Gift Shop Plus Spring 2024
Go with the Flow: Simply Southern collection comes with a hard-shelled companion By Carly McFadden

Wildlife-inspired jewelry and apparel are consistent sellers for zoo and aquarium gift shops, but Simply Southern’s Turtle Tracking collection takes it one step further.

Photo courtesy of Simply Southern.

The collection, launched in January, connects customers to nature in a unique way with T-shirts and bracelets that have a supplemental QR code assigning the customer their own turtle to follow throughout its oceanic journeys.

“You’ll discover your designated turtle’s name, age, weight and a brief biography, emphasizing the importance of turtle conservation,” said Jourdain Foster, sales and customer service manager at Simply Southern. “By clicking on any of the red dots in the tracking area, you can view the turtle’s whereabouts on any given day or time.”

Simply Southern’s Turtle Tracking collection includes more than 20 short- and long-sleeve tees across girls’ and women’s sizing, all featuring turtle imagery.

Some tees exude a playful energy with motifs such as cheerleaders, donuts or ice cream cones to appeal to the younger audience. Meanwhile, many of the women’s tees include beautiful illustrations, florals and even a tennis-playing turtle with the phrase, “Take it slow, but serve it fast.”

“We also offer designs with witty phrases like ‘Grow with the Flow,’ featuring images of coral reef, tailored for adults,” Foster said. “This diverse collection truly caters to everyone’s tastes.”


In addition to tees, the company designed a bracelet for the wildlife enthusiasts who may prefer a smaller giftable that can be worn with any outfit, reminding them of their connection to nature.

The Turtle Tracking Bracelet’s beads are inspired by sea glass. Photo courtesy of Simply Southern.

“T-shirts are our company’s focus, so creating an interactive tee with the tracking concept seemed natural, especially given our customers’ affection for turtle designs,” Foster said. “However, we recognize that some customers prefer a keepsake they can always carry with them. Introducing bracelets seemed like the perfect addition to meet this need for everyday use. Moreover, this makes the product suitable for both men and women, ensuring its appeal is unisex.”

The Turtle Tracking bracelets are designed to appeal to both men and women across a variety of ages. They are currently available in eight different colorways, with a ceramic turtle bead at the bracelet’s center: seven solid colors and one bright, multicolored bracelet.

“We believe the bracelet collection effectively targets multiple demographics, given its coastal-inspired design resembling sea glass,” Foster said. “Additionally, the concept and cause resonate across various age groups and demographics, making it a versatile option for all.”


Fancy Candy Tee. Photo courtesy of Simply Southern.

At the heart of a zoo or aquarium, its gift shop’s main purpose is twofold: to complete the visitor experience with a memento to take home and to further educate and inspire customers of the institution’s mission.

To help convey this mission, Simply Southern offers an elevated display for each bracelet, featuring a video that explains the product’s concept to customers while they shop.

“Placing these interactive, affordable pieces in the gift shop of an aquarium and zoo would be ideal, as it allows your customers to bring a piece of the attraction home with them,” Foster said. “This ensures that they will always remember their visit, as they can continuously track and follow their own sea turtle, serving as a delightful reminder of the memorable experience they had The narrative accompanying each sea turtle also educates your guests, hopefully fostering their interest and investment in the conservation efforts undertaken by their local zoo and aquarium to ensure the safety of animals.”

Donut Wisp Tee. Photo courtesy of Simply Southern.

Wildlife conservation has been an important mission to Simply Southern for years. The company partners with conservation groups and encourages their personnel to volunteer for the cause.

“We consistently pursue new partnerships with conservation groups to assist not only these magnificent creatures (sea turtles) but also numerous others. … We host an annual event with Bald Head Island Conservancy to raise awareness for the cause,” Foster said. “It’s heartening to witness families returning year after year to support both the event and the mission of conservation.”

Carly McFadden

Carly McFadden is the editorial director of Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and Lawn & Garden Retailer.

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