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October 2014

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t might be located in Gurnee, Ill., but KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort takes its guests to the warmth of Key West, Fla., as soon as they walk through the doors. The beach and tropical-themed resort draws its guests from the Chicago area as well as Milwaukee, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa and other Midwestern states especially during peak times such as the holiday season. Along with the recreational activities, guests also enjoy the four retail stores that add to their tropical experience.

KeyLime Cove’s April Schenck, director of retail, and Retail Supervisor Jennifer Visocnik. “We enjoy it so much when our guests or even our vendors tell us they love the displays and the creativity behind them. We truly love working in the souvenir industry because we are given so much leeway for creativity. It’s definitely an environment in which our artistic abilities can flourish,” Visocnik said.

“Island Hoppers Outfitters is our largest souvenir shop that carries T-shirts, shot glasses, mugs, photo frames, jewelry, plush toys, totes, sweatshirts, home decor and other tropical souvenirs,” said April Schenck, director of Retail and Entertainment for the past four years. “In addition, we have LuLu’s Swim Shoppe which sells swimwear items for the entire family plus cover-ups, flip flops, swim caps, water shoes and goggles which we also market to our local customers who might need this merchandise to go away in the winter and who cannot find them in regular retail stores.”

The resort also operates Pinkis Pet Palace where guests are able to select their plush pet, which they stuff and dress, and lastly, Mangrove Jack’s Trading Post which is a convenience-type store that offers toiletry items and snacks.

“We have pretty much anything our guests need for their stay. We want the resort to meet all their needs,” Schenck noted.

Mangrove Jack’s Trading Post is a convenience-type store that offers toiletry items and snacks, such as the merchandise pictured, at KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort in Gurnee, Ill.

While KeyLime Cove welcomes guests all year, it does have three peak seasons that follow the typical school calendar and include summer vacation, the winter holiday season and spring break.

“After the peak times, especially in the fall, I concentrate on buying merchandise for our stores,” Schenck said. “I travel to different shows and I love to see what is new and exciting out there.”

Although Schenck is always looking for new items, she recognizes her consistent best sellers which include Clay Critter magnets, mood jewelry, solar powered keychains, seashells, home décor items that have to do with a beach or tiki theme, keychains and plush.

The imaginatively set up display window at KeyLime Cove’s LuLu’s Swim Shoppe. The store sells swimwear items for the entire family plus many other beach apparel staples.

“What I love about buying for our shops is that we don’t have a lot of local competition for the beach/Key West themed items that we carry,” she explained. “As springtime approaches, we see our home décor sales heat up as local guests and customers are anxious to bring warm-weather merchandise to their own pool areas and patios. Also, we have many customers who have lake houses, and they like to add a tropical flair to them as well, so they visit our stores.”

As Retail Supervisor at KeyLime Cove for the last three years, Jennifer Visocnik works with Schenck to bring in new merchandise to keep the stores looking fresh and appealing.

“Each year, we see something new take off and this year it was the YOLO (You Only Live Once) T-shirts and shot glasses,” noted Visocnik. “While this line has been popular with all age groups, it was the teens and early 20s demographic that really got excited about it.”

Apparel displays at KeyLime Cove’s Island Hoppers Outfitters. Along with recreational activities, guests can also enjoy four retail stores of which Island Hoppers is the largest.

Schenck and Visocnik enjoy observing the buying patterns of guests of different age groups, and these observations make them smarter and more creative buyers when bringing in merchandise.

“It’s funny how the teens are always looking at the latest trend in souvenir apparel. Their parents tend to lean more towards the traditional colors in body styles in apparel and the bargains in the artwork and novelty items too,” Schenck said. “The trends of robots and moustaches were really big for the youngest guests, but I can see them slowing down now and fading away.”

With four stores to oversee, Schenck and Visocnik work together to come up with creative displays to catch the attention of guests.

A display of island-themed signs at KeyLime Cove’s Island Hoppers Outfitters. The shop also sells T-shirts, shot glasses, mugs, photo frames, jewelry, plush, totes, sweatshirts and other tropical souvenirs.

“We brainstorm together or try different products and fixtures until we get a desired outcome,” explained Visocnik. “It’s fascinating how we can walk by the same display for a week and suddenly come up with an idea to change it in a way we had not thought of before.”

The two women do update displays often, especially during the resort’s three busy seasons.

In 2012, the pirate theme in the stores was popular with customers and guests, and Schenck and Visocnik continue to use pirates as a main focal point, especially in Island Hoppers.

“We have pretty much anything our guests need for their stay. We want the resort to meet all their needs,” said April Schenck, KeyLime Cove’s director of retail, who is pictured here with Retail Supervisor Jennifer Visocnik.

“We are always tweaking the merchandise in the display area, adding something here or there so our customers see what we have in the stores. It is important to keep the stores neat, the aisles clear and uncluttered so the guests find the stores inviting and welcoming.”

In 2013, the retail duo say they will continue to create more displays and remerchandise the stores depending upon the season and what Schenck finds at the April trade shows.

“We enjoy it so much when our guests or even our vendors tell us they love the displays and the creativity behind them,” said Visocnik. “We truly love working in the souvenir industry because we are given so much leeway for creativity. It’s definitely an environment in which our artistic abilities can flourish.”






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