People will pick up gifts at unlikely moments and sometimes in unlikely places if the merchandise strikes a chord. Their original shopping intent might have centered on something entirely different, yet then they find themselves picking a mug off a store endcap emblazoned with an absolutely perfect expression for their spouse. It is worthwhile to cater to people’s passing whims and fancies as the proprietors of the following five stores that were interviewed for this article well know.

A gift display at Bromide Mountain Co. Private labeled products top the list of best-selling gift items at the store.

Displays are kept simple and clean at Moon Dust Farms, a home goods store in Mesa, Ariz. “In terms of home décor and signs, we want you to see it exactly as it would appear in your home,” said Dawn Langseth who owns the business with her husband Jeff. Shoppers are not above making random purchases. The 3,100 square-foot store carries a line of hand-stamped key chains that are always a best-seller and a great add on at the point of purchase. “The key chains are hilarious and people will stand and read every one,” Langseth said. Moon Dust Farms has also become a neighborhood go-to for kids’ gifts. “Our entire kids’ line is always a top seller. We carry everything from tethers, kids’ décor, to our boutique kids clothing line.”

Artfully arranged merchandise at Moon Dust Farms. The owners believe in changing up displays frequently.

Decorative signs remain a popular item at Moon Dust Farms. In fact, a display of signs from the Queen B Home line is the first thing customers see when they walk in the door. It is the biggest focal wall in the store and the signage featured there represents several different price points. “Emily Bates, the owner of Queen B Home, has merchandised this wall to feel like you would want your home to feel. She keeps it fresh and inviting all the time,” said Langseth. She and her husband attributed the continuing popularity of signs at Moon Dust Farms to their habit of offering quality handmade options not seen in other shops. “We allow plenty of floor space for customers to stop and read/look at each item when space is what’s needed.” Other shoppers can still pass easily through the aisle. The couple also believes in changing things up frequently. “We have several repeat customers and we don’t ever want them to feel as if they are seeing the same product with the same displays. It’s hard work but worth it on the back end.”

Dawn Langseth, owner, Moon Dust Farms in Mesa, Ariz. Displays are kept clean and simple at the store.

Large quantity displays are a common sight at Bromide Mountain Co., a gift store in Sulphur, Okla. Owners John and Miranda Dickerson might group 12 or more of the same design or items pertaining to the same theme. “Depending on the season, we might do a camping theme with large quantities of outdoorsy signs and gifts grouped together that are mountain or outdoor related,” said Miranda Dickerson, who creates all the visual displays for the business. A sample sign might read “The mountains are calling and I must go” – the signage, along with a large quantity of accompanying gift items make a big statement.

Private labeled products top the list of best-selling gift items inside the approximately 1,500-square-foot store. That list includes coffee mugs featuring Bromide Mountain Co.’s logo, T-shirts that are specific to the area and signs that name-drop the city or state. Gift books are another frequent purchase, at least at the moment. Signs maintain their popularity at Bromide Mountain Co. The store carries a variety and according to Miranda, a sign’s price point can make or break a sale. Signs that sell for $19 or less tend to fly out the door.

Owners Miranda and John Dickinson of Bromide Mountain Co., a gift store in Sulphur, Okla. The owners make big statements with complementary merchandise in their displays.

The Shops at Hartville Kitchen, formerly known as Hartville Collectibles, are part of a family-owned and operated group of businesses in Hartville, Ohio that originated with Hartville Hardware. The latter was founded in 1947 while Hartville Collectibles, now The Shops at Hartville Kitchen has been a growing enterprise since 1972. The Shops footprint encompasses 20,000-square-feet and all manner of merchandise is represented – clothing, jewelry, purses, drinkware, candles, spa care items, toys, candy and more. Currently, customers are gravitating towards more practical items, according to Buyer Marjorie Hershberger. “Our best-selling gifts are functional items. Things that you simply set around the house are no longer popular.” Decorative signs continue to sell quite well at The Shops at Hartville Kitchen. Hershberger is always on the hunt for fresh and new signs to have on offer. “We make all of our signs cohesive with not too much wording. Our motto is keep it short and sweet!”

Vendor Amy Lee of Vintage Farm Finds with her merchandise. Due to the store’s display strategy, shoppers can see how merchandise will look in their homes.

Gift merchandise wasn’t a focus when Anderson Pharmacy first opened in 1971 in Ord, Nebraska. However, when Mike and Sue Blaha purchased the business in 1998, they quickly expanded it to include photo processing plus unique gift offerings. Today, Anderson Pharmacy includes a Hallmark Gold Crown store on the premises. Not surprisingly, ornaments are a best-seller during the holiday season in the Hallmark division, which lies on one side of the establishment. But gift selections are not relegated solely to that area. There are gift displays at the front of Anderson’s Pharmacy as well as in the dedicated Hallmark section. Meanwhile, decorative signs inhabit several
spots. “Some are up high on a ledge. Some are on a display wall up front,” said Sue Blaha. Despite their visibility, signs are not runaway best-sellers, according to Sue. “It takes the right person to want them. As a retailer, you try to pick what you think people are going to like and you don’t always succeed.”

Vendor Kalee Wilson of Lace, Grace and Peonies with her merchandise. The store offers plenty of floor space for shoppers to browse.

Owner Stephen Monkarsh readily admitted there is absolutely nothing shoppers actually need inside Just Fabulous, his store in Palm Springs, California. “Everything is a want. It’s all about celebrating life,” he said. Shoppers snatch up tea towels, tote bags, napkins, magnets and coasters adorned with funny and frequently curse-word laden sayings. “My biggest clients are middle-aged women from the middle of the country who never find this stuff where they live. It just flies out the door.” Locale-specific T-shirts also do very well even though Just Fabulous is not a T-shirt store. The 2,500-square-foot shopping destination is a carefully curated collection of gifts, books, artwork, and greeting cards, not to mention well-stocked kids’ and pets’ sections. Palm Springs is largely a tourist-driven community, and a liberal one at that, so Monkarsh wisely carries items that appeal to his customers’ sense of humor. Attractive price points are a draw as are gifts that can easily be packed in a suitcase. “If you’re not feeling fabulous when you walk in my store, you will when you walk out,” he concluded.