Cindy`s hospital gift shop manager’s newsletter


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Published and Copyrighted by Cindy Jones, your resource for hospital gift shop consulting and design

This newsletter provides managers an opportunity to exchange success/horror stories and share your thoughts on industry hot topics. My goal is to provide you with useful information and a forum for getting your questions answered.

--There are 2,000 hospital gift shop managers presently benefiting from the information in Cindy’s free newsletter. We'll include items that we feel have an interest to a large number of our readers. Have you sent your tip this quarter? Send them to:

--I believe that our readers are professionals at all levels. While we try to keep the content at a reasonably advanced level, we occasionally post items for folks newer to hospital gift shops. Also, I try to weed out the things I think are too much of a "duh" or are self-promotional. So, please, send the ideas that make your shop sing. I will decide if I think it will be of sufficient interest to enough of our readers to post.

--Remember, your "dues" for this free e-newsletter are to contribute responses and tips for the benefit of other readers.

What have you done lately that seems to be working?

What have you tried that you think might work for your colleagues?

New ways to increase sales?

--Please share what you've learned recently.

--Try to get right to the point. Whenever we make edits, they are to increase brevity and clarity.

--To reduce my time spent on editing email submissions, please ensure they:

- Are written clearly,

- Are easy to understand and have proper grammar, spelling and punctuation.

-  If you are mentioning a vendor, please include the phone number or website.

- Do not type your posting in caps.

- Please, no string of dots……  Complete sentences are appreciated.

--PLEASE don't be offended if I decide not to post your tip. It might be for any number of reasons, such as, we just had a similar discussion a few issues back.

--We take no responsibility for the accuracy of the postings. All contents of the postings are the responsibility of the posting party.

--NO ARCHIVES  Sorry, I have no way to archive topics and information from past bulletins.  I recommend you save copies of this newsletter so you can retrieve the information you need.

-PLEASE add your name, hospital name and location each time you submit an entry.



Cindy’s newsletter is not to be copied and posted in any other print newsletter or on any Website without prior permission from Cindy Jones. You may share one issue with a fellow manager but they must go to my website to subscribe for future issues.



FROM CINDY                      FROM CINDY                    FROM CINDY




  • Begin putting new fall merchandise out. Bring in assortments of trimmings that set the mood for fall, i.e., potpourri, votives, sprays, gift candles, ornamental pumpkins, fall flags, fall swags and artificial fall flora.

  • Clean out storage areas for fall and Christmas deliveries.

  • Post customer policies in a prominent location in your shop.

  • Encourage shop volunteers and staff to think in terms of total shop success rather than just their category and turf. Working harmoniously as a team will produce more profitable results.

  • Have a “dog days of summer” promotion to move out old merchandise

  • As you begin pricing arriving holiday merchandise, make sure you take the markup necessary to make a good profit. Double the price and add 6-10% for shipping. Formula: Cost x 2.1.
  • There is still time to implement employee payroll deductions for the holidays.  Employee payroll deductions will increase sales by approximately 20-50%.

  • Finish fall and holiday apparel (sweatshirts, warm-ups) buying.

  • Begin spring ladies apparel buying.

  • Attend a local trade show for hot new items.

  • Order tissue, boxes and bags for holidays.

  • Order your artificial Christmas tree (a narrow style tree to conserve space) on which to display ornaments? And don’t forget to order clear mini-tree lights.


Reassess your shop’s hours. Limited hours mean limited sales and service. Good customer service means being open at the right time. Once shop hours have been determined, maintain them. The quickest way to turn customers off is to have irregular hours. Don’t let this be said about your shop, “We are open in the morning when we get here and closed when we decide to go home.”





  • Mohair and faux fur. Furry is making an appearance on everything from handbags to blankets to upholstery.

  • Chalkboards. Chalkboard decals are a fun and casual way to add personalization on drinking glasses, apparel and more.

  • Lattice and trellis prints. The geometry and clean lines of these prints make them a fun, modern incorporation in home décor and giftware.

  • Rough, unpolished jewelry. Dainty gemstones are no more — look for necklaces and bracelets with raw-looking, uncut stones with natural edges.

  • Sunburst. No longer solely for retro-inspired mirrors, the sunburst is making its way onto picture frames, stationery and jewelry.

  • Jute. Move over canvas, jute is cornering the market on cottage-chic and is being used for tote bags, throw pillows, upholstery and more.
  • Turquoise and light shades of blue. Intense royal and ocean blues are being replaced with lighter, more whimsical shades of the hue.

  • Contemporary indoor botanicals. Gone are the days of shaggy topiaries. Look for indoor plants and holders that maintain a sleek, contemporary feel.

  • Texture. Giftware is appealing to the tactile with exaggerated embroidery, pintucks, weaving, letterpress and thermography details.

  • Natural fragrances. Musky, overly floral scents are being replaced with more natural, fresh fragrances. Think lime, bamboo, rosemary and mint.







Jewelry has been a good seller even in these tougher times.  The good thing about jewelry is that it doesn’t cost much to ship, you can find a good range of prices to fit your customers and it’s pretty easy to display.  If you haven’t featured watches, I suggest you try Clock It To Ya, Inc. out of Nova Scotia (902) 462-6607.  They have been a good company to deal with and you may order one of a style, which is great for our small store.  Ruth Mackin, Manager, at Riverside Medical Center, Waupaca, WI



Currently our hot item is the Coobie bra.  Our first shipment sold out in 6 days, and just yesterday we sold 18.  Many of our staff that wear scrubs love them because the bra doesn't gap when they lean over a patient.  It seems to lay more like a camisole.  Here is the website to check them out  --Beth Dickey, Great River Gift Shop Manager, Great River Medical Center, West Burlington, IA



Embellish Your Story from Demdaco. We continue to reorder & reorder

Jewelry continues to be a great seller for us. We look for the unique!  --

Donna Boyland, CAVS, Waterfall’s Edge @ Witham, Lebanon, IN 46052




Has anyone ever received a rebate for magazine sales through a clearing house named El Eayrs & Associates?

I received a check from them today and in my correspondence (e-mail only, no phone) with the manager, Robert Nelson, he said they are the largest company giving rebates through the publishers. I asked for a list of hospitals that currently receive rebates from them and they sent a list of every hospital in Ohio. I am always leery when someone sends me $17with a form requesting my tax ID # and account # of my magazine supplier. I asked how I received this check without giving him that info and he said it was provided to him though my magazine seller….whom he did not call by name. I am just curious to see if any one has heard of them. 

Thanks, Cindy for giving us this great way of connecting with each other!  --Terri Sagaser, Buyer/Manager, Akron City Hospital Gift Shop, Akron, Ohio, 330-375-6634



I will be getting information regarding Robert Nelson and magazine rebates and I hope to report back to you all in the next newsletter.





Hands down, our best selling plush line is from Ty.  Their price point is great and our customers love the fact that they can get a nice sized stuffed animal for under $12.  We have been selling lots of their $10 wholesale animals such as the large Hello Kitty, Blues Clues, SpongeBob, and Dora.  In addition, although there are only a few choices, their $20 wholesale stuffed animals have really flown out the door.  Our second best line was Russ Berrie, but unfortunately they won't be selling anymore.  We have been incredibly successful with the sound and motion plush from Kelli's, especially their Mills line.  --Nancy Willis, Director of Volunteer Services, Children's Hospital, New Orleans



For us it is hands down Mary Meyer.  We used to only carry Ty. When they changed their Fluffies I added on Aurora.  I still love Aurora for baby gifts only as they have the baby boy and girl bears but Mary Meyer's "Cheery Cheeks" line has been amazing in our little 400 sq. ft. shop.  --Lorraine McDilda, buyer, The Gift Shop at Meadows, Meadows Reg. Med. Ctr., Vidalia, GA



We sell Wishpets, Link 2 Sales, 866-303-5465, plush and it does very well for us. Thanks for your newsletter, it is a great help to us.  --Wanda Stapleton, Twin Cities Hospital Aux. Niceville, FL



My hottest selling plush right now is the Fuzzle line from Douglas.  When I gave them a prime shelf in my plush section, they began flying off the shelves.  I have just placed another large reorder on them.  If you only have room to try a few of the fabric patterns, be sure to order the Black Flower group and the Peace Group.  1-800-992-9002.

Another great seller for us has been the Cheery Cheeks collection from Mary Meyer.  I can’t wait to receive their Holiday selection of Cheery Cheeks.  They look adorable as well.  1-800-451-4387

If you haven’t tried the Beanie Boos from Ty, you are missing out.  They are a great price point at $4.99 retail and we reorder every few weeks to keep our display stocked.  Customers absolutely fall in love with them and want to collect them all.   We also sell  a large number of their Dora and Diego plush as well as their Scooby Doo.   1-800-876-8000 



With Russ no longer in business, my concern is replacing their great selling YMKO dogs.  I am currently looking at Douglas as the next best option for realistic dogs.  Does anyone else know of a good supplier for this type of plush?  --Sabra Shields, Manager, Gift Shops, Sanford USD Medical Center



Our best selling plush lines are Aurora and Gund.  The Yoo Hoo & Friends collection from Aurora is great and they keep adding new items.  The Get Well t-shirts bears and “Gund Fun” musical plush does the best for us from Gund.  Our #1 plush item overall is the “HAPPY PILL”.  You can get it from Kelli’s or from Just for Laughs, 1-800-837-7799.  We have sold 250 Happy Pills in a year and we retail them for $5.99.  We always put a couple at the counter and our customers can’t resist buying one.    –Jill Kusmierek, Parma Hospital Gift Shop, Parma, Ohio.



Be careful out there.  We just had our sales rep of 20 years from Aurora tell us that Aurora just let her go and they are hiring former Russ Berrie reps. She was the # 1 sales rep. for the company. We will not be carrying Aurora any longer. This is not a company I want to deal with any longer.  --Donna Boyland, CAVS, Waterfall’s Edge @ Witham, Lebanon, IN





I feel if you aren't using Facebook you are really missing out on a great way to get information to your customers.  It is all about social media these days. Your customer has to "like" you in order for them to receive the information on their wall.  It isn't any different than sending postcards, mailings, or emails to customers who opt in for this type of message.  Once you get to a certain level of "likes" you will have a feature called Page Insights that will give you information on how many customers are looking at your page on a regular basis, and also demographic information about the users.  We use it to introduce new products, show new displays, promotions, or to even spotlight a volunteer.  I don't post any prices and if someone asks about a price I respond through their inbox on Facebook.  --Beth Dickey, Great River Gift Shop Manager, Great River Medical Center, West Burlingt on,



We have a Facebook page.  The Loar Auxiliary Gift Shop, and it works well for us.  We promote special sales both in the gift shop and in the main lobby.  I do special one day short notice specials to keep interest strong.  We have a guest book in the gift shop for customers that express interest in being coming connected with us.  We send post cards announcing all special events and in store promotions.  The bottom of our receipt has space for special notes and often I attach a coupon for use on the next visit.  Our administration has urged us to be more self-promoting with advertising and we are looking for new ways to reach that un tapped customer.  Two of our Auxiliary members recently took a selection of best selling merchandise to a local civic club and made a presentation of our gift shop.  They passed out Introductory coupons inviting new customers to try us out.  They came home with cash for the items they took with them and the coupons were used quickly in the following days.  I would like to hear about unique promotions that others are trying.  --Denise, Loar Auxiliary Gift Shop, Garrett County Memorial Hospital, MD.





Regarding used books, we have a cart that we put out in the hallway with a sign to pay for the used books in the Gift Shop so it doesn't take up space inside the Gift Shop.  We sell paperback books at $.50 and hardcover at $1.00.  The customers love how inexpensive they are and the cart always seem to be well stocked.  This is all a profit for the medical center.  --Darcy Olson, Gift Shop Specialist, Cambridge Medical Center, Cambridge, MN




We are looking for some reasonably priced small lamps to sell in our two hospital gift shops, for lighting functions in the displays as well as for saleable merchandise.  Does anyone have some good vendors for lamps, up to about 16” high?  I used to order many years ago from CBK for lamps with great success, but since they were taken over, they no longer carry these kind of items. Variety lamps would work well, too.

Thanks for any suggestions. (And what a wonderful publication this is, Cindy!!  Thank you!!)  --Jan Schuler, Volunteer Services Coordinator, (352)323-5569; Fax (352)323-5539





I am looking for a source for magnetic reel badges, preferable zip reels.  We’ve had multiple requests lately as all employees now have to wear badge reels instead of lanyards and the clip style badge reels are not working for everyone. Thanks.  --Sara Cutts, Osceola Medical Center Gift Shop




For the person who uses "paper back books" for the enjoyment of the patient - we have discontinued having a library of books due to infection control.  If a patient gets a magazine, book or word find book they become the property of the patient and must go home with them or go in the basket for disposal.  Others might want to think about this.  --Caroline Crowell Volunteer Service Director Manager Cornerstone Gift Shoppe



Our volunteer organization just had a one-day 2-hour gently used book and purse sale and netted $200.00.  We are a small rural facility.  Instead of using your shop space for these books you might want to hold special sales events.  --Donna Boyland, CAVS, Waterfall’s Edge @ Witham, Lebanon, IN





Our shop is owned and operated by the volunteer organization.  We do not pay the hospital for the space.  --Donna Boyland, CAVS, Waterfall’s Edge @ Witham, Lebanon, In.  46052



We have 435 square feet of gift shop and we do not pay rent to the hospital.  We don't pay any heat, electrical either.  --Deb Anderson Volunteer Coordinator/Gift Shop Manager Essentia Health St. Joseph's Medical Center Volunteer Services 523 North Third Street Brainerd, MN 





The vendor market here closed and out gift shop manager is looking for others in New England to attend.

Does anyone have suggestions?  Or reps that are willing to come to the hospital to show their products.  --Laura Dilts, Director of Volunteers/Transport, Harrington Memorial Hospital Southbridge, Massachusetts


RESPONSE:  We do not travel to markets due to the expense so the sales reps have to come to us and bring samples.  The closest mart to us is Chicago.   --Donna Boyland, CAVS, Waterfall’s Edge @ Witham, Lebanon, In. 46052





Our hospital is under the same restriction.  We now bring in the merchandise under a consignment contract, we negotiate the percentage the hospital will receive (or our 'MARK UP' and we run all sales through our mobile register system.  We then pay the vendor as we would any other vendor...their percentage of the merchandise value (So if the item retail is $10.00 and the vendor requires 80% or $8.00 for this item and we keep the 20%).  So essentially it is exactly the same but we take possession of the merchandise for a short time frame and have the option to have them take back all merchandise unsold.  We just COLLECT ALL THE MONEY and they get paid after the event ends where before they collected the money and made a donation back (which is the main problem when dealing with union related issues).  The new procedure lets you control the sale and protect you from a vendor undercutting your proceeds.  You know what you sold and you c ollect all funds and the vendor is paid after the fact.  It is more work for the Gift Shop but well worth the efforts especially since most vendors don't want to lose your business and many times will give a higher 'MARK UP' or proceed amount just to get your business.  --Anonymous





We are a small gift shop in a rural hospital.  When we go to the closest large city, over 1 hour away, we stop at Marshall’s and Hobby Lobby to do shopping for cute single items that might be on sale.  These 2 stores accept our tax exempt information.  --Linda Davis, Director of Volunteer Services, Hill Country Memorial Hospital/PO Box 835, Fredericksburg, TX 





We have an inventory of OTC items from the hospital pharmacy for employee and volunteer purchase only.  Included in the inventory of about 20 items are nicotine patches and gum.  The Pharmacy staff is too busy to handle these requests so we continue to offer as a courtesy service to the employees/volunteers. For a list of the items we supply, please contact me.  --Amy L. McAden, CAVS, Director of Volunteer Services, HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, The Kingston Hospital Campus, Kingston, NY.





Check with you pharmacy at the facility.  We did the same thing and our pharmacy ordered it in and sold it to us.  Just FYI not one package sold.  --Donna Boyland, CAVS, Waterfall’s Edge @ Witham, Lebanon, IN





We utilize Facebook in many different ways already.  We are positing promotions, events and new merchandise on the site every week.  It is a great way to generate buzz.  We have utilized our marketing group who has a social media position to help us post and keep our site fresh and up-to-date.  If you are looking for a sample of what we post you can log on to Facebook and become a friend of UPMC Hamot.  --Stephanie Flanagan, Retail Operations Manager, UPMC Hamot, , Erie, PA





I am up in Canada & have just read on line about a hot new item called "IVPole Pals - I have not yet seen them mentioned in your newsletter so that makes me wonder if they are that new or have they been around in the US for a long time & are no longer unique or no longer a good seller.

We get many great ideas from your newsletter. Thanks.  --Heather Munroe, Revenue Coordinator, Foothills Medical Centre, Peter Lougheed Centre, Alberta Children's Hospital,





We give out white Kraft gift bags with tissue paper for customers that are purchasing something to be used as a gift.  We have a small size bag that will hold most anything that customers buy.  We also have a larger size bag for the larger size plush or for purses and large size gifts.  We put a self-adhesive label on the bag ahead of time so that people know where the gift came from.  We use the smaller size bags most often.  --Susan Shaffer, Twig Gift Shop, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY




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DIRECT MAGAZINE SERVICE for Hospital Gift Shops -You choose your titles – Instant credit for unsold copies - Best discounts - No service charges - McKnight Sales Company, 800-208-8078,




DIRECT FRAGRANCES  Want to be a trendsetter? Become the "Mini-Mall" for your employees! Offer your employees and customers the latest in department store perfumes, with gorgeous packaging at wholesale prices. Employee payroll deduction is recommended. References from hospital gift shops available. Please call Direct Fragrances 1-800-800-4208 for a FREE catalog.




KELLI'S GIFT SHOP SUPPLIERS exciting 2011 spring/seasonal catalog is now available with a special offer good through 6/30/11!  If you’re not yet a customer, call 888-609-8860.




Meet ARBAPRO, the complete POS Inventory Control System, bringing you inventory control, automated payroll deductions, and preferred customer management. ARBAPRO makes your job easier and profit margins higher. Now -- ARBA’s all new “Personal Touch” support programs, on-site and Webex training tailored to your volunteer staffed shop! 866-889-3093 WWW.ARBAPRO.COM




GUARANTEED sales from a-door-animals BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS!  17”-18” super soft stuffed animals holding dry-erase hearts hang on the hospital door.  All 5 styles are WASHABLE, so they become a cuddly best friend and later a Tooth Fairy animal.  DISNEY editors named a-door-nimals one of the ‘Top 15 Baby Gifts’.  $12.75 each.




SNOOZIES® are the first true crossover between a slipper and a sock! Made with soft-brushed fleece, warm Sherpa lining, nonskid soles, and machine washable!  Available in women's S to XL in a variety of adorable prints! Cost $3.75 - MSRP $12.00. Selling like hotcakes in hospital gift shops! Online at: or call 252-991-3373 Ext 201.




AbdoMend™ Soft Cotton Binders/Belts to reduce pain, stress and increase mobility for C Section, Childbirth, Hysterectomy, and abdominal surgery patients. 5 sizes. Patients need AbdoMend™.




Introducing the revolutionary new fleece SLEEPY SLEEVE! Appreciated by patients and caregivers for its comfort and practicality. For photos, information and introductory wholesale offer, 





CONSIDER YOURSELF HUGGED® gifts for babies and adults.  Guaranteed Sales! Fall, Catalog Available! See Free Shipping Code in catalog *first order only 866-263-2372





Cindy Jones Associates

4554 Cottonwood Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Consultant, Designer and Speaker

Phone: 734-769-6536 Fax: 734-769-8556





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