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t a b l e  o f  c o n t e n t s



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Stephanie Patterson Gilbert, owner, Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy, Carlisle, Pa., photographed holding up one of the 100-plus glass soda bottles from a cooler. In the background is a candy display.
By Sara Hodon


pparel and accessories may be the biggest sellers for most gift shops, but smaller items like candy and snacks can give a nice boost to an operation’s bottom line. While some operators recommend a wide selection of sweet and salty favorites, others stick to a limited inventory of tried-and-true items with a few trendy offerings that fit their particular niche with a proven record of sales.

Chereyl Spink, supervisor and merchandise coodinator at Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla, Calif., said that a “less is more” approach has worked for them when it comes to selling candy and snacks in their 1,200-square-foot gift shop. “We really only sell three main types of candy—individually-wrapped chocolates in the shapes of fish, Swedish Fish and Sour Octopus gummies,” she explained. “We also sell mints that come in decorative boxes, but people seem to buy them more for the boxes than the mints. It’s hard because there’s not a lot of food out there that’s marine life-themed. If we see something interesting, we’ll try it; if it sells well it’s something we’ll continue with.” Spink says their gift shop started selling freeze-dried ice cream, which seems to be gaining popularity. Doug Williams, owner of Kim’s Hallmark in Brunswick, Maine, also relies on a few items rather than a broad selection. “Stonewall Kitchen and Haven’s Candies are both Maine-based, and they are steady sellers,” he said. “Eighty to ninety percent of our customers are local residents and they like those brands. The balance of our other items are national brands, like Jelly Belly jellybeans.”

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