museums&MORE Fall 2016
Cedar Tree Gift Shop is the busiest store in massive Glacier National Park By Zeke Jennings

Jennifer Martin, who oversees 14 retail operations, described Cedar Tree Gift Shop at Glacier National Park as being “a pretty special store.” Indeed, it is.

Jennifer Martin, who oversees 14 retail operations, described Cedar Tree Gift Shop at Glacier National Park as being “a pretty special store.” Indeed, it is. How many stores have cedar trees growing up through the floor and extending through the ceiling?

Instead of removing the old cedars when the structure was built, they were left in place — at least some of them, anyway — and the building was constructed with them intact. While the live trees make for some interesting challenges in maintaining the building, they are a sight to behold. “It is great for guests, but a little challenging for our maintenance crew as the years go by,” said Martin, who is retail operations director for Glacier Park Inc.

Cedar Tree Gift Shop is located in Apgar Village on the southwest edge of Lake McDonald, the largest of the 762 lakes within Glacier National Park, which encompasses 1,583 square miles (or more than one million acres) of northern Montana. Glacier is the fifth-largest national park in the continuous 48 states and among the 10 most-visited.

Glacier National Park extends to the U.S.-Canadian border, where it becomes Waterton Lakes National Park. Glacier Park Inc. also oversees lodging and retail operations there.

At 4,000 square feet, Cedar Tree is the largest gift shop in Glacier National. It carries approximately 3,000 items. It was previously privately owned before being acquired by Glacier Park Inc. “several years ago,” Martin said.

Martin participated in a Q&A with Museums & More to tell us a little more about Cedar Tree Gift Shop, which is open from May until October.

How many employees do you typically have on staff?

JM: About 250 employees across retail (14 stores).

Where you look for new products?

cedar-tree-2JM: I am always shopping for product; I take pictures of anything I like. I see something beautiful and think of ways to incorporate it into a mug or shirt design. I attend shows and I always shop other stores when traveling for work or vacation.

With the store being seasonal, does that affect employee turnover?

JM: Yes, we hire seasonally. We give students from different countries an opportunity to come work. We always try and hire locally, and we get a lot of retired folks who are interested in seeing different national parks. It is sad to see the staff go, but always so exciting to see the new staff and meet people from all over the world.

What are some of your bestsellers?

JM: T-shirts, mugs and magnets are a huge seller. We also have a coffee bar with ice cream, which we sell to guests and they can sit by the lake and enjoy their treat. One interesting thing we sell is thousands of Christmas ornaments out of this one location in the middle of summer!

Do you carry anything unusual that typically gets a reaction from customers?

JM: We carry PooPoo Paper, which is actually paper using recycled animal waste.

Where do you look for display and merchandising inspiration?

JM: I love looking at the way vendors display at shows. They know their product the best and want you to see it in the best way possible.

Do you have any golden rules or pet peeves?

JM: My pet peeve is when the store is messy. It is all about the little things and the housekeeping to make it the best place that our guest stops on their trip.

What is the best retail advice you’ve received or could offer someone else?

JM: Always be evolving. The second you stop evolving, you will be passed by your competition.

Glacier is such an iconic national park. What has it been like to work there?

JM: I love it. I am from Montana, and Glacier has always been one of my favorite places. It is awesome to hear people say how amazing it is and to sit back and realize it is the place that we all call home.

Zeke Jennings

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