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March 2014

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ait in line long enough and that accessory or last-minute gift starts to look a lot more appealing. To assess what is involved in courting the impulse buyer, we talked to merchandising experts at zoos and animal sanctuaries around the country to find out how best to increase add-on sales. Some of their tips may be surprising.

Small plush pieces can make the perfect affordable impulse buy. At the Cameron Park Zoo, the souvenir store's retail sales manager is always looking for fresh merchandise to keep frequent visitors interested and buying.

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion, Ind., may not operate a traditional gift shop like a lot of other attractions, but here, every dollar counts. Black Pine has become a haven for wild animals, a kind of retirement community for lions, tigers, bears and other big and small species alike. Not only is the sanctuary charged with saving non-domestic animals who face a grim future, but they help educate communities about why it’s wrong to buy, sell, breed or trade animals.

That’s why $10,000 gross sales in souvenirs can make a difference. “We have a few items that we pack in and out of tubs daily in an outdoor kiosk of sorts,” explained Lori Gagen, Black Pine’s executive director. “Our selections are greatly limited due to weather concerns.” But of these items, she admitted plush and vinyl animal toys sell well, as do custom photo magnets and key rings, T-shirts and adoption kits. Her hope is that in addition to making a few extra dollars each year for the sanctuary, the items also help spread the word about animal welfare, starting with some of the site’s youngest visitors.

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