Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties - November/December 2023

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Themed gift shops delight thrill seekers who want to remember their experience.


Help customers remember their trips with jewelry that reflects their unique styles.


Retailers share their best techniques for showcasing hats and caps to boost sales.




Ad O vic A re e fo ND lat r io bu M ns yi U hi ng S ps a E wi nd UM th m ve ain Q nd ta & or ini A s. ng






Carrying on the timeless traditon of gift giving.



Discover the stores featured in this issue.



“Rocky” shop and Wild Republic make headlines.



Make plans to attend these upcoming trade shows.





Coverage from past and upcoming trade shows.

No visit to The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, would be complete without a stop inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame Store. Michelle Hunt talks about her 25-year journey with its retail operation.



Get fresh new product ideas for your store.

SOUVENIR FOCUS: Amusement Parks




Easily locate an advertiser’s ad and website.

Learn how amusement parks use themes to differentiate stores and make the buying experience even more enjoyable with every thrilling ride and attraction.





Q&A: Sustainability SSA Group focuses on responsibly sourcing products.


PRODUCT TREND: Souvenir Jewelry Jewelry options for all ages, styles and price-points.


PRODUCT TREND: Signs From silly to sentimental, signs are popular keepsakes.




MERCHANDISING: Hats & Caps Grouping hats makes selections easier.


RETAILER SPOTLIGHT: The Cave Store The Cave Store mixes antiques and old-world charm.



RETAILER SPOTLIGHT: Big Shark Big Shark has quite a history in the shark bite capital.


RETAILER SPOTLIGHT: Lucy Desi Museum Museum pays tribute to all that is “I Love Lucy.”


BUSINESS: Zoo and Museum Q&A Buyers share best advice for keeping stores stocked.


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Karen Carr Publisher & Creative Director 330-591-2575 Kristin Ely Executive Editor & Conference Director 858-684-7744 Christine Schaffran Associate Editor 216-272-7700

A timeless tradition


y mother grew up in the 1950s and was a big fan of the show “I Love Lucy.” I watched reruns of the classic sitcom with her so much as a child that I can still quote the show to this day. From time to time, I still watch the beloved television series. The other day, I happened to catch an episode titled “Home from Europe” where Lucy and the gang are headed home to New York from their weeks-long tour of Europe. Lucy, who has purchased several souvenirs, learns she can only take 66 pounds worth of luggage on the transcontinental flight. “You can’t come home from Europe without buying gifts for your friends,” Lucy laments to Fred before her hilarious scheme unfolds. As buyers, owners or managers of souvenir and gift stores, I am sure you hear similar comments all the time. Whether we are on a trip to Europe or stateside at a tourist attraction, there is an innate desire within us to share the experience with friends and family with a token from that special place we visited. What a great opportunity you have as a gift and souvenir shop manager or owner to help people pass along their great experiences with gifts for their loved ones. The Lucy Desi Museum in Jamestown, New York, is one of many amazing stores featured in this issue that helps fulfill that desire tourists have to not only remember their visit but spread that joy to friends and family. When you help a customer purchase that special memento for themselves or a loved one, you are carrying on a tradition as old as time itself, and it should make everyone involved in the transaction — you the seller, the customer (the buyer), and the recipient — feel good. I hope you enjoy this issue of Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties as you find out what products and ideas could help you enhance that store experience for your customers and help them carry on the longstanding tradition of giving. SGN

— Kristin Ely


Megan Smalley Associate Editor 330-576-9338 Debby Clarke Ad Production Coordinator & Graphic Designer 856-816-6346 Katie Turner Business Development Manager 219-206-1140 Larry White Marketing Director 610-324-2100 Jamie Winebrenner Sales Manager 330-269-5875 Hanna Meussling Accounts Receivable 330-368-2047 EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Kristen Hampshire Jennifer McEntee Christine Welman Website Development Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties is published six times a year by: Breakwall Publishing LLC 3593 Medina Rd. #117 Medina, OH 44256 Subscriptions and address changes: Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties magazine P.O. Box 3000 Denville, NJ 07834 Entire contents copyright 2023 Breakwall Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.


Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties interviews retailers in popular destinations all over the United States. These are the stores featured in the November-December 2023 issue. Albuquerque Museum Albuquerque, NM Maureen Ryan

Big Shark Daytona Beach, FL Tim Pace

Alpine Kind Beaver Creek, CO Sally January

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium Columbus, OH Emily May

Artisan House Northport Village, NY Ron Meyer Bandera General Store Bandera, TX Glen McComb Boulevard Souvenirs Memphis, TN Renae Roberts

Forest Edge Gift Shoppe Gaines, PA Laurie Naugle Frazzleberries Newport, RI Katie Schlichting Knoebel’s Amusement Park Elysburg, PA Buddy Knoebel


We would love to hear from you! Email Kristin Ely at 12 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Lucy Desi Museum Shop Jamestown, NY Gary Hahn Kate Rinko

Saint Louis Zoo Saint Louis, MO Judy Rancour

Montana Gift Corral Bozeman, MT Cassi Miller

San Diego Wildlife Zoo Alliance San Diego, CA Joy Love

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium Omaha, NE Sue Fahje

Silver Dollar City Amusement Park Branson, MO Rhonda Ruzzo

Parkway Visitor Center Outpost Philadelphia, PA Kathryn Ott Lovell

SSA Group Denver, CO Rochelle Lynn

Pro Football Hall of Fame Canton, OH Michelle Hunt Raging Rivers Water Park Grafton, IL Jessie Hayes

Storybook Land Egg Harbor Township, NJ Jessica Panetta Texas Goods Company Dallas, TX Amy Petreikis-Lynch The Cave Store La Jolla, CA Patrice Forrister


Philadelphia Visitor Center now features ‘Rocky’ shop Rocky fans who ascend the 72 “Rocky Steps” outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art can commemorate their trip with exclusively licensed Rocky franchise apparel, which is now being sold at the Parkway Visitor Center Outpost at the base of the steps. The Philadelphia Visitor Center Corp., which manages the shop, has partnered with Sly Stallone Shop, the official brand of Sylvester Stallone, and MGM, the trademark owner of the Rocky franchise, to offer exclusively licensed Rocky franchise apparel and souvenirs at the Parkway Visitor Center Outpost as of Oct. 5. With millions of visitors annually, the Rocky Statue is one of Philadelphia’s most-visited locations, according to the Philadelphia Visitor Center Corp. The recently opened Parkway Visitor Center Outpost provides information and services, sells tickets to major city attractions, serves as a hub for the seasonal PHLASH Downtown Loop transit service and connects visitors from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s museums and cultural institutions to Kelly Drive and Boathouse Row. The Parkway Visitor Center Outpost will now feature a “Rocky Shop” in addition to locally sourced Philadelphia-themed retail and souvenirs. Merchandise available in the Rocky Shop will include the Rocky II Tiger Jacket; Rocky III Italian Stallion Training Jacket; Rocky II Boxing Trunks; Rocky III Yellow Boxing Trunks; Rocky III Italian Stallion Boxing Robe; Rocky IV Stars and Stripes Boxing Trunks; Rocky IV Balboa Boxing Robe; Rocky Philadelphia T-shirts; Rocky hats; and additional souvenir items such as collectibles and picture frames. Visitors can stop by the Parkway Visitor Center Outpost from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Thursday through Monday for information and tickets to major city attractions. The Parkway Visitor Center Outpost is supported by a $100,000 contribution from Stallone, along with contributions from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Visitor Center Corp.

AmuseMints signs licensing agreement with Lantern Press AmuseMints, a supplier and manufacturer of custom specialty confectionery for the travel and resort industry, formed an exclusive licensing deal with Lantern Press for the 2023 Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show. Under the agreement, travel and resort customers had access to Lantern Press’ art collection to pair with AmuseMints’ custom confectionery items. “The addition of more than 20,000 hand-drawn images from Lantern Press elevates and expands the custom edible solutions AmuseMints can provide,” says Lance Stier, CEO of NC Custom, the parent company of AmuseMints. “Along with destination-specific art, our resort customers will have access to Lantern Press’ everyday and holiday imagery, too, creating endless product possibilities.” Initially AmuseMints will be offering Lantern Press artwork as a new collection for its custom edible tins, mint tins, gift boxes, digi bags, chocolate bars and boxes with plans to continue to expand to other offerings. 14 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Wild Republic founder receives ‘Champion of Sustainability’ award Wild Republic, an international toy company based in Independence, Ohio, 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. According to Wild Republic, the TOTY Awards is the most prestigious awards event in the toy industry, which recognizes top toys, games and licenses across 17 categories of play. The Champion of Sustainability 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 space. For more than 40 years, Pillai has driven the company’s commitment to nature and conservation while proactively striving to be as environmentally friendly and ethically responsible as possible. Wild Republic also offers an expansive collection of nature-related toys and gifts that foster curiosity about wildlife and educate children about the wonders of nature. Pillai’s grandson, Vishnu Chandran, is now the CEO of Wild Republic. “There is no one more deserving of this award than my granddad,” says Chandran. “His dedication to conservation, sustainability and education about our planet is the cornerstone of our company and continues to be the driving force in everything that we do. I’m so proud of him and so proud to be able to call him my granddad as well.”


Melissa Lew partners with One Tree Planted

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 based on global reforestation efforts. The woman- and minority-owned business has always focused on the environment with the eco-friendly materials used in its jewelry pieces and packaging. The partnership with One Tree Planted allows the wholesaler to further its conservation efforts. For every piece of jewelry purchased, Melissa Lew will plant one tree. “Working with One Tree Planted is a natural fit for Melissa Lew jewelry,” says Melissa Lew, founder and designer. “Sustainability is important for me — each piece is consciously handmade from a variety of eco-friendly materials.” Pieces are made to order/small batches to ensure less waste. Customer feedback about the partnership has been positive. “They’re excited because it makes the jewelry more meaningful,” she says. “We all love the planet. We all love the oceans, and it’s a way of having something beautiful for customers to remember their trip by but also that they are doing good in the world.” One Tree Planted is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is on a mission to make it simple for anyone to help the environment by planting trees. Its projects span the globe and are done in partnership with local communities and knowledgeable experts to create an impact for nature, people and wildlife. In addition to the new partnership, Lew has introduced new products to her jewelry line, including a National Parks Collection featuring 25 national parks.


Aurora World launches new toy division

Aurora World, a provider of plush toys, is venturing into the toy industry by introducing, “Aurora Toys.” This move not only signifies a remarkable milestone for Aurora but also underlines the company’s commitment to its customers, retailers and consumers alike. Aurora Toys is designed to have a product portfolio of various toy categories, enabling the company to offer an array of toys that cater to a diverse range of interests and preferences. From timeless classics to exciting new takes, Aurora World’s expansion into the world of toys is set to bring a splash of amusement to consumers of all ages.


NOV. 6-8 Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry Atlanta

DEC. 3-6 Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

NOV. 7-9 International Gift Exposition in the Smokies Sevierville, Tennessee NOV. 8-10 Las Vegas Market – Fall Sample Sale Las Vegas off-market-events NOV. 8-11 Smoky Mountain Gift Show Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Jan. 10-12 Surf Expo Orlando, Florida

NOV. 8-11 International Gift Exposition in the Smokies Pigeon Forge, Tennessee NOV. 15-16 Mid-Atlantic Merchandise Mart Philadelphia

Jan. 16-22 Atlanta Market Atlanta

NOV. 17-19 Norton’s Gatlinburg Apparel, Jewelry & Gift Show Gatlinburg, Tennessee

DECEMBER DEC. 1-3 GTS Greensboro Expo Greensboro, North Carolina DEC. 1-3 Dallas Jewelry & Bead Show Grapevine, Texas

Jan. 28-Feb. 1 Las Vegas Market Las Vegas

DEC. 4-5 Midwest Market Days Chicago River Grove, IL


DEC. 5 TMC: The Merchandise Center Chicago & Schiller Park, Illinois

JANUARY JAN. 3-5 The ASI Show Orlando, Florida JAN. 8-9 Midwest Market Days River Grove, Illinois JAN. 8-10 CMC LA Market Week / Kids Market Los Angeles JAN. 10-16 Dallas Total Home & Gift Market Dallas JAN. 14-6 NRF Retail’s Big Show New York City JAN. 17-19 Alaska Wholesale Gift Show Anchorage, Alaska JAN. 19-21 Impressions Expo – Long Beach Long Beach, California JAN. 21-24 StorePoint Fashion & StorePoint Retail San Diego

FEBRUARY FEB. 4-6 Philadelphia Gift Show Oaks, Pennsylvania FEB. 4-7 NY NOW New York City




Atlanta Market expands buying opportunities in Winter 2024

Las Vegas show refreshes vibe

The 2023 Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show welcomed thousands of buyers in early October who were looking to stock their stores for 2024. Around 1,300 vendors, including approximately 150 new exhibitors, more entertainment and an added Lifestyle Products Section, gave the show a refreshed vibe. “We are very focused on souvenir and resort. Lifestyle is a segment of that, and we’re happy to grow this area,” said Lisa Berry, Clarion Events group vice president, gift and souvenir. Both Judy Rancour, director of retail, St. Louis Zoo, and Sue Fahje, retail manager, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska, said the new configuration made the show more navigable and enjoyable. “They’ve done some of these segmented groupings of vendors in the past but I think they’ve taken it a step beyond this year, which has made it interesting and easier to shop,” said Rancour. “They’ve moved the Connect Buyers Lounge further into the middle of the show, which is a nice stopping point to have a conversation. All those things have added to the fun of being at the show.” Fahje said, “There is an energy to the people here both from the vendor side to the buyer side. It’s very upbeat. I had a chance to walk the lifestyle section and it was amazing.”

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 product and a robust roster of revamped education and celebration for retailers and buyers. Registration is now open for Jan. 1622, 2024, Atlanta Market at AmericasMart Atlanta. Atlanta Market resources continue to expand in several key Atlanta Market 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. In connection with a major expansion by Creative Coop on the 10th floor of Building 1, The Gardens, Atlanta Market’s destination for outdoor accessories, showcases a remerchandised collection on the 9th and 10th floors of Building 2. The Home Accents & Fine Linens temporary category moves from Building 1 to Building 2, bringing Atlanta Market’s 30-plus temporary neighborhoods together on five connected floors on the lower levels of Buildings 2 and 3. Following the successful launch of the Casual category at the Summer 2023 Atlanta Market, casual furniture and outdoor accessories expand with some 15 new brands opening new showrooms on Building 1’s 6th floor, bringing the market’s total Casual collection to nearly 400,000 square feet of permanent showrooms. For a full list of Atlanta Market exhibitors, visit Exhibitor/Exhibitor-Directory.

Winter Las Vegas Market to feature 4,000-plus lines

Registration is now 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 addition, The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas offers more than 600 gift and home resources presented in six categories: Design, Gift, Handmade, Home, Immediate Delivery and LUXE. As part of high-end home remerchandising in Building B, more than 100 furniture temporaries relocate to B6 beginning in January. Attendees can also benefit from what ANDMORE calls innovative programming to round out the at-market experience with education and events.



Shoppe Object expands to second venue for February show

Shoppe Object, a New York trade event for curated home and gift products, plans to expand to include a second venue during its February show. In lieu of the tent that previously maximized Shoppe Object’s Pier 36 home, the event has added a venue twice the size — the recently renovated Skylight at Essex Crossing in the heart of Manhattan’s lower east side. The two neighboring venues — Pier 36 and Essex Crossing — are less than a mile apart. The new venue will house the entirety of the expanded show, with convenient, frequent shuttles running between the two locations. Since its launch, Shoppe Object has seen growth in attendance and exhibitor count. In 2023, the show featured a market of over 500 exhibitors, which was a 30% increase from its previous event. The expansion to Essex Crossing will double the event’s available show space, according to ANDMORE, parent company of Shoppe Object. The show takes place Feb. 4-6, 2024 in New York. Shoppe Object’s focus and expertise will continue to be on discovery, careful curation and merchandising, bringing buyers design-forward and high-quality brands across home and gift markets.


Total Home & Gift Market to feature over 30 new, expanded showrooms

Dallas Market Center has announced that the upcoming Total Home & Gift Market will feature many new and expanded home and design exhibitors at the event, which takes place Jan. 10-16, 2024, in Dallas. The event will include more than 30 new or expanded showrooms across the marketplace, plus expanded Home Temps. Some changes and expansions for this event include: • Surya is moving into a new space. • Bernhardt Interiors and Tomlinson furniture will join an expanded MC Studio showroom. • Shadow Catchers has moved into its own showroom. • Visual Comfort & Co. is expanding its showroom. • Uttermost and Revelation recently moved into new atrium showrooms. • Novart recently relocated to an atrium showroom. • Ashore recently relocated and expanded. • The Light Garden is relocating. • Shakuff Lighting is opening a showroom in IHDC 2F225. • French Market will debut a new showroom.

With 25 years at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Store in Canton, Ohio, Senior Director of Merchandising Michelle Hunt has grown up alongside the establishment, watching it grow into the giant it is today.






he Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, is mecca for football fans. And no such venue would be complete without the proper gift store to commemorate the visit. At 8,000 square feet, The Pro Football Hall of Fame Store fits the bill. It’s a far cry from its humble beginnings in 1963 when it was no larger than a closet that sold “pendants, pencils, and postcards,” according to Michelle Hunt, senior director of merchandising. “It’s been a journey,” says Hunt, who has grown up alongside the Hall of Fame Museum’s store, dedicating 25 years of her time in the workforce to the establishment. “I’m super excited to have been here all these years and to see all the changes.” Like many, Hunt secured her first job in retail at 16 years old and has remained in the field throughout her career, including working as an assistant manager at the Hall of Fame Museum’s store prior to clinching her job as director. As her role evolved over the years from working solely in the store to include purchasing, planning and making creative decisions, the store has been pushed and pulled into expansions in 1978 and 1995 before finding its footing at its current size in 2013. But with 32 NFL teams, 100+ years of football history and 371 members in the Hall of Fame, somehow even 8,000 still doesn’t feel like enough. “It’s not big enough,” Hunt says. “Since we have so much merchandise, it’s packed to the [gills].” While an admission ticket to the Hall of Fame Museum is not required to shop at the store, no visit would be complete without a walk down memory lane where visitors can reminisce about the biggest dynasties in football history and peruse the uniforms and equipment worn by the biggest legends to ever play the game, such as Jim Thorpe, Joe Montana and Peyton Manning. The experience continues with interactive exhibits where guests are invited to try on sample helmets and compare the size of their hands to

those of some of the best players like Johnny Unitas and John Elway. And then — the holy grail of the trip — the bust gallery, a room which contains the “headshots” cast in bronze of every member who’s been enshrined by class, including Deion Sanders, Jim Brown and Vince Lombardi. As they wind their way through history, guests make their way to a ramp which delivers them to the heavenly sight of the Hall of Fame Museum Store – a playground of sorts for the die-hards and casual football fans alike.

Ball caps from all 32 NFL teams rank among the most popular souvenirs. Photos: Shawn Wood


Among the endless racks of jerseys, T-shirts, ball caps, keychains, magnets, postcards, thermoses, mugs, shot glasses, license plate holders, mini helmets, footballs, bobble-head dolls, pendants and novelty items, visitors will discover that all 32 NFL teams have their own dedicated displays. Exclusive Hall of Fame gear — one of DID YOU KNOW? the hottest tickets in ALL 32 NFL TEAMS HAVE the store — also is THEIR OWN DEDICATED peppered throughout the sales floor to entice DISPLAYS. the more than 100,000 visitors who pass through annually, Hunt says. “One of our bestsellers is our Hall of Fameexclusive line where we co-brand with NFL teams and our Hall of Famers for one-of-a-kind souvenirs that you can only buy here at the Hall of Fame,” Hunt notes. Among the top-sellers are T-shirts and hats by NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE 25


some of the biggest names in apparel and sports gear, such as Nike, New Era, 47Brand, Riddell and Wilson Sporting Goods, just to name a few. Hunt notes that all NFL products must be purchased from official NFL licensees, but she is able to use any vendor she sees fit for Hall of Fame-branded products. This opens the door to Camp David Apparel and Champion as well as G&G Outfitters Inc. for the museum’s exclusive products. “Our biggest-selling categories with our Hall of Fame exclusives are the Hall of Fame legends T-shirt line and it has the Hall of Fame marks, the NFL mark and then all of the Hall of Famers that played for that specific team on a T-shirt,” Hunt explains. “That’s our best-selling item in the store.” She adds that she tries to locally source products when possible, turning to Modern China Co. for Hall of Fame glassware. Meanwhile Game Day Feels in North Canton supplies leather keychains, lanyards and bracelets as well as collectible wooden wall signs. “That product line does phenomenal in our store,” she DID YOU KNOW? adds. MORE THAN And why wouldn’t it? The company makes cut-out 100,000 VISITORS of Hall of Famers’ jerPASS THROUGH THE replicas seys complete with the name, STORE ANNUALLY. number and signature of the player — all laser cut and made in the USA — for under $150. 3D signs of players’ signatures and wooden coasters also rank among the products offered. And when it comes to signatures, the Hall of Fame Museum Store does not disappoint in the signed collectibles, including helmets, mini helmets and footballs that are available for purchase by

Hall of Fame exclusives are stand-outs as visitor favorites.


eager fans and protected behind a glass case. “We do have those autographed, high-end collectibles that people are looking for,” Hunt points out. “Like that one-of-a-kind unique gift that’s signed by our Hall of Famers.” Among those enshrined in the glass case is Leroy Butler who played safety for the Green Bay Packers and whose journey took more than 16 years to officially make the Hall of Fame. He was nominated multiple times before he was finally inducted in 2022. “One of my favorite Hall of Famers is Leroy Butler. He’s one of my biggest shoppers and one of my biggest supporters of Hall of Fame gear,” Hunt notes. “He’s also very interactive with our staff and all of our guests when he’s here.” Hunt says Butler’s story to overcome adversity is one of inspiration to her. Growing up surrounded by poverty and crime, he was born pigeon-toed, had surgery on both feet at 8 months old, and was confined to a wheelchair with leg braces until he was 8 years old. It was more than a possibility that he may never walk, but he never gave up. “To this day, he is such a strong man with a kind heart, positive attitude and is always giving back to the community,” she says. “His story is so inspirational and has been an inspiration in my life to never give up, keep fighting, rise up and accept the challenges and changes that life throws at you and keep moving forward.” And like Butler, Hunt keeps moving forward in her mission to improve the Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum store and meet challenges head-on.


A wide selection of drinkware includes Hall of Fame exclusive glassware and shot glasses along with team-branded cups and mugs.

To do this, the store has hosted meetand-greets and book signings in the last few years to help support the mission of the non-profit museum, which is to acknowledge every player, coach and contributor who helped build the game into what it is today. And to serve those who arrive in town mostly from Memorial Day to Labor Day to pay their respects to their football idols, Hunt relies on six full-time retail staff members and as many as 40 part-time staff members during the busy season. There’s really only one chance to get it right and make sure visitors buy on their way out the door, as Hunt notes, they are not known for repeat business. “Most of the time, it’s people that are traveling and we get those customers as they tour the museum,” she says. “But it’s a destination. People are coming to the museum, and once they’re here in the museum, they’ll find the store.” And when they do, they will be greeted by colorful pendants draped from the ceiling, rows of NFL helmets displayed behind the cash register, a wall full of team baseball caps and beanies, footballs signed by entire enshrined classes, flags, pens, Super Bowl coins, mugs, stickers, plaques, gloves and unlimited Hall of Fame-branded memorabilia for fans of all ages. TACKLING CHALLENGES

With such an expansive store, one might think that the sky is the limit in bringing in products, but Hunt says, that just isn’t true. “There’s so much product out there and so many new and exciting things that I want to try, but it’s just a matter of trying to figure out space.” However, Hunt says renovating the store 10 years ago and expanding from 4,000 to 8,000 28 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

square feet is one of her biggest accomplishments. “We renovated from scratch — planned the entire layout of the store, what product was going to go where, what fixtures to use, the color of the slatwall, the color of the carpet, how the checkout would operate, the graphics, the signage and everything else that goes into a retail store,” she notes. Hunt adds that licensing for products can also be challenging because “there’s a lot that goes into trying to get the right to use Hall of Famers’ names and likenesses.” Challenge or not, the licensing and the name the Hall of Fame has created for itself is what differentiates the museum store from others selling football apparel and memorabilia, she notes. “We have the exclusive line where we carry our Hall of Famers, and people like to have product that has their heroes or their legends on their shirts and honoring them,” Hunt explains. “So, being able to co-brand with the NFL’s team marks and our Hall of Famers, that’s a unique product that nobody has and nobody can get anywhere else.” For this reason, Hunt says it’s important to step out of the box, take chances and go for the hailMary play that just might land you a touchdown. “Don’t be afraid to try new things and grow your business. You don’t want to take risks, but you have to in this business because you don’t know if something’s going to work,” she says. “Try new things and adapt to the change around you and just grow.” And growing doesn’t necessarily mean in a brick-and-mortar capacity. Hunt notes that the store is also responsible for the online store and


“We’re here to honor the greatest of the games and those are all the hall of famers in these walls here at the Hall of Fame.” — MICHELLE HUNT shipping orders from the site, as they handle all their own website orders. But she notes the enthusiasm of a die-hard fan dressed head-to-toe in their favorite NFL gear on any given day is enough to put her heart and soul into the job that she describes as “fun” and “creative” and an opportunity to “meet people from all over Pro football player jerseys for all ages are diplayed on a large wall. the world.” “They’re so excited to be here “We’re here to honor the greatest of the games and learn the history of the game and go through and those are all the hall of famers in these walls the museum and it’s a bucket list item for a lot of here at the Hall of Fame,” Hunt says. “And we try to people,” she points out. honor them in the store and in the products with Whether Brett Favre, Jerry Rice or Ray Lewis is their names and their licenses on them.” the favorite, all guests are coming to secure a piece Regardless of whether you’re a football fan of history from a hero that they likely have idolized or not, Hunt’s message is one no retailer should since childhood. It’s important, therefore, that the overlook — there’s no room to fumble the delivery merchandise be as legendary as the person it is on providing the best products to customers. Even honoring. when you’re ahead, go for the extra point. SGN







f variety is the spice of life as it is said, then gift shops could be considered the cayenne pepper of amusement parks. Consider that the majority of theme parks have multiple shops sprinkled throughout their sprawling compounds; couple that with the fact that the shops generally focus on a certain ride, attraction or theme, and it’s an explosion of souvenirs that vary almost as much as one’s threshold for thrills.


“We have a tremendous amount of choices [for gift shops at the park],” says Buddy Knoebel, owner of the family-owned Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. “I love them all.” With 10 brick-and-mortar shops and four walk-up, outdoor shops, each carries a unique theme and its own selection of T-shirts, hoodies, keychains, magnets, plush, stickers, hats, water bottles and keepsakes that won’t be found in any other shop at the park. For instance, “Airport” features inflatable toys and balloons, the “Brass Ring” focuses on all things horses, the “Twister Shop” is dedicated to the roller coaster of the same name, and the list goes on and on. And the park has a rather unique twist — it’s the largest free-admission park in the U.S. “Here, the gift shops are actually maybe more of a dominant segment of our business than it is in some parks,”


Knoebel points out. “You pay nothing to get in; it’s free admission, free parking, free entertainment, free picnic facilities … but we’re going to find something to tempt you to spend a little money.” And with merchandise from over 300 vendors and more than 5,000 SKUs, there’s a lot to choose from, including gems and jewels at the Mine Shop, collectibles and memorabilia at the Heroes Shop, and old fashioned candy and treats in the General Store. Among the most popular souvenirs are gemstone mining bags from Sandy Creek Mining Co., Pucker Powder candies and squid hats — googly-eyed plush hats with tentacles that hang to one’s shoulders. “This year, we are celebrating our 50th anniversary for the haunted house, and we’ve done a lot of souvenirs for it. A lot of T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and so on,” Knoebel notes. “And they’re just blowing out of the stores.” Knoebel says one of the reasons the theme park’s shops do so well is because people are coming to vacation at the park and they’re “looking for merchandise that is a memory of their trip.” Silver Dollar City Amusement Park in Branson, Missouri, relies on a variety of wholesalers to supply 43 gift shops throughout the park.



And for adrenaline junkies, the connection to a favorite ride or roller coaster is the incentive to buy a keepsake that helps to preserve their memories like a time capsule. At Silver Dollar City Amusement Park in Branson, Missouri, fans are bidding farewell to Fire in the Hole, a historic indoor roller coaster that has hosted more than 25 million guests in its lifetime, according to the theme park’s website.

“Know who your guest or your customer is. Know what your park stands for, and then put those two things together and offer product that fits both of those key pillars.” — RHONDA RUZZO, SILVER DOLLAR CITY AMUSEMENT PARK

Storybook Land stocks a lot of eye-catching kids’ souvenirs.

Director of Merchandise Rhonda Ruzzo says before the announcement that 2023 would be the final season for the ride, the decision was made to launch an entire product line for the final send-off. “We knew that we had to do something. We couldn’t just close it and not do anything because we knew how much we were going to disappoint our long-term [fans],” she explains. “People just love that ride.” Before the park opened for the season, an exclusive T-shirt commemorating the ride’s lifetime and its place in fans’ hearts was made available that could only be purchased on the park’s online store. “We had a lot of people that wanted that shirt,” she says. “It was a lot of fun just to see the excitement around it.” Eventually, an entire line of T-shirts, sweatshirts, magnets, lanyards and keychains followed, but Ruzzo notes the sentimentality that a simple souvenir can have on loyal guests. “It’s just memories that you make, those connections throughout generations that as a family, you’re never going to forget those times,” she explains. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s what Silver Dollar City is all about.” The 1880s-themed amusement park is also known for its craft shops, which are designed to give generations a taste of what life was like on the frontier. More than 100 artists are on hand daily as visitors pass through the knife shop, leather shop, lye soap shop, glass-blowing shop, candle-making shop, blacksmith, pottery shop and numerous other “working” stores. “That’s really what we started with was all of our craft shops. We are known


as a home of American craftsmanship, so we employ year-round artisans,” Ruzzo notes, adding that the park tries to bring those artisans back every year to continue to interest the next generation. And while Ruzzo says the shops can never have enough handcrafted items, they also still rely on wholesalers to supply the apparel, home decor, plush, figurines, drinkware, hats, magnets, stickers, keychains, toys and jewelry to help fill the 43 gift shops throughout the site. Vendors like RMR Designs in Tampa, Florida, supplies souvenir apparel, Life is Good stocks items in the exit shop, and Cardinal Design International in Rogersville, Missouri, provides ceramics like coffee mugs, headwear, shot glasses and magnets. Another noteworthy supplier, Ruzzo says, is Lazy One, which sells matching pajama sets for the whole family, including the dog. “They have all ages all the way down to the little bitty,” she says with a laugh. “Everyone can get their Christmas photo and all be in matching pajamas so it’s just a fun line to carry.” And while the theme park is known for its attention to detail of the Gilded Age, it does not ignore the trends of today. “Guests seem to want more than a basic T-shirt anymore. They want that fashion garment, too,” Ruzzo explains. “They want something that feels soft. They want something that’s not going to shrink or twist when they wash it, so we found that doing a little bit better garment is what our guests really like. They don’t mind paying a little bit more for it.” Another particularly fun trend for T-shirts and headwear when it comes to the art are saturated colors. “A lot of colors, not necessarily bright, but lots of different colors on the shirt, which makes for a great graphic,” she says. “That’s something that we’ve really seen take off for us.” A STORIED HISTORY

While most amusement parks have a lot of ground to cover in the way of themes, Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, has one focus — bringing books to life for young children through age-appropriate attractions. Opened in 1955, the family-owned theme park sets the tone at the entrance where visitors pass through a castle flanked with toy soldiers standing at attention. Once inside, children’s classic nursery rhymes and fairy tales like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” come to life in interactive exhibits and pint-sized roller coasters for the smallest thrill-seekers. So, what would one guess is the most popular souvenir from such a magical place? “We’re Storybook Land, so we sell a lot of books here,” notes Jessica Panetta, operations manager.


Storybook Land carries Aurora and Soft Stuff Distributors for name-drop plush.

“A lot of the Little Golden Books. You don’t really see them much anymore.” She says the “classics” are among the best sellers as well as the Disney collections, which are secured through Random House and Dover Publications. And with children being at the top of the guest list, it’s no wonder that the gift shop is geared toward catching their slightly lower gaze with plush, toys and other eye-catching kid’s items. “For kids who are on a [field] trip and they have spending money, we try to keep it so they’re able to enjoy the store,” says Panetta, whose grandparents opened the roadside attraction. When it comes to plush, Panetta says the retailers turn to Aurora and Soft Stuff Distributors for name-drop items. Of particular note and a bestseller is a plush castle that comes with additional mini plush pieces. For souvenir drinkware like refillable souvenir cups, the outfit relies on Charles Products Inc., while Impulse Souvenirs provides pins, stickers, hats and other apparel.

Panetta notes that Spirit Jerseys, a line of longsleeve unisex shirts offered by Disney, are showing a lot of promise as a souvenir offering. No matter the size of the item, Panetta says there are certain traits of a good, solid souvenir. “Get your name on products as much as possible because it’s advertising for you as well,” she says. “And definitely make sure you buy good, quality products. Get stuff that’s unique to your business and stuff that people aren’t just going to go by elsewhere.” Meanwhile at Knoebels, the rule of thumb is to let guests get up close and personal with items instead of keeping them shielded under glass and behind counters. “We have things where people can reach them and handle them,” Knoebel says. “The invitation to hold it in your hand and try it makes an increase in sales and makes the item more interesting to purchase.” When done right, Ruzzo says, guests will buy the merchandise that supports their best memories of their favorite attractions. She offers the secret ingredients in finding success when it comes to amusement park products: “Know who your guest or your customer is. Know what your park stands for, and then put those two things together and offer product that fits both of those key pillars.” SGN

THE WETTER SIDE If there’s one thing that goes together like peanut butter and jelly with an amusement park, it’s a water park. Typically neighbors owned by the same company, water parks pack in the same type of clientele — those looking for adventure and seeking thrills, but in a wetter atmosphere. The gifts and souvenir offering have to reflect a more aquatic environment. Jessie Hayes, retail manager and group sales manager for Port of Call, Raging Rivers WaterPark gift shop in Grafton, Illinois, says everything from flip flops and swimsuits to stuffed animals and jewelry are up for grabs in the waterside shop. “The most popular that I’ve had to order multiple times would be flip flops and water shoes,” she says. “We did have water squirters for kids and those sold out every time. Jewelry as well.” Plush supplied by First & Main is also a shoo-in as a top-tier souvenir for water-related stuffed animals, like dolphins, sting rays, sharks, whales and jel-

lyfish, according to Hayes. “The stuffed animals are very popular. I know they can’t take them in the water, but they buy them on their way out every time,” she stresses. “They don’t actually say anything about Raging Rivers on them, they’re just regular stuffed animals.” Name-drop products from Logo-It Apparel include T-shirts, swimsuit cover-ups, tumblers and magnets, while jewelry from Cruz Accessories, sunglasses from Cliff Weil Eyewear, Norty footwear, Sun Bum sunscreen and Pepsi products round out the list of must-haves. A new brand added this year was Del Sol, which includes hair accessories, nail polish and shirts that change color in the sun. Also new to the lineup which no outdoor water-park gift shop could be without — a Hershey’s ice cream case; additional sweets include cotton candy and jelly beans. Parents appreciate the “puddle jumpers” available for toddlers as well, notes Hayes.


Raging Rivers’ gift shop offerings include beach accessories, soaps and lotions.

Although practical for hiding a drain in the floor, Hayes says a big rack in the middle of the store that people have to walk around to get into the park has proven successful, as children clamor to find their favorite stuffed animal. And another profit-ringer — routing traffic through the gift shop to get to the water park. “It’s something they did right before I started here and it’s really helped us out a lot,” she notes. So if you’re looking for the perfect souvenirs on the wetter side of theme parks, think poolside comfort and beachfront-relaxation add-ons — things that are going to make customers want to stay a little longer.


CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE SSA Group is empowering zoos, aquariums and cultural attractions across the U.S. to embrace environmentally friendly practices and products.

QA & Rochelle Lynn, divisional buyer for SSA Group.






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 botanic 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 Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties. Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties (SGN): 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 alterna-

Q&A: SUSTAINABILITY 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 to our sustainability efforts through the Ecokins plush line, comprised of 100% recycled fabric and plastic fill. SGN: What role does responsible product sourcing play in your sustainability efforts? Focusing on products that reduce waste is a core mission of SSA Group.

tive 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. SGN: What accomplishment are you most proud 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 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.

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

SGN: 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

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


Q&A: SUSTAINABILITY 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. SGN: In what other ways does SSA 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 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 connections and learn about their unique techniques. SGN: Is there anything else you’d like to mention about SSA’s commitment to sustainability? 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. SGN

Mmmm and M to sustainability The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio, has recently begun offering a new confectionery product with a sustainability focus at its retail outlets. Denver-based SSA Group, which manages retail for the zoo and aquarium, says the zoo’s stores now offer M&M’S in compostable packaging. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium first featured the candy in earth-friendly packaging at its Zoo Marketplace and Jr Zookeeper stores and has since rolled it out to all its retail outlets. According to SSA Group, M&M’S compostable packaging is a pilot program, launching in select markets. The product has been launched in markets where there is commercial access to composting facilities in order to give the packaging the best chance of reaching its intended destination. “We’re excited to partner with companies and organizations aligned with our focus on sustainability,” an SSA spokesperson tells Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties. “The new M&M’S compostable packaging is an example of how small changes can improve our communities. We look forward to bringing

the new compostable packaging from M&M’S to our nearly 100 partners across the U.S.” SSA Group says it plans to roll the product out at other retail locations in the fourth quarter of this year and in early 2024. The compostable packaging is made of materials that have been tested to break down in most commercial compost environments, turning into compost that is used to grow new plants, according to a statement from M&M’S on the packaging. The packaging material is sourced primarily from plants. After collection in commercial compost bins, the packaging is turned into compost, which can be used to grow new plants. Emily May, director of retail operations for the Columbus Zoo with SSA Group, says the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium began to carry M&M’S in compostable packaging during the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA’s) 2023 Annual Conference, which took place Sept. 9-14, and was hosted by the zoo. A representative from M&M’S parent company, Mars Inc., also attended the AZA


event to share details about the new confectionery product with attendees. May adds that the zoo offers commercial composting and sends its compost to Price Farms Organics in Delaware, Ohio. This isn’t the first time that the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has offered compostable packaging — May says the zoo’s food and beverage team has used compostable packaging, cups and utensils for years. However, she says, this is the first product sold in the zoo’s retail outlets that features compostable packaging. May says the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has educated all its retail associates on the new product and its compostable packaging.




veryone has a distinct taste when it comes to jewelry — some people like big, flashy pieces to make a statement, while others prefer simpler styles to pair with their outfit. Kids, on the other hand, tend to enjoy vibrant colors with their jewelry, along with animal themes. With that in mind, destination retailers should stock a variety of souvenir jewelry styles and price points to match different tastes. Most jewelry at Northport Village, New York-based Artisan House appeals to women, but the store makes sure to stock some options for men as well. Store Owner Ron Meyer says men enjoy the store’s sterling silver rings from Center Court and strappy leather or rope-like bracelets from Anju. The retailer stocks jewelry that

appeals to people of different ages. Meyer says teens and young adults love stacked rings by Center Court. With pricing tiers and numerous styles, guests can customize a look that appeals to them (and their wallets). Kyle Sweatman, founder of wholesaler and retailer Island Pearl Traders in Harrison, Arkansas, explains that it’s important for retailers to diversify their jewelry offerings to appeal to a wider audience. “From a buyer’s perspective, it is easy to keep things themed; however, jewelry should stay diverse with multiple metal types and price points,” he says. Paul Meyer, vice president of sales and marketing at Phillips International’s Cool Jewels in Hallandale, Florida, notes that consumers have less disposable income available to spend on souvenirs this year when compared with past years. He says, destination



retailers need to be smart about the souvenir jewelry they keep in stock so as not to waste inventory space. “Retailers should be analyzing what should be and should not be on the sales floors,” says Meyer of Cool Jewels. “Ultimately, if customers are going to be more conservative in their spending, which we’ve seen, then [retailers] need to make certain that products they have out there are paying for their floor space.” When retailers strategically stock souvenir jewelry that customers love, these souvenirs can be very profitable. Sweatman adds that jewelry can be a top-selling souvenir category. “People like what they like, and jewelry sells,” he says. “When I worked [in retail] at Silver Dollar City, almost every single shop had some jewelry in it. Jewelry was probably the No. 2 gift category, right under apparel.”





Texas Goods Company offers souvenir jewelry with southwestern themes to remind tourists of their time in the Lone Star State.


Souvenir jewelry style preferences differ from region to region, store to store. Some destination retailers, like Boulevard Souvenirs in Memphis, Tennessee, profit most by selling shiny and showy pieces. The destination retailer focuses on selling merchandise related to the Memphis music scene. “Our world is Elvis, and Elvis was ‘blingy,’” explains Renae Roberts, owner of Boulevard Souvenirs. “For us, as long as it’s blingy, shiny and bright, it’s good to go.” Roberts notes that her customers enjoy souvenir jewelry with fake diamonds that spell “Elvis” and flashy gold guitar pendants to remind them of their time in the city. Sometimes, carrying local gemstones is a hit for destination retailers. Any souvenir jewelry featuring the Montana sapphire sells well at Montana Gift Corral, which has five stores in and around Bozeman, Montana. “We carry the Montana sapphire in necklaces and earrings, and it doesn’t matter. If it has a Montana sapphire, people love it,” says Cassi Miller, creative content coordinator at Montana Gift Corral. Destination retailers also want to be mindful and offer some playful souvenir jewelry to appeal to kids. Miller says Montana Gift Corral sells a set of dinosaur-themed jewelry for kids that Offer educational cards is priced at about $12. near souvenir jewelry Regardless of customer style displays to educate preferences, Meyer of Cool Jewels customers on the types of says he has noticed an uptick in interstones used in the jewelry, est in any kind of jewelry that features the characteristics of the semiprecious stones, which includes stones and any meaning all gemstones besides diamonds, rubies, behind them. sapphires and emeralds. Think agate, amethyst, garnet, rose quartz, turquoise and lapis lazuli. According to Meyer, jewelry that features semi-

Tip of the Trade


precious stones crushed to form various animals, plants or landscapes is popular. He adds that more customers want additional education about gemstones, as well. “People are used to getting information at a touch of their fingers; people are becoming more educated about various topics,” he explains. “Now, they’re making a purchase on an attractive product, and semiprecious stones and their specific meanings are a little bit of a mystery to most people.” He advises retailers make sure they offer educational cards or some form of information near souvenir jewelry displays to educate customers on the types of stones used in the jewelry, the characteristics of the stones and any meaning behind them, as providing this information boosts sales. “An educated consumer becomes a wonderful customer,” he says. “They can appreciate the value and meaning behind each piece that’s created.” LOCATION AND OCCASION

Customers like when souvenir jewelry clearly ties to the destination they visited, but fitting a name drop on a necklace or bracelet can be tough. Instead of having a name drop on the actual jewelry, Meyer of Cool Jewels suggests that retailers include that information on the packaging.

“Retailers should be analyzing what should be and should not be on the sales floors.” — PAUL MEYER, COOL JEWELS “A lot of retailers might wish to have their own private label, so we can provide their name and logo on the hang tag for them,” he explains. In general, offering souvenir jewelry that matches the themes of the destination will be enough to remind customers of their time spent in that place. Montana Gift Corral customers love the store’s regional jewelry, so Miller tries to work with wholesalers in the Rocky Mountain area as well as local artists near Bozeman for these products. Some of the store’s souvenir jewelry includes information cards on the product that talks about where it was made. Since Northport Village is a historic shipbuilding port on Long Island, tourists love the sea-themed jewelry at Artisan House. The store carries the Ocean Jewelry brand, which is a hit with tourists. Some of the biggest sellers from that brand feature mermaids or sea turtles. Amy Petreikis-Lynch, owner of Texas Goods

PRODUCT TREND: SOUVENIR JEWELRY Company in Dallas, says her customers enjoy souvenir jewelry with Texas themes: a cactus, cowboy boots or the outline of the state of Texas. “They’re silly, but people get a kick out of them,” she says of the themed jewelry. “They can make a great souvenir for people.” She adds that tourists visiting Dallas want to take home southwestern-style souvenir jewelry — think dangly woven beaded earrings and pendants in warm colors. Offering jewelry for special holidays and times of year is also important. Petreikis-Lynch says her store often sells out of statement jewelry that match specific holidays. “People love statement pieces that can make or break your outfit,” she says. “We sell a lot for parties and events. For fall, we loaded up on football-style earrings. … For New Year’s, we sell a ton of champagne bottle earrings.” SUSTAINABLE STYLES

More customers want to make purchases that make a difference, so destination retailers might want to consider stocking some souvenir jewelry that ties to sustainability and Customers love regional themes at Montana Gift Corral.


conservation efforts. In the last two to three years, Meyer of Cool Jewels says he has noticed a spike in interest in products related to conservation efforts.

“People love statement pieces that can make or break your outfit.” — AMY PETREIKIS-LYNCH, TEXAS GOODS COMPANY “We have seen an interest in the environment and addressing climate change as well as the condition of our oceans and the well-being of precious wildlife more so than ever,” he says. “In general, many people want to leave the world a better place. You can’t go more than a few days without hearing something related to global warming.” Meyer notes that Cool Jewels offers three conservation-specific souvenir jewelry lines, including its 1 Tree Mission line, its Live Love Protect line and its Clear Seas Project line. The wholesaler’s new fashion-forward Semi-Precious Stone Expressions line and its established Elements line also provide funds toward preserving wildlife habitats. Additionally, customers want good quality souvenir jewelry that is made to last. Petreikis-Lynch says she likes to stock high-quality souvenir jewelry

PRODUCT TREND: SOUVENIR JEWELRY that won’t turn skin green and that her customers can keep in their wardrobes longer. “Sustainability is big,” she says. “They want top quality, waterproof and pieces that last a long time.” KEEP IN CLOSE SIGHT

Many destination retailers agree it’s wise to keep souvenir jewelry on or near the cash wrap to catch peoples’ attention. Miller says Montana Gift Corral’s storefronts like to keep souvenir jewelry displayed around the cash wrap with some higher end pieces, such as those containing Montana sapphires, showcased in locked cases. She says, “Most of our jewelry is in pre-lit cases. We’re big on lighting. Our staff are fabulous at merchandising things. It’s definitely eye-catching.” Retailers also like to display souvenir jewelry in very visible areas as a way to keep a close eye on it. Although souvenir jewelry isn’t nearly as expensive as what traditional jewelers offer, prices can range from $12 to $100. Pieces that feature semiprecious stones can be more tempting for theft. “We keep jewelry close to our [checkout] counter,” Petreikis-Lynch says. “We don’t lock it up, though. We want customers to freely try it on. But we keep it up there so we can keep an eye on it

while also letting people have free range.” Having staff engage with customers as they try on jewelry near displays also helps to deter theft, according to Miller. “We try to combat [potential theft] with kindness,” she says. “The best form of theft prevention, we’ve found, is if someone holds [jewelry] in their hands, we’ll ask if we can get it wrapped for them. We find that asking kind questions seems to deter people.” In addition to deterring theft, talking to customers as they browse the souvenir jewelry section is also good customer service, which can help boost sales. Meyer of Cool Jewels says retailers who want to boost souvenir jewelry sales should find ways to go the extra mile in this category. He concludes, “Merchandise correctly, stay up to date on trends and always have best sellers available.” SGN

Cool Jewels carries three conservation jewelry lines, including the 1 Tree Mission line.





Frazzleberries Country Store sells a high volume of signs focused on family, home and faith.




f there’s one thing a sign is good for, it’s making customers laugh. Some might say it soothes the soul. And others might admit the perfect verbiage makes people want to buy the sign. “People come in and read the signs, and I swear it’s like therapy,” says Katie Schlichting, owner of Frazzleberries Country Store, which has locations in both Newport, Rhode Island, and Warwick, New York. “They read something and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a really nice saying’. And you can actually see them transforming into a better mood.” Signs come in all shapes and sizes. They can be made from wood, metal, porcelain, fiberboard, ceramic, plastic, aluminum or any other number of materials. They can fit in the palm of one’s hand or take up an entire wall. The beauty of signs is in the sentiment, the sarcasm or the simplicity of a message. “Filling your walls is challenging. From a decorating standpoint, I always tell people you don’t want a whole wall of prints in your house,” Schlichting notes. “You want to have a mirror or a clock, a sign, a print, and break it up aesthetically. And I feel like that’s where people kind of source us for that look. Other times, they just read a sign and they love what it says and want to have it in their home. They want to look at it every day.”




Schlichting adds while both of the shops she owns with her husband, Jerry, carry national vendors, such as Primitives by Kathy and Collins Painting & Design, their bread and butter is in custom signs. “Having custom signs allows us to differentiate ourselves from some of the other stores,” Schlichting points out. “We do all the designing. We have the color swatches and the fonts that the customer can choose from, and then they can really customize the look.”

“If they’re actually buying a sign for their home, it tends to be more about home, family or faith.” — KATIE SCHLICHTING, FRAZZLEBERRIES Schlichting says signs for wedding gifts, like “Established in 2023,” or for real estate agents congratulating clients on a home purchase have become big business — one she feels Frazzleberries was ahead of the curve on until Etsy and other online stores burst into the market about 10 years ago. Nonetheless, Schlichting says, signs are still booming, with the most popular being faith-based, funny or a simple message about the importance of home or family.


“The funny expressions are nice to have in the store because people read them and they laugh out loud,” she says. “But if they’re actually buying it for their home, it tends to be more about home, family or faith. That would be our strongest category. In Newport, because it’s a coastal town and a beach destination, people like signs about the beach or the ocean. It reminds them of their time here.” If you can find a saying that covers more than one base, it will be a favorite for a while. Schlichting says one of the most popular signs in her shop appeals to more than one type of customer. “It says, ‘In high tide or low tide, I’ll be by your side.’ We do sell a lot of it,” she says. “It’s a cute wedding gift. It’s perfect if you’re a beach or coastal person. It’s just such a cute little expression.” Schlichting says anyone looking to purchase signs should frequent industry trade shows, including Atlanta Market, New York Now and Las Vegas Market since many of the showrooms have signs as part of their mix. “If people are looking for sources on where to buy signs, I would definitely steer them toward the buying shows,” she says. She also recommends the online buying platform Faire, which allows users to search keywords for particular products.



Sincere Surroundings is among the wholesalers that exhibits at trade shows that carry a variety of signs. The Rock Rapids, Iowa-based company takes its products to the next level by offering custom signs — an emerging trend for 2024. Abbey Grooters, director of marketing at Sincere Surroundings, says personalization of signs and souvenirs became a way for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors. “Pretty much everybody that’s in the sign industry now is doing name drop so what we’ve done to set ourselves apart is to offer complete custom.” Grooters notes that since the company does not “ZIP-code protect” merchandise, it offers specialized versions of signs, coasters, magnets and candles to satisfy a customer’s desire to have unique items. “What we offer is total custom, so they could choose any of our substrates and we can design something just for them that’s unique to their store or their community,” Grooters says. “What’s cool about that is it really differentiates their product from everybody else.”

Grooters adds another up-and-coming trend is using more vibrant color schemes that really seem “to resonate well with the buyer.” “People are looking for more color, especially in the souvenir [category], because you need that eye-catching piece. So we’re adding more color and more graphic elements rather than just words,” she says. “That seems to be doing really well.” One collection that never seems to go out of style is the coastal collection of turtles, mermaids, manatees and other ocean-dwelling animals, according to Grooters. Sayings like “Respect the locals” with images of dolphins and turtles, “The original mermaid is the manatee,” or “Respect the ocean, protect the

For Sincere Surroundings, featuring ocean-dwelling animals on signs never goes out of style.



Retailers can include signs in themed displays as a tactic to win customers over.

ocean, love the ocean” are all winners in Sincere Surroundings’ product lines. Add a name drop to it, Grooters notes, and you have a “golden piece.” “With the souvenir industry, obviously, people are looking for that destination location with a name on it, so they remember that vacation, they remember those moments that brings them back to that nostalgia that they experienced at that place,” Grooters says. “So, really, anything with a name drop; when we’re at a show, everybody’s looking for name drop.” SIGN STAYING POWER

At the Forest Edge Gift Shoppe in Gaines, Pennsylvania, “The mountains are calling.” The vast majority who stop by the 2,200-square-foot store are on their way to nearby Cherry Springs State Park to camp, says Store Owner Laurie Naugle.

“People are looking for more color, especially in the souvenir category, because you need that eye-catching piece.” — ABBEY GROOTERS, SINCERE SURROUNDINGS The rustic gift shop appeals to its carefree RV owners with wood and die-case metal signs adorned with animal sayings and camping slogans like “Happy campers live here” and “Welcome to our cabin.” Naugle estimates that nearly 10% of sales come from signs, which vary from long and skinny shelf sitters to bear paw prints that spell “cabin” to traditional square and rectangle shapes. She adds that she loves to sprinkle signs throughout her mix of jams, jellies, baby gifts, knives, camping supplies, home goods, rugs, rustic furniture, apparel, backpacks, handbags and home 56 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

decor to convince visitors to slow down and shop for longer. “The main reason I use signs is to draws people’s attention. Your brain wants to read the words, so it will draw you and hold you in an area longer,” she explains. “So, I don’t just keep signs in one area, they’re everywhere. And it just kind of slows down the pace of people.” Naugle agrees there’s nothing better than hearing people laugh their way through her shop of signs, which range from $6.95 to $39 and include the likes of Primitives by Kathy, metal signs from Ganz and others from Amish Trader and Keystone Wholesale in nearby Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “You’ll hear people saying, ‘Oh my gosh, did you see the one over here,’” she says. “It slows people down long enough, and people really will stand there and read them all. And then they may look around to other things.” Naugle says her secret to success with displays is using the rustic wood on the walls made to look like a log cabin as hangers for signs in the shop and then grouping them by theme according to other nearby merchandise. “Tastefully intermingle them, and just make sure that there’s not so many that they’re going to knock them over if they reach to pick up the shirt that’s there,” she notes. At Frazzleberries Country Store, Schlichting says grouping by theme is a great tactic to win customers over. “Cross merchandise signage into a category. If you have a baby section, your baby signage would go in that section. If you have a pet section, your pet signage would go in that section,” she recommends. “Mix products so it’s not just a sign, sign, sign. If it’s meaningful within the display, it seems to resonate more.” SGN






ats have a history as storied as the locations that they hail from. Whether a part of a uniform, for practicality or simply a fashion statement, hats pair well with T-shirts and other souvenirs. Their versatility makes them one of the most popular items for souvenir stores. However, as Sally January, owner of Alpine Kind in Minturn and Beaver Creek, Colorado, points out, “not all heads are created equal.” So, what is the perfect variety? It turns out the popularity of a hat has a lot to do with location. When Alpine Kind opened about seven years ago, it was a women’s store, but over the years it has evolved into a “mini department store” for visitors seeking mountaininspired apparel, home goods, candles, figurines, shoes, stickers, books, games, puzzles, pins, mugs, plush, jewelry, keychains and more. January recently found success dedicating an entire wall to seasonal hats, particularly to convince men to stop and take a second look. “Customers don’t want to look through the whole store to find a hat, particularly men, so we try to bridge that gap by having all of our men’s items at the front. Formerly we would have men come in and say, ‘oh, this is a women’s store,’ and turn around and walk out,” she notes. Now, men are encouraged to pull hats from the wall, try them on and see which one suits them best. While women will take more time to browse the whole store and look at other things, her male customers want to get in and out quickly. “Men on vacation love to shop, so we just have to get them comfortable,” January says. “They can browse the whole thing, pull a hat down, try it on, put it back, try it on, and then check out within five minutes and be done.” January centralizes products and intentionally groups them. This makes for an impressive display that encourages visitors to take their time poring through the options in styles as well as brands, she says. 58 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Hats come in all shapes and sizes, and grouping them together can help customers more easily find their perfect match.


Alpine Kind sells more than 50 varieties of hats, depending on the season.

And when it comes to the vendors, January relies on Cotopaxi and Kavu as well as Ski Town All-Stars, Locale Outdoors, Sunshine Tienda and Lack of Color to supply more than 50 varieties of wide-brim hats, palm hats, baseball caps and beanies, depending on the season. Headware ranges from $29 to $149. A double-sided fixture in the center of the section dedicated to children houses 36 styles. When it comes to the most popular style, January says, it’s a mixed bag. “There’s a certain type of person who wants a beanie that has a ball on the top that’s made of faux fur or a real fur,” she says. “Then there’s the type of person who just wants the Carhartt-type beanie, but they love it in 10 colors.” While all hats will eventually sell, according to January, those with a name drop of the store as well as the locale will sell three times faster.

“If you’re in a tourist area where people are coming to find something specific, really lean into that because it gets them in your store, and then they might get something else while they’re in there that they didn’t know they needed.” — SALLY JANUARY, OWNER OF ALPINE KIND She says it’s a no-brainer to give customers what they want and suggests other destination retailers to do the same. “If you’re in a tourist area where people are coming to find something specific, really lean into that because it gets them in your store, and then they might get something else while they’re in there that they didn’t know they needed. Because that’s your job — to surprise them as a store owner.” FOR THE LOVE OF TEXAS

In Bandera, Texas, the cowboy capital of the world, it probably comes as no surprise that some of the 60 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

most popular styles of hats are cowboy and western-style hats. From Stetsons to Cattleman Creases made with anything from straw to felt, cowboy hats speak loudly to tourists who visit the area known as the “last staging area for the last cattle drives of the 1800s,” according to the Tour Texas website at Glen McComb, owner of the Bandera General Store, says people come from all over the world to visit any of 12 nearby dude ranches to experience the “ranches, the longhorns and horseback riding.” And when they’ve had their fill, McComb is waiting to serve up toys, hats, candles, antiques, jewelry, apparel, candy, jellies, jams, salsas and even beverages from one of the last running soda fountains in Texas. Bandera General Store is housed in a 115-yearold building that has dutifully served as an embroidery shop, appliance store, feed-and-seed shop, a movie theater and a saddle shop in its lifetime. The historic building still has some original elements, such as the tin roof and wood flooring. Meanwhile, the open-faced shelving fixtures hail from a pharmacy. The former owners wrapped all the walls with them more than 10 years ago before McComb and his wife, Marcia, took over the location. It’s these shelves that house the baseball caps, coonskin hats and cowboy hats as well as jewelry, geodes, arrowheads, BB guns, games, Daisy rifles, keychains, Christmas ornaments, magnets and more than 500 pairs of vintage cowboy boots. Just like name drops are big at Alpine Kind, McComb notes that any hats that have “Bandera, Texas,” on them are probably the most popular. However, baseball caps with slogans are equally attractive to visitors, and Bandera General Store


At Boston Stone Gift Shop, anything related to the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics sells well.

carries enough of them to fill a 10-gallon hat. Phrases like “Love it or leave it,” “Don’t tread on me,” “Texas 1845,” and any number of those with political iterations are most coveted by visitors seeking shelter from the Texas heat with a head cover. Hats pledging allegiance to the popular show, “Yellowstone” are also quickly becoming favorites as well as the phrase “Try that in a small town,” which was recently made popular by the Jason Aldean song of the same name. “We have a hard time keeping those on the shelves,” McComb says of those hats. “We post them on Facebook and the next day people will come in and they’ll buy three of them or five of them to give away to friends.” BEST-SELLING BASEBALL CAPS

In Boston at the Boston Stone Gift Shop, Store Owner Cheryl Mena says baseball caps are far and away the most popular with Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics professional teams taking the lead in popularity. “Anything Irish-related also does very well in our store,” Mena notes. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be Celtics; it could be a green and white with a shamrock.” And for St. Patrick’s Day this year, Mena prominently featured Kelly green top hats and other novelties for the holiday — something that proved to be a slam dunk. “I brought in St. Patty’s Day stuff and set up a beautiful display at the front of the store that could be seen from the outside,” she explains. “We have a lot of bars on the street, a lot of pubs, a lot of college students that celebrate St. Patty’s Day, so they could come into the shop and celebrate with all the little knick-knacky things to party with. It was a great success for us.” Also of great success for the 21-year-old gift shop is glassware, mugs, wine glasses, whiskey glasses, shot glasses, patriotic items, historic items, glass-bottle ships, historic paper coins and currency, pirate ships, plush, Swedish dish cloths, kitchenware, aprons and anything “nautical-related or with lobsters,” Mena notes. The 600-square-foot shop, which is located along Boston’s Freedom Trail, is no slouch when it comes to winter hats and beanies, either. Mena says she dedicates a 10-foot-wide by 6-foot-tall wall display “and as soon as they come through the front door, they come face to face with all those beanies.” 62 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

MERCHANDISING: HATS And therein lies Mena’s secret to success when it comes to displaying hats from some of her top vendors, such as Priceless Wholesale, Chowdaheadz, and Alan Freedman Enterprises Inc. “Set them all up in one area as well as you can. I keep colleges together, I keep the Boston [apparel] together with the T-shirts and sweatshirts,” she explains. Due to the risk of shoplifting, licensed sports hats aren’t kept on the floor but behind the register at Boston Stone Gift Shop where customers are still able to see them, Mena adds. Priceless hats, which sell for $15 — the same as most other hats in the shop — are made in the same factory as the licensed team apparel, but are half the price of the average licensed gear, which rings in around $30 for a hat these days. At Alpine Kind, January agrees grouping hats is a great tactic in showing customers what’s available. “If you’re going to go in heavy and you want it to be a big percentage of your revenue, the centralization of them — like on a wall or some other sort of display where people don’t have to look hard — really helps people make a decision,” she says. Another key component, she stresses, is having a mirror nearby. “And that’s just so basic. I was guilty of it because I thought my store was so small.

I had several other mirrors, but I didn’t realize they were more than 10 steps away [from the hats],” January points out, adding that having a mirror, even if it’s small, makes it easy for customers to make a decision. “People really do try [the hats on] and [say], ‘I don’t like this bill. Next one. I don’t like this fit.’ So there’s something to be said with offering variety,” she says. And thankfully, all heads are not created equal — which gives retailers more to display, more to sell and more to hang their hat on. SGN

Boston Stone Gift Shop groups its college apparel together, including hats.







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, 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, California. 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. MADE FOR MERCHANDISING

Above: The Cave Store is know for its unique finds.

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. “You know, like a large blue coral or something.” 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



“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, THE CAVE STORE

Displays on antiques and historic photos make an ideal presentation at The Cave Store.

After 40 years in retail, Patrice Forrister has a pulse on what to buy.

what things are worth.” Among the typical magnets, candles, keychains, stickers, shot glasses, crystals, sun catchers, coastal-themed decor, abalone, clothing, postcards, and jewelry, 300 to 600 customers pass through the doors daily to lay claim to more 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 two prerequisites for space in the gift shop, Forrister 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. “Then we have geodes, and all sorts of rocks and crystals, and that is really amazing because two of the girls here know all about the crystals, what you should put in your purse, [et cetera],” she muses.


And for new-age and metaphysical product designers, Forrister turns to Benjamin International. “That’s a company that has all sorts of interesting little things,” she says. 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 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.” Forrister adds that tantalizing displays alone won’t always make merchandise sell. Sometimes it takes a little extra help from unique settings and/ or props. “We have a very eclectic mix of furniture and a lot of beautiful antiques that we use as displays,” she notes “It’s very unconventional.” Sure, 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.



As the story goes, in 1902, a German artist named Gustave Schultz hired immigrants to mine a tunnel from The Cave Store — Schultz’s original residence — down through the sandstone cliffs of La Jolla Cove and into Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave, according to the gift shop website. At the time, he charged only 50 cents per guest compared to the current rate of $10 for adults and $6 for children. And the rope that originally led thrill seekers to the cave was replaced by the stairs much later, but the stories that make the gift shop a destination remain the same. “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. Gift shop visitors can take the long, slippery flight of stairs to a wooden viewing platform in the hopes of glimpsing sea lions basking on the rocks or seals splashing about. FRIENDLY FACES

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 of her colleague. “He knows everything about the cave. He’s been a local for a long time.” She describes him as a mild-mannered, fabulous man with long, gray hair and “a sweetheart.” Unofficially, Gonzales is the soothing voice that calms patrons while they wait in line in the California heat to take the plunge into the cave. He reads the safety waiver, takes guests’ names and directs them to the stairs to begin the march down the lighted path to the cave. “We can’t send a whole bunch of people down there at once,” Forrister explains. “If two come up, we get to send two down. So that’s how that works. And that can be very ... people can get kind of [impatient], but they’re told to come back and shop.” ARTISTIC FINDS

Among the top-selling according to Forrister are the handmade treasures

Plush from Shore Buddies peak from a treasure chest for maximum cuteness.

and most notably — the jewelry selection. “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-ofa-kind pieces,” she notes. “We have another girl that works here that actually draws and we have her [make] stickers. We try to promote the artistic people we have.” Forrister says she also tries to support and buy local and in-state with SF Mercantile, with the “SF” being short for “San Francisco.” The company promotes “products that celebrate the vibrant and diverse culture that is unique to California and designed by artists who live here, in the Golden State,” according to the website. A DEBT OF GRATITUDE

Forrister credits the owner, Shannon Smith, for allowing her to use creative freedom in creating displays and other showstoppers for the last 15 years. Smith took over as owner after her husband, Jim, passed away. “I love the fact that I can be creative and that I work with a great bunch of girls, and the owner lets me express things and lets me visually go the way I want,” Forrister notes. “She’s very open to products that I buy.” 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 locals buying and shopping in the gift shop. “You know, it’s just such a great place,” she admits. “I’m really, really lucky that I landed here.” SGN








im Pace recently unearthed a black and white photograph of his souvenir shop from 1960, when his in-laws Cecil and Juanita Stephens first bought and adorned the Daytona Beach, Florida, building where the store is located. Then, it was called the Daytona Shell & Curio Shoppe. In the image you can see the oval facade curves out like a fishbowl toward North Atlantic Avenue, with neon-tube signage and fish shapes swimming along an underwater mural of seashells and starfish. Real palm trees peek out above the entry courtyard and a covered driveway

Big Shark has been drawing in beachgoers from Daytona Beach, Florida, since 1960 when it was owned by Cecil and Juanita Stephens. It is now owned by the couple’s daughter, Celia, and her husband, Tim Pace.



Products at Big Shark include magnets, plush, children’s toys, beach bags and home decor.

points to parking in the back. The photo is neatly labeled in cursive script, complete with the cost of the original structure: $33,865.79. Pace and his wife, Celia, took over the family business in 1979. They’ve remodeled and reworked the store many times over the years but have always put their best face forward to lure in beach-bound customers. SHIFTING SANDS

“The storefront has the same shape but different decoration,” Pace says. “I think my father-in-law designed the outside to bring the front of the store to the street.”


The palm courtyard within the pillars has served as an outdoor marketplace, shaded by temporary canopies. “In years past, we used to have huge piles of seashells,” Pace recalls. “We still sell plenty of shells, but the business has evolved.” Now called Big Shark, the 13,000-square-foot store capitalizes on Daytona Beach’s dubious distinction as the “shark bite capital of the world.” “We’re known for sharks in our area,” he says. “There are a lot of surfers and a lot of sharks.” The facade now includes large, threedimensional shark reliefs cast of fiberglass. One swims along the front side while two sharks burst

RETAILER SPOTLIGHT: BIG SHARK out of painted ocean waves on either side. Reminiscent of the original storefront, the “Big Shark” sign is brightly lit in neon. At ground level, the Pepto-pink entryway includes two full-sized statues irresistible to climbing kids and selfie-taking tourists: a dolphin and a manatee. “It helps us stand out along our strip of the (State Road) A1A,” says Pace, noting that the design went through an extensive city review process. “It helps people remember where they’ve been.” SHARK SIGHTINGS

While seashell holiday ornaments and home decor still have a beloved place in Big Shark, the store’s merchandise has shifted with the tides. Sharks are prominently featured on coffee mugs, keychains and apparel. Fossilized shark teeth embellish jewelry. “It’s given us a theme,” Pace remarks of the shark motif. Big Shark’s mix of souvenirs also includes dreamcatchers, beach bags, children’s toys, bodyboards and books. Recent inventory additions include tie-dyed face masks with “Daytona Beach, Florida” imprinted in block letters.

They also sell shirts, ball caps and drink insulator sleeves printed with imagery for events that draw thousands of out-of-towners each year, like

“Other stores in our area are decorated, but none like ours. We’re the ‘shark store.’” TIM PACE Daytona Beach Bike Week and NASCAR races at the Daytona International Speedway. The white sands of Daytona Beach are also known as a popular spring break destination. It doesn’t hurt that Big Shark is across the street from beachfront hotels and condominiums.

Keychains and jewelry are among the many finds.



Daytona Beach, Florida, merchandise is popular among visitors in town for Daytona Beach Bike Week and NASCAR races.


Big Shark’s prime location comes with its challenges. Florida’s salty air means the painted outdoor art needs routine upkeep, a task made more difficult by the sharks’ lofty perch. “They’re 20 feet off the ground. I can’t just hose them off,” Pace says. Hurricanes are a perennial threat. The glass storefront windows can be closed behind reinforced floor-to-ceiling storm shutters, while Big Shark’s sculptures were made to withstand the


harsh winds, according to Pace. “We didn’t want to find them in the parking lot,” he says. Big Shark bills itself as Daytona’s largest gift shop. Its online presence is minimal, with a basic website, listings on Tripadvisor and Yelp, and a Facebook page with about 600 followers. Like it did in old days, the store benefits from its busy tourism locale, an ample parking lot and a dramatic storefront design. Pace says the venerate store enjoys many repeat customers, many of whom have been vacationing in Daytona Beach since his late in-laws owned it. “Other stores in our area are decorated, but none like ours,” he says. “We’re the ‘shark store.’” SGN


The Lucy Desi Museum Shop offers original I Love Lucy and Desilu Productions merchandise for nostalgic fans who make the trek to Lucille Ball’s hometown.



he first episode of “I Love Lucy” premiered Oct. 15, 1951, starring Lucille Ball and her husband, Desi Arnaz, and it quickly became a beloved television sitcom. In 1996, shortly before the show’s 50th anniversary, the Lucy Desi Museum Shop opened in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, New York, to honor the lives, careers and legacies of Ball and Arnaz. The museum showcases recreated sets from the sitcom as well as props, costumes and filming equipment used on the show. The museum features two main galleries for visitors to browse. The one gallery showcases just about everything from “I Love Lucy” — recreated sets from the sitcom as well as props, costumes and filming equipment used on the 76 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

show. A second gallery is dedicated to anything related to Desilu Productions, which was founded and co-owned by Ball and Arnaz and is known for producing shows such as “I Love Lucy,” “Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible” and “The Untouchables.” That gallery also showcases Ball and Arnaz’s body of works and legacies outside the “I Love Lucy” series, including Ball’s subsequent TV series “The Lucy Show” and “Here’s Lucy.” Although Jamestown is a modest-sized town in western New York, the Lucy Desi Museum as well as the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival — typically hosted each August in Jamestown around the same time as Ball’s birthday — draw Above: The Lucy Desi Museum in Jamestown, New York, features original items created only for the museum.


Souvenirs are grouped by some of the most legendary “I Love Lucy” episodes.

thousands of “I Love Lucy” and comedy fans to the museum from across the country. To match its two galleries, the Lucy Desi Museum offers guests two stores, with one dedicated to “I Love Lucy” and the other dedicated to anything from Desilu Productions. Knowing that most of the museum’s visitors may only come once in a lifetime, Kate Rinko, retail supervisor of the Lucy Desi Museum Shop, says she strives to make memorable connections with everyone who walks in either of the museum’s stores. “The museum is special to the people who come here,” she says. “If we can provide merchandise that is special and unique to them, I think that is always the goal: to provide the best memories.” ONE-OF-A-KIND FINDS

With two museum shops, there’s no shortage of souvenirs for Lucy Desi Museum visitors. For the shop focused specifically on “I Love Lucy” merchandise, Rinko notes that the museum developed a relationship with Paramount Consumer Products to ensure it can stock licensed “I Love Lucy” products, including all seasons of “I Love Lucy,” books, T-shirts and more. When customers walk into the I Love Lucythemed museum store, they get flashbacks to favorite episodes of the sitcom. Rinko breaks sections of the shop down into some popular episodes: the Chocolate Factory episode area, a Vitameatavegamin episode area, a Going to California episode area and an area dedicated to Lucy and her friends. Rinko says having the store organized by popular “I Love Lucy” episodes serves as a great conversation starter with customers. “We’re all fans of the show,” she says of the store’s six employees. “We’re fans of the people who created it.” Meanwhile, the museum’s shop dedicated to Desilu Productions offers a variety of products

related to that studio. It carries a mix of licensed and wholesale merchandise. Rinko says she makes sure that shop stocks merchandise and seasons of popular shows produced by or filmed by Desilu Productions, such as “Star Trek.” She says that store also carries all the museum-specific merchandise. “Anything that has the Lucy Desi Museum logo sells,” she says, adding that any product with the museum logo, be it a T-shirt or a hat, often sells out. Unique to the Lucy Desi Museum, Rinko and her team have also developed exclusive collections of “I Love Lucy” products, all of which were designed by the museum and approved by Paramount and the Lucy Desi estate. Rinko says the museum has developed at least five exclusive collections of merchandise for its customers.

“If we can provide merchandise that is special and unique to them, I think that is always the goal: to provide the best memories.” — KATE RINKO, LUCY DESI MUSEUM SHOP “We do everything in house,” Rinko says of developing exclusive “I Love Lucy” merchandise collections. “Myself and a graphic designer work on creating a product design. We start with the logo for the collection … and product mockups. From there we create a proposal that explains what the collection is about and why we feel it is important to carry. We send that to [Paramount Consumer Products] and the Lucy Desi estate for official approval. Once it’s approved, we send it off to our vendors we work with.” Rinko says the museum’s Polka Dot Gift Collection offers some original souvenirs decked out in Lucy Ricardo’s distinctive polka dot style, such as the Polka Dot Collection Polka Dot Coasters, Polka Dot Collection Compact Mirror or Polka Dot Mint Tins. The museum store has also developed NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE 77


The National Comedy Center shop features iconic comedic prop-themed souvenirs.

a Vitameatavegamin Word Art Collection to celebrate one of the most memorable episodes of the show, “Lucy Does a TV Commercial.” Shop customers can buy Vitameatavegamin Word Art 16-ounce Tumblers, Vitameatavegamin T-shirts or Vitameatavegamin Bumper Stickers. “We’re always expanding these products as well, which is another fun feature of being able to create your own products,” says Rinko, adding that the museum store is in the process of developing a, “Lucy, I’m Home!” collection next. She adds that store customers love that these products are one-of-a-kind finds — new merchandise they can’t find on Amazon or in other retail shops. “You aren’t going to find [these products] on any other “I Love Lucy” product site,” says Rinko. “I think that’s very important to our stores. It helps us to stand out. To be able to create new merchandise for [customers] that they’re loving is a really fun thing to do.” DRAWING A CROWD

Early August is busy season for the Lucy Desi Museum Shop. Thousands of visitors come to Jamestown each August for the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.

An interactive online experience Not all “I Love Lucy” fans are able to make the journey to Jamestown, New York, to see the Lucy Desi Museum. To give these fans a taste of what the museum and store have to offer, the Lucy Desi Museum invites fans to take a virtual tour of the Lucy Desi Museum Shop. Similar to virtual tours of properties offered by real estate agents, the feature showcases the variety of displays and assortment of products throughout the store. Visitors can click their way through the long wall of “I Love Lucy”-themed T-shirts and display tables stocked with souvenir mugs, glasses and tumblers. Toward the cash wrap, the store has an “I Love Lucy”-themed penny press. Although online store visitors can’t use the penny press, much of the merchandise displayed on the tour can be purchased from the online shop. Kate Rinko, retail supervisor at the Lucy Desi Museum Shop, says the museum released the virtual walkthrough feature two to three years ago. “Some of our guests and customers will call us to let us know they might never actually make it to the museum,” says Rinko. “We wanted to give them the experience of at least being able to walk through the gift shop and get that experience without coming. It just adds a different level to our shop that other online shops might not have.”


“The festival is bigger than just Lucy fans,” says Gary Hahn, vice president of marketing and communications for the Lucy Desi Museum and National Comedy Center, noting that people come to celebrate all aspects of comedy. In 2023, people flocked to Jamestown to see festival headliners Gabriel Iglesias and Taylor Tomlinson as well as many other stand-up comedians and comedy-related events. To accommodate the big crowds, Rinko says she makes sure her shops are well-stocked for festival time. The museum shop also helps to create and sell a Lucille Ball Comedy Festival T-shirt specific to that event each year. “It’s one of our best weeks for retail,” she says. “I Love Lucy” Day, which is Oct. 15, is another important date for the destination retailer. The day recognizes the anniversary of the show’s debut on CBS. Hahn notes that the museum is ramping up for the show’s 75th anniversary, which will be in 2026. Next April, Jamestown will be in the path of totality for a solar eclipse. Hahn says the museum store plans to offer some themed glasses for the occasion. And throughout the year, Rinko says she likes to refocus the I Love Lucy store displays around anniversaries for different episodes of the show. She says, “Any type of episode holiday or anniversary, we rotate product around to focus on that.” EXECUTING LUCY’S VISION

Lucille Ball certainly made sure to pay homage to her hometown of Jamestown in many episodes of “I Love Lucy.” While she appreciated that town leaders had approached her about hosting a Lucille Ball Comedy Festival and building a museum in her honor just prior to her death in 1989, Hahn notes that Ball wanted the town to honor all of comedy through the festival and a comprehensive museum devoted to the comedy art form. To expand on Ball’s vision of making Jamestown the nation’s main comedy hub, the National Comedy Center opened in 2018 to present the story of comedy and preserve its heritage. The new museum offers history, to be sure, but it’s definitely not a quiet museum. “It’s one of the most interactive museums in the world,” says Hahn. “It offers a personalized experience. You create a sense of humor profile as you come in, which goes on a laugh band on your wrist with an RFID chip. We customize content delivered to you based on your sense of humor profile.” National Comedy Center exhibits focus on just about any type of comedy out there — stand-up, movies, sketch and improv. Some exhibits are dedicated to the comedy greats, like Johnny Carson or Carl Reiner. One room in the museum invites guests to do stand-up karaoke, where they can

RETAIL SPOTLIGHT: LUCY DESI MUSEUM SHOP cite comedy routines from famous stand-up artists in front of family and friends. And, of course, the museum features a shop that Hahn describes as the “brick-and-mortar hub for all-things funny.” The National Comedy Center shop stocks a variety of products, some of which are licensed merchandise for TV shows or movies as well as some generally funny products like rubber chickens and oven mitts or coasters with funny sayings. Since customers might have a wide variety of tastes in comedy and what’s funny, Rinko says there are endless merchandising possibilities. But, she adds, she tries to tie merchandising decisions closely to exhibits in the museum. “What works best is having our merchandise match what we have on display in the museum,” says Rinko. “If Jack Black’s costume from “School of Rock” is on display, we’ll carry “School of Rock” merchandise. Anytime you tie back to what you see in the museum helps so when you get to the shop, you’re reminded of the fun times you had in the museum.” She says customer recommendations also help her with that particular shop. Hahn and Rinko say customers at both Lucy Desi Museum shops and the National Comedy

The National Comedy Center shop salutes comedians like Johnny Carson and Carl Reiner.

Center shop are always impressed by how fun their selections are. Hahn says the shops are “filled with pure joy,” offering merchandise that comedy fans are passionate about. “When they get here, they are overwhelmed with the fun we have inside,” says Rinko. “That helps our stores stand out from general gift stores you find down the street.” SGN






Joy Love

Maureen Ryan

Vice president of merchandising and warehouse operations, San Diego Wildlife Zoo Alliance

Buyer and merchandising manager, Albuquerque Museum Foundation




oo and museum gift shops both play an important role in supporting the mission and causes of their organizations with their merchandise mix. It is important that the gifts and souvenirs they carry also reflect the exhibits and appeal to the diverse crowd that explores the attraction. But there are also plenty of differences. Kristin Ely sat down with two prominent buyers from a major museum and zoo during a recent Las Vegas Market. In this multi-part series, which will run in subsequent issues of Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties, Ely to spoke Joy Love, vice president of merchandising

and warehouse operations, San Diego Wildlife Zoo Alliance and Maureen Ryan, Museum Store Manager, Albuquerque Museum Foundation, about the various operational aspects of managing a gift shop that supports an attraction. In the first of this multi-part series, participants discuss buying strategies. Kristin Ely (KE): Please tell us a little bit about your role within your gift store operation. Joy Love, San Diego Wildlife Zoo Alliance (JL): I am the vice president of merchandising and warehouse operations for San Diego Zoo Wildlife clients. We cover roughly 22 stores across two locations, San Diego Zoo


and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. My team consists of about 40 individuals. They oversee the whole buying side. We’ve got three merchandise managers and three buyers who report to them, and we also have the warehouse side of things. Our warehouse side receives the goods, performs quality control, puts away, packs and fulfills product for our online store, Maureen Ryan, Albuquerque Museum Store (MR): I have been at the museum for 12 years. I am currently the buyer and merchandise manager. I was the store manager up until last year and I gave that up so I could focus my time on expanding marketing and buying and other aspects [of gift shop operations] that I prefer to do. We are

BUSINESS: ZOO & MUSEUM Q&A an art and history museum and the store is 2,400 square feet. When I started years ago, the store was in the red and now were are at almost $1 million per year.

From left to right, Joy Love, Kristin Ely and Maureen Ryan, during Summer Las Vegas Market.

KE: What shows do you attend and what is your approach for meeting with existing and new vendors? JL: We typically attend both Las Vegas Markets in January and July, and we typically do one or both ASD markets and the Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show — that’s the show that my entire team attends. Sometimes we will do Toy Fair in New York. The Gathering West has been in San Diego the last few years so we all attend that and then we’ll send one or two buyers to The Gathering East. Our approach is we always try to meet with our established vendors to work on ongoing projects and


see if there’s anything new, develop product with them, et cetera. We always try to take the first day of the show to walk the entire show to see if there is anything new and different, anyone we’ve spoken to in the past but didn’t have a need necessarily for their product then, but might now. And just because we haven’t had a need for other brands in the past, doesn’t mean we won’t in the future, so we always like to make our introductions and see what’s new out there. MR: I usually come to both winter and summer Las Vegas Markets. A lot of my sales reps work that market so it’s wonderful because I get to work with people who know my store and the diversity of my assortment. I also go to New York NOW in August mainly because of holiday buying. I really look for some higher-end things and it’s a perfect place to go and buy modern kinds of things. I can always go to my vendors locally, but it’s nice to bring in some other higher-end things to sell at holiday time. I do also walk the show, especially the temporaries the first day, because I don’t usually set appointment the first day. I call those “my people” because they are smaller vendors and there are a lot of artist-related vendors there, including some real-

BUSINESS: ZOO & MUSEUM Q&A ly cool products from women-owned companies as well as Fair Trade, and those are certainly categories I like to support as I am doing my buying. KE: How important is establishing relationships with vendors and reps and how do you foster those relationships? JL: I think it’s extremely important to have great relationships with you vendors. Great doesn’t mean you’re on the same page 100% of the time, but it’s your tried-and-true vendors who will go to bat for you and who you can trust and know they are going to deliver the product in the quality that they have said they were going to. A lot of times, seasonally, we’ve got deadlines that we have to hit, like if we are not set up and in full position for our summer season in terms of inventory and our feature tables, then it could mean the difference between a great week of sales and that is huge in Q3 and Q4 for us. We have a lot of long-term vendors that we’ve worked with a long time. That doesn’t mean there’s not a place for new ones to go to to expand our search as needed, and we enjoy meeting new vendors and building relationships with new ones.

MR: It’s hugely important. We pretty much change a third of our store three times a year. We have major shows that are generated from our curatorial team or a traveling show, and those are what bring people into the museum. We still have our local people who come to see exhibitions but the big blockbuster things usually come from outside so I am buying specifically to augment and support the exhibition.

“The people you work with on a regular basis, they go to bat for you and say, ‘No problem. We can get that done for you.’ It works out great.” — MAUREEN RYAN, ALBUQUERQUE MUSEUM STORE To the people that I work with on a regular basis, they all know and they are scouting for me as well to help me find that one special thing that I might need. As I develop the vision, I will then be in touch with them. That’s where special projects and products come into play, and we have to have enough time to get them produced. The people you work with on a regular basis, they go to bat for you and say, “No problem. We can get that done for you.” It works out great.


BUSINESS: ZOO & MUSEUM Q&A KE: Where else do you go aside from shows to procure merchandise and how effective are those methods (i.e., online platforms, rep visits, social media)? JL: Often times vendors will invite us to visit their showrooms. We do a lot of competitive shopping, so whether it be malls or other amusement parks or other zoos, we’d like to see what’s going on. We like to see what they stand for, what they are featuring, what they have in depth, what items are on their markdown rack. We are really looking to see what they are doing in their businesses that may be different from ours. We don’t rely solely on trade shows. Our younger buyers use Instagram and TikTok to capitalize on the trends we see there — not exactly that exact merchandise, but it provides a lot of inspiration. MR: I live in a state where there are as many artists as you can imagine. I go to a lot of artist markets in New Mexico. People also come into the store. I always make time to see anyone who comes in because it might be the one thing I didn’t know I needed, and they just brought it to me. There are a lot of studio tours, especially in the


spring and fall, and you can go to a beautiful area like Abiquiú where Georgia O’Keefe is from and meet all these wonderful creative people and sometimes we find some really remarkable things. Last year I went to The Sunflower Festival in a little mountain town called Mountainair and there was this woman there and she had the cutest what she calls “ouchless cactus.” They are fabric and they’re adorable. She makes big ones, small ones; she makes a prickly pear and a saguaro. It’s a happy product. I thought, “Well, let’s just see,” and it’s been working. I think we’ve reordered three times already. Sometimes I am in a store and I see a goofy little thing and it’s like, “Oh I have to research that.” I am always on the hunt. KE: When is your busy season, and when do you do your buying for your busy season? How often are you refreshing/rotating merchandise throughout the year? JL: Basically our busy season is when kids are out of school. Think spring break, summer break and then holiday break. We prep for those by building up our bestsellers, buying in bulk quantity probably the prior month just so we’re ready. We’ve got it

BUSINESS: ZOO & MUSEUM Q&A ready to go in the warehouse and fulfill the replenishment required of the stores on a daily basis. That is for the everyday core items. For any trend or fashion merchandise we have to buy further out. Apparel is pretty quick. It can take four to six weeks but for hard goods (souvenirs, magnets, keychains, water bottles, and mugs), it is more like eight months and even longer at times. There’s a lot of year-round planning that goes on for various events that we know will happen at the zoo or park. For example, every year at Safari Park we do Butterfly Jungle, so we know that that is going to happen and needs to be set up in February. We’ll start planning for that about six to eight months in advance. Then, there’s the tried-and-true items that will go into that assortment on a yearly basis, but we want to change up the designs. Feature tables — the tables that are front and focal in the stores are changed out four to five times per year as well as the window displays.

are an art and history museum, I don’t really buy merchandise specifically for that. I believe they are coming to the museum for yet a different experience because we also have a balloon park and a balloon museum. Holiday is huge for us because that is a great time for locals to come. Sometimes they don’t even go into the museum, they just make a hard left right into the store shop.

MR: Our big seasons include our Balloon Fiesta, which is in the fall. We have a million people who come to Albuquerque to look up into the sky and see our beautiful hot air balloons. Because we

Part II of the Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties Zoo and Museum Q&A will run in the January-February 2024 issue, and will cover destination-driven souvenir and gift trends.

“Our younger buyers use Instagram and TikTok to capitalize on the trends we see there — not exactly that exact merchandise, but it provides a lot of inspiration.” — JOY LOVE, SAN DIEGO WILDLIFE ZOO ALLIANCE Then we are definitely driven by our exhibitions. The museum is planning three or four years out on them so we know when those will fall. SGN



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A.T. Storrs Ltd. Alaskan Suncatchers 83 Alynn Neckwear dba Wild Attire 87 American Gift Corp. Atlanta Market Aurora World Bags by Bruno 41 Beacon Design Bucket Wonders Cool Jewels Crystal Arrow 62 Desperate Enterprises, 57 Dutch American Eagle Emblem 85 Exist Inc. 92 Exotic Sea Images 55 Fiesta Toy 39 Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show Cover Jackson Pacific 45 Kool Tees 82 Kurt S. Adler 27 Las Vegas Market LaserGifts Lipco ..................................................................................... 65 Lorab 79 Monogram International 81 Penny Bandz Punchkins 88 SOUVENIRS, GIFTS & NOVELTIES MAGAZINE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2023

Ramsom Imports Rocky Mountain Apparel, Gift & Resort Show Ryan Marie Resort 16 Seagull International Inc. 62 ShipShapeStyles Signs 4 Fun 54 Silver Streak Simply Southern 59 Souvenir Avanti Inc. 67 Souvenir Source Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties, 84, 89 SS Handcrafted Art Surf Expo 19 The Charleston Mint 22 The Petting Zoo 29 The Postcard Factory/PCF Souvenirs The Reunion 15 Touchstone Pottery Town Pride Violette Stickers Wayne Carver Wheeler Manufacturing Whistle Creek Wikki Stix 30 Wildthings Snap-Ons 63 Wind River 61 Xplorer Maps 71

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