museums&MORE Fall 2020
Bald Head Island Conservancy Gift Shop – Turtle Central By Debbie Eisele

All purchases at this retail location supports the nonprofit organization's mission

With so many retailers facing similar challenges right now, we encourage you to “Share Your Story” so that retailers in the industry can connect with one another and share experiences and tips with one another.

The Bald Head Island Conservancy (BHI) Gift Shop – Turtle Central is located on a a barrier island and supports the BHI’s mission of learning, discovering, conserving and preserving natural environments. Pam Smith, director of retailer operations, shared that this store is a nonprofit gift shop. “We especially focus on our sea turtle protection plan as well as science education and conservation activities. The gift shop has reopened and customers have been positive about the store changes and new policies,” she said.

Bald Head Island Conservancy Gift Shop - Turtle Central

During these challenging times, BHI Conservancy Gift Shop – Turtle Central has seen an increase in online sales and even shared some of its successes and tips.

Since the pandemic closures and re-openings, how have you adjusted your business model?

Pam Smith (PS): We focused on our online shop as well as our social media. We did several Facebook Live events as well as initiated our Porch Pick Ups shopping and FaceTime shopping.

What special services did you implement during the pandemic that you plan to continue moving forward?

PS: We will continue with enhancing our online store and will still offer Porch Pick Ups and FaceTime shopping when time permits.

What social media platforms do you use (please include account names)? 

PS: Facebook and Instagram, @turtlecentralbhic, are our primary social media platforms.

Please describe how are you communicating with your customers about any new services, policies, procedures or offering.

PS: We communicate through our website and social media outlets, primarily Facebook and Instagram. We try to also keep our hours and policies updated with Google as well.

What have been the positives of re-opening your store?

PS: Seeing our customers again! Moving more inventory and just the day to day operations … (it’s) nice to be back in that routine!

Are you offering any charitable giving products for shoppers to help pandemic relief funds, first responders, medical personnel, the local community or other nonprofits?

PS: Our store is a nonprofit and we try to carry a wide variety of fair trade, local artists and hand-crafted items as much as possible. We recently started carrying a local snack line that gives back to the N.C. food bank. We also carry several face mask lines that give back to local first responders as well.

What is the most requested item in your inventory right now? 

PS: Face masks!!!

What helpful tips would you like to share with other retailers during these unprecedented times?

PS: Keep a positive attitude! That will reflect back to your customers. Play fun music, make the store a bright exciting place that people want to be a part of. Try to remain calm and unruffled when confronted with your COVID-19 restrictions. Keep Staff morale high – Remember you are looking out for the safety of your staff also and try to listen to their needs and concerns . They are stressed and full of anxiety so less focus on the little things but bigger picture items prevail! Try to provide a coffee or a fun time away from work to keep a focus on them and how well they are handling this situation. Communication is key and listening also! Learn to be less rigid over procedures and how things used to run, that time is out the window! Be flexible and willing to adapt to change.

Debbie Eisele

Debbie Eisele is the former managing editor for Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and a variety of special issue publications, including: The Guide, Holiday Shop, Celebrations & Occasions and Waterfront Living.

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