When Mother’s Day rolls around, retailer Sara Villari stocks up on scented candles, soaps and other pamper items for Occasionette, her boutique with locations in Collingswood, N.J., and South Philadelphia., Pa. “We completely remerchandise the shops for Mother’s Day to put those gifts out front and center,” said Villari. “Then we follow up by posting on social media and letting our email list know all the different items we have.”
Villari takes the same approach for Father’s Day, when the best-selling gifts highlight dad’s gourmet side. “We sell a lot of cookbooks and cocktail gear for Father’s Day,” said the retailer. For both occasions, she added: “We sell a lot of cards. Cards will always be a big part of what we do.”
Coffee mugs are tops for both Mother’s and Father’s Day at Open House Store in Philadelphia. “For Mother’s Day, we also do really well with succulent plants,” noted Manager Sonia Skooglund. The store’s owners scour trade shows and survey trusted vendors to determine which gifts are most appealing, she added. “We really cater to a lot of different people. You’re able to come in here and find things for just about anyone.”

Left to right, Co-Owners Tiffica Benza, Jennifer Provost, and Ashley Peel, of Philadelphia Independents, Philadelphia, Pa. “Our staff is always on hand for a specialized shopping experience,” Peel said.

Mother’s Day “is just huge for us,” affirmed Dallas Miller, retail manager and buyer at Hudson Drug Store in Paxton, Ill. The sprawling emporium dedicates about 75 percent of its sales floor to retail, and the spring occasions are always busy. Picture frames, blankets, candles, vases, apparel and mugs that say “Best Mom Ever” are among the top sellers. “Basically, things where Mom might look and say, ‘I’d like it, but I could use that money somewhere else,’” Miller said. “The kids will come in and say, ‘I know Mom’s been looking at these candles or that vase.’”
For Father’s Day, anything with a sports or beer theme sells well. Miller maximizes revenue for both holidays through a combination of social media outreach and old-fashioned customer service. “We do pretty big displays for all of those occasions, and then we’ll do a live tour of the store on Facebook,” the buyer explained. “A lot of people come in because they know we have a great selection. They’ll say, ‘I have no idea what to get my wife,’ so we help them pick something out.”
Philly-themed gifts are a hit for Philadelphia Independents, a boutique featuring handcrafts from that city’s local makers. “The most popular gifts for dads on Father’s Day are Philly T-shirts, pint glasses, and bottle openers,” said Co-Owner Ashley Peel. For Mother’s Day, the store’s best-sellers are tea towels, candles, and soaps. “Our staff is always on hand for a
specialized shopping experience,” Peel added.
Boutiques with more unique or idiosyncratic selections have their own particular twists on the spring occasions. Toko Baru, a Cincinnati shop with a spiritual bent, sells a variety of crystals for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. “They’re more specific to the person than to the occasion,” explained Manager Aygul Page. Sage and tarot cards are also popular if the recipient is metaphysically inclined, Page noted. 
For anyone else, the 550-square- foot Toko Baru has a line of novelty socks with whimsical slogans and graphics. “Grumpy Old Men,” “Master Griller” and “I left the seat up for you” are naturals for Father’s Day, while “Proud Plant Mom” and “Plants Get Me” sell well to moms who garden. “We also have an array of mugs that are always good for gifts,” Page said.

A view of displays at Philadelphia Independents in Philadelphia, Pa., Philadelphia-themed gifts are popular for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day at the store.

Also in Cincinnati, Doug Kennedy has sold fountain pens, leather goods and other business-oriented gifts since 1993 at his 1,200-square-foot store, Appointments. But while there is still a market for high-end writing implements and desk accessories, technology has eaten away at the business. “Things have changed dramatically since I went into business 43 years ago,” Kennedy said. 
One thing that hasn’t changed, observed Kennedy, is the tendency to spend much more for Mother’s Day than for Father’s Day. Appointments’ merchandise appeals more to men, Kennedy said, and he sells more pens — still his number one item — as well as briefcases on the latter holiday. “Especially for men, I’ll often recommend a travel valet,” said Kennedy of another popular gift. The foldable organizers, which start at just $14, organize wallet, keys, change and other essentials that might otherwise get lost on a hotel nighttable.



SGN Asked: What merchandise do you have that
would appeal as Nurse’s Day gifts?

Nurse’s Day is historically less observed than the other spring occasions. But the pandemic has spotlighted the vital role of medical workers — and retailers expect a surge in gift-buying this spring. “We’ll stock more appreciation gifts, like lotions, candles, soaps and candies for Nurse’s Day this year,” said Sara Villari, owner and Creative Director at Occasionette, which has stores in Collingswood, N.J., and South Philadelphia, Pa.

Happy nurse talking to senior patients in private clinic. Senior couple consulting health and medical report with doctor at home. Old man and elderly woman visiting the nurse with clipboard.

A nurse-themed pencil set is a perennial best-seller for Nurse’s Day at Open House Store in Philadelphia, Pa. “We’ve also got a selection of wine and shot glasses for nurses,” said Manager Sonya Skooglund.
Mugs, wine glasses and other drinkware with the slogan “Best Nurse Ever” are favorites at Hudson Drug Store in Paxton, Ill., along with magnetic sticky notes for the refrigerator, according to Retail Manager and Buyer Dallas Miller.
At Appointments, a stationery store in Cincinnati, Owner Doug Kennedy used to sell a lot of high-end fountain pens for nurses “before pharmaceuticals got into the pen business,” as he puts it. Free drug-branded pens probably did less to cut into business than the demise of paper charting in favor of digital medical records, Kennedy acknowledged. For today’s nurses, he might recommend business card holders: “They still sell well.”