By Sara Karnish
Whether it’s a basic name-dropped T-shirt or the latest in stylish resort wear, apparel is one of the most profitable retail categories for most resort stores. Trends often change from season to season, and resort store retailers keep a close eye on new styles so they can stock their shelves accordingly.
“Tie-dye was huge this year,” said Kris Granahan, retail manager of Waterfront Gift Shop at The Abbey Resort and Spa in Fontana, Wis. “[Especially] T-shirts, sweatshirts, kids’ tees and sweats, but especially looks for women. Our biggest sellers in general were tees, sweatshirts, hoodies, and jackets. Tie-dye was big in tees and cropped hoodies.” Swimsuits were also strong sellers: “People kind of forget we have two pools and a beach right around the corner, so they don’t bring swimsuits.” Looking ahead, Granahan said, “Meetings are coming back little by little. With the meetings, we put more of an emphasis on corporate-looking merchandise. dress is slowly coming back as people return to the office. ”
Colder weather was on the minds of guests at Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa in Lake Placid, N.Y. Spa Manager Victoria Dow said their most popular trend was “grey quarter-zip Sherpa Fleece.” For 2022, Dow expects a strong demand for locally sourced, one-of-a-kind items.
Valerie O’Donnell, retail manager/buyer for the Ocean House in Watch Hill, R.I., manages all of the property’s retail spaces, including The Ocean House Boutique, the Spa, Below Deck, a seasonal outlet, and gift card sales. O’Donnell said, “Last season, swimwear and cover-ups in bright, cheerful patterns were very popular. Also, light weight printed flowing summer dresses were a big hit. People were excited to be out again and enjoying the beach and ocean.” Apparel that is unique to a location and can’t be found anywhere else is always popular. O’Donnell expects items tailored to a location will be a trend in 2022. She said, “People love purchasing items that remind them of their travel and experiences. For example, Ocean House has three new scarves launching soon. These scarves are in production, and we are excited for their arrival in the coming weeks. They are specific to the Ocean House and the detailing is amazing.” The Ocean House, built right after the Civil War, is perched high on the bluffs overlooking a quaint seaside village. Its Old-World charm and rich history adds to the guest experience.
Resort guests typically have their choice of retail locations on-site, so they rarely need to leave the property to pick up last-minute, lost, or forgotten items. The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme, Mich., gives guests plenty of shopping options. The resort is home to the Tower Gallery of Shops, which includes retailers Whirligigs Candy and More, Mud Pie, Adventure North Outfitters, Tumbleweeds toy store, Ashleigh’s (jewelry, handbags, and accessories), Pro Shop, Barefoot Store, and 231 The Store, offering a selection of Michigan-based products. The Resort’s Bear Logo Shop, which carries an assortment of name-dropped Grand Traverse merchandise, is also one of the shops in the Tower Gallery. Jennifer Kotarski, retail manager, oversees the on-site retail operation. At the 1,100 square foot Bear Logo shop, she said, “Tie-dye has continued to be extremely popular. We are noticing—the brighter, the better. Hoodies are also popular year-round. In the winter, people love Sherpa or fuzzy clothing.” Kotarski expects the tie-dye style trend to continue into 2022: “[Tie-dye] continues to be popular for the spring and summer. It’s popular for all ages and in both apparel and accessories,” she explains.
In accessories, sunglasses are a top seller. “Sunglasses are huge,” Granahan said. “Typically, customers are buying them because they lost a pair in the lake, or they were broken, and the guest doesn’t want to spend a huge amount on a new pair. We also sell a wide range of flip flops, from glitzy to everyday styles. Snoozy [brand] socks are also big, and right now we’re selling a lot of winter hats, scarves, and gloves.” Kotarski said headgear is big in their accessories category: “Baseball hats have been extremely popular in the last year. We even sold out at times. We expanded our inventory in the Bear Logo Shop to include new designs and logos. Anything that is Michigan themed is popular. Our logo campfire mugs are also popular all year long.”
Due to the resort’s proximity to the water, Dow said, “Scarves and jewelry are big sellers. The scarves and wraps are great for those cool summer breezes along the ocean as we are on the water and the evening can get cool and these scarves are perfect for little throw you might need on evenings like these.”
Guests want to bring home a reminder of their visit, and both apparel and accessories have the added benefit of practicality. “Logo apparel, accessories and destination themed products are popular because they are a great keepsake and memory piece,” Kotarski said. “People will remember their trip to Traverse City and Grand Traverse Resort and Spa every time they wear a shirt or hoodie and drink from a mug. Lots of apparel doesn’t go out of style either so you can get use out of it for a long time.” The boost in apparel and accessories sales is also encouraging for many retailers as another sign of life slowly returning to a new normal. “To accessorize for your daytime or nighttime events makes people feel good. Sometimes it’s just that necklace or earrings that makes you feel beautiful,” O’Donnell said. “People have been working from home—not being able to meet or go to your favorite restaurant so under dressing was the norm. Now everyone wants to get out there and dress again. It’s wonderful to see.”
Merchandising is as essential for resort stores as it is other retailers. Dow’s biggest display tip is: “Keep it fresh! Change displays and mannequins often; feature new items at the end of the rack. Have a schedule to switch items up.” She added, “Our Gift Shop is not only for guests of the Inn. We have many local and transient guests who come shop with us. Specializing in locally made items, our Gift Shop is one of a kind!” O’Donnell said, “Our Boutique is in a defined, high-profile location so displays are important. Using height and proportion and something fun to catch the guests’ eye and make it inviting to come into the store. Grouping three items together helps create interest and lets guests use their imagination as to how they can accessorize to their style or personal needs. We refresh our store regularly- even if it’s just moving merchandise around. Sometimes that little change makes a big impact and now sells where it wasn’t moving beforehand.”
Granahan uses a bench to display items outside the store and catch guests’ attention. “We’ll rotate a display every two to three weeks. People buy the merchandise right off of it. I suggest keeping it eye-catching. We’ll use Abbey logoed items or fun things people may not see [inside]. We’ll typically stay color-coordinated—we like pulling things together that way. And keep things neat and clean.” Kotarski’s best tip is to keep displays organized, and full but not overcrowded. “Make sure all styles are visible. If you have certain items on display, make sure they are easy to find in the store and all sizes are represented. Also keep things folded neatly and tidy.”
Whether dressing up for a night out or dressing down to relax, resort gift stores carry a range of apparel and accessories to help guests put together the perfect outfit for any occasion.
Top-Selling Gifts at Resort Stores
Besides apparel and accessories, resort gift stores carry an assortment of gifts for guests to buy for themselves, family, or friends. It’s another way for resort guests to capture a treasured vacation and bring some of it home with them.
Valerie O’Donnell, retail manager/buyer for the Ocean House in Watch Hill, R.I., said, “Our logoed items are our top selling gifts. It’s not just our guests who stay at the Ocean House—it’s our neighbors who shop and visit with us on a regular basis all year round. Guests bringing home that special something with the Ocean House on it reminds them of the memories they created while staying with us. And our neighbors who brought friends and family for the day like to take a little something home that reminds them of their day out with good friends and family.”
Kris Granahan, retail manager of Waterfront Gift Shop at The Abbey Resort and Spa in Fontana, Wis., said, “Because of our location, guests want something that reminds them of the water. Nautical is a huge seller for us—decorative sailboats, signs with area coordinates, coasters. Metal garden statuary is also a huge seller for us.”
At Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme, Mich, Retail Manager Jennifer Kotarski said their best-selling gifts are “our sweatshirt blankets and Resort logoed hoodies.”
Victoria Dow, spa manager, Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid, N.Y., said locally sourced items, including gifts, are strong sellers at Mirror Lake Inn. Among their most popular products—”Pure Placid body products. Pure Placid is a local Lake Placid company that specializes in lotions, candles, oils, and scrubs using water from Lake Placid in their products. They have formulated a scent named Redwood & Lavender exclusively for the Mirror Lake Inn that reminds you of your experience here.”