Fall 2020
Big Cedar Lodge By Debbie Eisele

Abundant retail options exist at this Ozark Mountains resort

Located 40 miles south of Springfield, Missouri, Big Cedar Lodge was created by Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops. It is situated in a remote region that is surrounded by natural beauty and offers a “rustic luxury tucked into the rugged landscape of the Ozark Mountains.”

Big Cedar Lodge
All photos by Jeff Wilhoit

The resort overlooks the serene Table Rock Lake and affords visitors a breathtaking view.

This establishment was created as “a destination for families and friends to connect in the great outdoors.”

Big Cedar Lodge not only provides its guests with a plethora of amenities, such as restaurants, marinas, golf courses, a spa and more, it also offers ample retail experiences on its property. Gift Shop interviewed Shada Hillman, retail manager for Big Cedar Lodge to learn more about its offerings and how the pandemic has impacted operations for its stores.

Big Cedar Lodge
Photo by Jeff Wilhoit

GS: What are your product offerings?

SH: We specialize in handmade holiday décor and gifts. We have Christmas ornaments, stockings and pillows, children’s pillows and toys and adorable Easter items — even knit dresses.

Seasonal display at Big Cedar Lodge retail
Tabletop and food offer a focal point in the Holiday displays that Big Cedar Lodge arranges in early October to capture increased foot traffic from local and state craft festivals in the area.

GS: Tell us what makes shopping at Big Cedar Lodge so unique and experiential to the guests?

SH: We do our best to find the finest, most unique products. Our boutique clothing offers styles and fabrics that you won’t find in the department stores. Our private label foods allow you to bring home the tastes of Big Cedar and our selection of home décor and lamps are unique and provide those special accents for your home that make it special!

Big Cedar Lodge's retail stores offer branded merchandise
The Shoppe carries men’s and women’s fashion, home furnishings and its logo products are it’s best-sellers.

GS: Do you have any local customers in addition to the resort clientele?

SH: Our local ladies love to make a day at Big Cedar having lunch, enjoying the majestic views and shopping in our unique stores. Each shop has products that are exclusive to that one shop, which makes it the perfect place to spend the whole afternoon shopping. Many ladies also add shopping to their spa day in our Big Cedar Spa for a truly special day of pampering.

Big Cedar Lodge retail jewelry display

GS: Do you offer online shopping as well?

SH: We do offer some of our most popular items in our online store. We are also expanding our wedding registry. And of course if you didn’t pick up that special item while you were staying on property and can’t find it online, you can give us a call and one of our gift shop associates will find that item and have it sent to you.

GS: Describe your product mix in each store.

SH: Each store carries logo product that is specific to that location as well as a good mix of product that enhances the guest experience based on location. For example, our retail store located at Top of the Rock, Arnie’s General Store, will carry product that ties into our museum of Native American Heritage and modern industrial decor that we use throughout Top of the Rock.

Big Cedar Lodge retail offers gourmet food

The Shoppe carries men’s and women’s fashion, home furnishings that are very similar to what our guests will see in their rooms, and merchandise that reflects our mission for environmental conservation. The marinas offer surf inspired activewear.

The resort also has four pro shops — located at each golf course — that offer golf accessories, golf attire and logo merchandise specific to each course. Retail options are also available at our Shooting Academy.

Seasonal display at Big Cedar Lodge retail

GS: Do you offer signature or custom products in your stores?

SH: We have a wide variety of logo products: apparel, mugs, barware, picture frames, bath products, wines and foods. We have Christmas ornaments to remember your stay, including a custom glass ornament from Old World Christmas designed exclusively for Big Cedar Lodge. We also sell prints on canvas, otherwise known as Giclee, of award winning paintings from various artists that have come to Big Cedar to paint our beautiful grounds.

GS: Do you face any challenges sourcing products for multiple stores? If so how do you handle those challenges?

SH: The biggest challenge is that there is always something new and unique that I just want all of it. I think another challenge to keep in mind is that when sourcing products, you have to be very aware of what it is you’re sourcing and keeping the message consistent with Big Cedar’s values. With multiple retail outlets, we are always looking to add new items to make shopping exciting but also stay true to our products that continue to be our best-sellers.

Big Cedar Lodge retail store display

GS: What are you top-sellers and vendors you use to source those products?

SH: Our logo products are always a best seller because everyone wants to show that they have been to Big Cedar Lodge. We have ladies that travel several hours to shop our boutique for fine jewelry by Julie Vos, modern boho fashion items by Ivy Jane, our large selection of Ann Cole swimwear and the softest bamboo sweaters from Barefoot Dreams. The men enjoy our large selection of Johnny O sportswear, Peter Millar and Travis Matthews golf.

GS: Tell us a little about how you generate ideas for merchandise displays and how frequently you rotate displays.

SH: Our major merchandise displays are redone every quarter based on season. We receive new merchandise on a weekly basis and re-merchandise our tables to show off new items while still ensuring that we are making a cohesive statement visually.

Seasonal display at Big Cedar Lodge retail
Displays are rotated seasonally and highlight new items in a cohesive visual statement.

GS: Do you offer displays for niche products in any specific seasonal categories such as holidays?

SH: We set our Holiday displays in early October to allow us to capture the additional traffic from all of the local and state craft festivals.

GS: Describe how the pandemic has impacted retail sales at the resort and how you have adjusted the shopping experience during COVID-19?

SH: We were very fortunate to have our retail manager work in our main gift shop during the shut-down phase of the pandemic. By doing so we were able to act as a personal shopper for our guests and still meet their needs as well as fulfill all online orders placed.

GS: What are your top three tips to others in the industry?

SH: Have a plan. We utilize planograms when planning for our major merchandising changes. This allows for us to know what merchandise we need from our vendors as well as quantities for such items. We then create backup planograms as product sells down. By doing this we can also estimate the total dollars each table will generate for us.

Communicate. With multiple outlets on property it’s important for us to know the needs for each outlet based on their specific customer so that we can meet them. This level of communication allows for us to stay ahead of demand and ensures that our customer never leaves a shop disappointed.

Try new things. I believe in sticking with products that are tried and true but to also add in new lines from vendors and give them a chance.


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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