand-new emphasis on better home furnishings, enhanced gift offerings and world-class programming augmenting showroom exploration, Las Vegas Market is not to be missed this winter.” ANDMORE says some 4,000 gift, home decor and furnishings lines are set to unveil new products in showrooms and temporary exhibits across four buildings at World Market Center Las Vegas in Winter 2024. The event’s permanent showroom collection in Buildings A, B and C adds new offerings in branded showrooms and sales agencies. In home furnishings, 28 floors of permanent showrooms provide home furnishings and bedding resources. According to ANDMORE, highlights include the debut of a new design-driven destination, bringing 11 better furniture brands to B2. In Building C, six floors house permanent gift showrooms. ANDMORE says winter highlights will include continued development of C11 as a resource for leading lifestyle lines with the addition of One Hundred 80 Degrees/Glitterville in a new corporate showroom. The event will feature gift and home resources in six categories: Design, Gift, Handmade, Home, Immediate Delivery and LUXE. Attendees can also benefit from what ANDMORE calls innovative programming to round out the at-market experience with education and events. In-person seminars, webinars, awards and events supplement showroom exploration at the event. ANDMORE says the event will include CEU-accredited seminars led by industry experts, on-trend product displays, photo wall activations and daily amenities across the World Market Center campus. Additionally, ANDMORE says it will continue to offer its @Market App for attendees after its successful launch in Summer 2023. The app helps to maximize and complement buying activities, offering scan and go technology to help with badge pickup, showroom sorting and a recap guide for the event.

Total Home & Gift Market to offer new, expanded showrooms Dallas Market Center has announced that the Total Home & Gift Market will feature more than 30 new and expanded home and design exhibitors at the event, which takes place Jan. 10-16, 2024, in Dallas. Among the showrooms in Home and Design, Dallas Market Center is welcoming new brands and supporting the expansion of partners. Some changes and expansions for this event include: • Surya is moving into a new space in the Interior Home + Design Center (IHDC) 1D321. • Bernhardt Interiors and Tomlinson furniture will join the MC Studio showroom in IHDC 2F160. • Shadow Catchers has moved into its own showroom, located in World Trade Center (WTC) 194 across from Visual Comfort & Co. • Visual Comfort & Co. is expanding its showroom in IHDC 1D11. • Novart recently relocated to an atrium showroom, WTC 190. • Ashore recently relocated and expanded in WTC 531. • French Market will debut a new showroom in IHDC 2F127, 2F133. Other recent expansions include Ethan & Associates in WTC 9008; Designers Patio in WTC 9009; Swank in WTC 9010 + 9014; Sonoran Range in IHDC 1D301; Danny’s Fine Porcelain in IHDC 1D409; and Fosters print in IHDC 1D101.

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R E TAI L E R R E F L E C T I O N S

The right people love the products you sell. They identify and relate to your unique messaging, core values and mission statement. CLARIFY WHO YOU ARE

T

he purpose of your marketing strategy and the time and money you put into it is to get new customers so you can increase sales. But contrary to what many retailers believe, the answer is not to advertise to everyone. It’s also not to cast the biggest and widest net by showing up on all the social media platforms. In fact, these are the biggest marketing mistakes you could make. When I opened my first store, I thought everyone was my customer. I had a kid’s boutique, and everyone either has a child or knows a child, right? Therefore, everyone was my customer! So in an effort to reach as many people

as possible — I advertised as broadly as my budget and time allowed, but that wasn’t the right advertising strategy and I almost lost my store! Because here’s the thing — you don’t need all the people to shop your store. You need more of the right people. The right people love the products you sell. They identify and relate to your unique messaging, core values and mission statement. You’re never going to appeal to everyone. But you are going to appeal to the right people — your ideal customers. If you’ve been targeting everyone, you’re not alone, and you’re not doomed. Turning your marketing success around comes down to just two steps: 1. Clarifying who you are 2. Clarifying who your ideal customer is

IDENTIFY YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER

When you aim to reach everyone, you end up targeting no one. You have to be clear on who your ideal customer is. Start with your general demographics, but then go beyond. Ask yourself: • Where do they prefer to shop? • How do they prefer to shop? • What matters to them? • Which social media platforms do they use? • Which five words do they love to use? • Which five words would they never use? YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY

Once you’ve clarified these two things, make sure all customer experiences stay true to your brand. The words you use when communicating with customers will either attract or repel your ideal customer, so be intentional about staying within your brand voice, and you’ll know how to best design and merchandise your store or website, because you know what will speak to and attract your ideal customer.

CATHY DONOVAN WAGNER guides retailers to grow their sales so they can pay themselves and their staff. Watch how here: www.retailmavens.com/increasesales. 92 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

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© ADOBE STOCK | KIATTISAK

HOW TO GET NEW CUSTOMERS

At first glance, all gift stores seem to be just that — stores that sell gifts. But make no mistake: You’re different from other stores that sell the same type of inventory and carry the same vendors. To clarify who you are, ask yourself: • What do you love about your store? • What values permeate your business? • What criteria do you use when deciding which products to carry? • What feeling does the design (colors/ merchandising/lighting/music) of your store inspire?



PRODUCT SHOWCASE

On our radar Looking for something new to offer? Here are some fresh ideas. Fiesta Smile when you carry this recycled stock tote bag featuring the beloved axolotl. www.fiestatoy.com

Uniquely Coastal Image of the tranquil sea will fit right in with any beach or nautical home and office.

Joseph K & Company Argh! Jolly Saint Nick is claiming his pirate treasure on your Christmas tree.

www.uniquelycoastal.com

www.josephk.com

Beach Memories Jewelry Caribbean Memories Collection earrings are reminiscent of the Caribbean Sea. www.beachmemoriesjewelry.com

The Beach and Back Silver and marine blue wave bracelet is a mini vacation for your wrist. www.thebeachandback.com

Malibu Beach Gear All-in-one personal cooler tote bag is the last bag you’ll ever need. www.malibubeachgear.com

Cape Shore Combine your love of the sea with your love of coffee with this beautiful sea turtle mug. www.cape-shore.com

Town Pride Custom, USA-made name-drop sweater is soft, stylish and customizable. www.townpride.com

Anchor Works Enjoy the beach without the hassle with this innovative umbrella/anchor design. www.shopanchorworks.com

Have a product you would like featured? Send a high-res image and description to: kristin@breakwallpublishing.com.

94 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

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AD I N D E X A.T. Storrs Ltd. – www.atstorrs.com.............................................................. 27

Kate Shore – www.kateshoreart.com..........................................................36

Allison Cole Jewelry – www.allisoncolejewelry.com........................... 31

Kurt S. Adler – www.kurtadler.com................................................................. 3

ABW Designs – www.abw-designs.com...................................................... 12 American Gift Corp. – www.agiftcorp.com................................................ 75 American Style Sunglasses –

Kay Hova Art – www.kaylinhovance.com...................................................37 Las Vegas Market – www.lasvegasmarket.com......................................93 Lay and Stay – www.layandstaybeachtowels.com...............................20

www.americanstylesunglasses.com..................................................... 44

Line + Cleat – www.lineandcleat.com........................................................ 44

Anju Jewelry – www.anjujewelry.com..........................................................76

Madd Capp – www.maddcappgames.com................................................37

Anchor Works Enterprise – www.shopanchorworks.com................22 Atlanta Market – www.atlantamarket.com.............................................. 91 Bags by Bruno – www.bagsbybruno-nj.com.................................... 31, 53

Little Box Guy – www.littleboxguy.com......................................................37 Marine Life Rescue Project

www.marineliferescueproject.org......................................................... 46

Bali Queen – www.baliqueen.com................................................................ 13

Melissa Lew – www.melissalew.com............................................................37

Bamboo Source Tropical Decor

Net and Hand – www.zatarabartoni.com...................................................38

Bali Y'all – www.baliyall.com............................................................................32 www.bambootropicaldecor.com......................................................32, 73

Beach Biscuit – www.beachbiscuit.com...................................................... 5 Beach Memories Jewelry –

Nau-T-Girl Jewelry – www.nau-t-girl.com.................................................10 Nomadic State of Mind – www.nomadicstateofmind.com..............38 Ocean Jewelry – www.oceanjewelrystore.com........................................71

Patsy Kane – www.patsykane.com.................................................................71

www.beachmemoriesjewelry.com......................................................... 17

Patti Biggs – www.pattibiggs.com.................................................................24

www.beaverdamwoodworks.com................................................... 64-65

Printed Hues – www.printedhues.com...................................................... 60

BoldB Jewelry – www.boldb.com.................................................................. 84

Rockflowerpaper – www.rockflowerpaper.com.....................................55

Butler Hill & Co. – www.butlerhill.net.........................................................81

Sea Lark Enterprises – www.soaplift.com............................................... 50

Beaver Dam Woodworks –

Bodyguard Bugspray – www.bodyguardbugspray.com.....................47 Brass Reminders – www.brassreminders.com......................................... 2 Caloosa WaterWear – www.shopcaloosa.com............................... 32, 60 Cape Clasp – www.capeclasp.com................................................................32 Cape Cod Chokers – www.capecodchokers.com.................................. 80

Powder Pouch – www.powderpouch.com...............................................38 Retail Rehab – www.retail-rehab.com........................................................95

Sassy Talkin’ – www.sassytalkin.shop.........................................................62 Seahorse Snacks – www.seahorsesnacks.com......................................38 Seaside Retailer Magazine –

www.seasideretailer.com.....................................................................85, 97

Cape Shore – www.cape-shore.com.....................................................33, 79

ShipShapeStyles – www.shipshapestyles.com.................................... 80

Cotz Skincare – www.cotzskincare.com.....................................................33

Shower Candy – www.showercandy.com..................................................39

www.countryhomecreations.com................................................... 33, 68

Slippery Elm – www.slipelm.com...........................................................39, 67

Destination Jewelry – www.destinationjewelry.com............................9

Sugared Mango – www.sugaredmango.com...........................................63

Charming Shark – www.charmingshark.com..........................................33 Country Home Creations –

Crystal Media – www.crystalmediaco.com...............................................83

Devi and Co. – www.deviandco.boutique..................................................34 Dune Jewelry & Co. – www.dunejewelry.com.................................15, 34

Fancy That Gift & Decor – www.fancythatgift.com........................12, 34 First & Main – www.firstandmain.com................................................ 34, 43

Flopeeze International USA Inc. – www.flopeeze.com.............. 35, 49

ShoreBags – www.shorebags.com................................................................39

Simply Chickie – www.www.simplychickieclothing.com...................39 Stonington Designs – www.stoningtondesigns.com.................. 25, 40

Surf Expo – www.surfexpo.com..................................................................... 89 Tangico – www.tangicousa.com..................................................................... 40

The Beach and Back – www.thebeachandback.com .................26, 40 The Cottonseed Marketplace

www.cottonseedmarketplace.com................................................... 8, 40

GCI Waterside – www.gciwaterside.com.................................................100

The Grecian Soap Co. – www.greciansoap.com.....................................63

Grace Graffiti – www.gracegraffiti.com.......................................................35

The Wellington Michael Collection

Gift for Life – www.giftforlife.org....................................................................70 Grand Strand Gift & Resort Expo

The Petting Zoo – www.pettingzooplush.com........................................45 www.wellingtonmichael.com.................................................................... 77

www.grandstrandgiftshow.com...............................................................87

Town Pride – www.townpride.com.......................................... Cover, 41, 57

Impulse Souvenirs – www.impulsesouvenirs.com...................... 35, 99

Trihard – www.trihard.co.....................................................................................11

HS Seashells – www.hsseashells.com.......................................................... 7 Inis the Energy of the Sea – www.inisfragrance.com.........................35 Island Haus Co. – www.islandhausco.com...............................................36 Jackie Gallagher Designs

TownWear – www.mytownwear.com............................................................49 True Ocean LLC – www.trueoceanproducts.com............................41, 69

Turtle Tracks Family – www.turtletracksfamily.com........................... 50

Uniquely Coastal – www.uniquelycoastal.com...................................... 61

www.jackiegallagherdesigns.com................................................... 20, 36

Virtu Made – www.virtumade.com......................................................... 41, 72

Joseph K. & Co. LLC – www.josephk.com........................................... 36, 62

Xplorer Maps – www.xplorermaps.com.....................................................59

JD Yeatts/Chesapeake Bay – www.jdyeatts.com..................................23

96 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Wild Republic – www.wildrepublic.com..................................................... 41

www.seasideretailer.com



S TAR F I S H AWAR D

Winner: Tickled Pink Location: Bethany Beach, Delaware Co-owner: Elise Lindsey

PHOTOS

NAVARR

Tickled by generosity

When you own a local business, it’s important to support any opportunity that is local. We are finding that customers truly appreciate businesses that support local causes and groups.” — Elise Lindsey

Proceeds from merchandise sales at Tickled Pink benefit a different local charity each month.

SPONSORED BY:

: LAURA

Elise Lindsey had always dreamed of opening a seasonal retail shop in a beach community. When she and her family decided to retire to a beach home in Bethany Beach, Delaware, the timing felt just right. Helping to make this dream a reality was the “For Lease” sign she saw in the window of a local storefront. It was 2020 and COVID wasn’t in the rearview mirror yet, but Lindsey and her husband Michael Loftus were ready to hit the ground running. And giving back was always part of the business plan. SHOPPING WITH A PURPOSE. The name Lindsey had envisioned for her shop had always been Tickled Pink, and it included a tagline — Shopping with a Purpose. Tickled Pink is a saying and state of mind, according to Lindsey. She describes it as “when you are so giddy with excitement to find a great treasure as either a gift for you or someone you know.” Since opening in the spring of 2021, the store’s promise has been to gift at least $500 per month during the months the store is open, typically April through November. Tickled Pink tries to support a different local charity each month, including nonprofits such as Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company (BBVFC), Delaware Hospice and Operation SEAs the Day. The store also supports local events by providing raffle prizes and gift certificates when asked. “After three years in business, it is wonderful that our customers pop in and many times it’s the first thing they ask: ‘Who is this month’s charity?’” says Lindsey. In July, Tickled Pink presented a check for $6,800 to BBVFC from the sale of 136 retired Bethany Beach parking meters the retailer was able to sell in its shop. CATCHING ON WITH CUSTOMERS. Customers have been very supportive of Tickled Pink’s efforts, according to Lindsey. “There are some that come into our shop first to see if we have a gift that they are looking for because they know the trickle up effect of a portion of that sale staying in our community. We try to make a point of thanking each customer for their purchase and in the same breath we thank them and let them know they are supporting this month’s charity.” And, notes Lindsey, when another customer in the store overhears what charity a purchase supports, they say, “Oh, well now I have to buy something.”

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 www.seasideretailer.com/starfish-award.

98 SEASIDE RETAILER NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

www.seasideretailer.com

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