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Books and plush at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Jr. Zookeepers store are far more attractive in this wood display than they were in the metal pieces used previously.
n today’s economy, the old adage “make the most of what you’ve got” applies in all facets of the zoo and aquarium business – especially in our retail shops. When expansions or renovations are not financially feasible or even logistically possible, the strategic application of racks, displays, lighting and other accessories can go a long way towards delighting and enticing gift shop guests.

Solving the problem of inadequate space

For the 600-square-foot combination gift shop/reception area in the Louisburg, Kansas-based Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary, space is at a premium. “We don't have a lot of room and expansion is not in the plans,” shared Linda Fries, the non-profit facility’s office manager. “So we put a lot of emphasis on the way we display merchandise to help make the sale,” she said.

For the Cedar Cove shop, which is open to the public two days per week, drawing $10,000 in annual revenue, stuffed animals are the best-selling items and are displayed in kid-height bins, by price range, with the more expensive items placed higher for an adult’s easy view. “We chose bins that are visible, functional and aesthetically pleasing,” Fries said.

Running out of retail space is a common challenge and the Cherry Brook Zoo in New Brunswick, Canada, understands the problem, too. Open all year, the zoo is located in a 35-acre woodland that is home to many exotic and endangered species, including the Siberian tiger, snow leopard, golden lion tamarin and Goeldi marmoset. The 900-square-foot-gift shop, with annual revenue of $45,000, has doors on either end, which makes merchandise accessible, but at the same time limits the amount of workable display area. More...

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