museums&MORE Summer 2017
Manager’s Corner with Lisa Shroyer of the Space Needle By Zeke Jennings

When it comes to Seattle-focused retail, Lisa Shroyer is an authority.

Lisa Shroyer

The Space Needle


When it comes to Seattle-focused retail, Lisa Shroyer is an authority. While in college, Shroyer got a taste of retail by working in the player, staff and family gift shop at the Kingdome, former home of the Mariners and Seahawks. By the time she was 23, Shroyer was in charge of retail operations at the stadium.

For the past decade, Shroyer has held a managerial position at another spot in the Emerald City you may have heard of — the Space Needle. As the vice president of retail for Seattle Campus Center, Shroyer also oversees the brick-and-mortar stores at Chihuly Garden and Glass, Experssly Northwest and Essentially Seattle. SpaceBase at the Space Needle, at 6,000 square feet, is the largest of her stores. Shroyer also is a member of the Las Vegas Souvenir and Resort Gift Show advisory board.

What responsibilities does your position entail?

LS: SpaceBase (housed at the ground level of the Space Needle) is my largest volume location. The Bookstore is a hybrid museum-boutique store inspired by the works of the great artist, Dale Chihuly. The other two stores focus on Seattle-centric gifts and souvenirs with approachable price points for the typical city tourist. As my position has evolved over the past couple of years, I am more focusing on new opportunities and strengthening our brand positioning. There are some potentially exciting things in the hopper! … Between all four stores, we carry close to 20,000 SKUs.

How large is the staff?

LS: I am fortunate to work for a great company and ownership group that allows me to have the staff needed to give our guests a great experience. That encompasses a director, three buyers, store managers at both large stores, a full-time visual merchandiser, a warehouse manager plus supervisors and leads throughout the department. All in all, we hover around 40 to 50 full-time, year-round employees and plus up another 25 to 30 during peak season.

Is there any sort of program employees go through to join the team?

LS: We have two robust onboarding programs. The first is our new hire orientation, which includes an in-depth review of our mission statement, policies and procedures. In addition, all new team members are toured behind the scenes of the operation. The next training is a full-day cohort on our mission, “Transforming Moments into Memories of a Lifetime.” We teach our team members what transforming a moment looks like and empower them to make it happen. At the store level, the managers have created highly detailed training plans that are used for all new hires. The plan involves working hand-in-hand with a manager, supervisor or associate for a minimum of a week as each area of the position is explored and learned. The easiest part is the point-of-sale system, but we can’t train passion. You either have it or you don’t.

Where do you find new products?

LS: Our senior buyer, Darbee North, and I sit down at the end of each year and map out the trade shows for the following year. Some we attend together and others are a one-person show. … Our main show every year is the Las Vegas Souvenir, but we also attend NY NOW, NY Toy Fair, Seattle Gift Show, Las Vegas Market, ASD and Atlanta Gift Show, to name a few.

What are your top-selling categories?

LS: At SpaceBase, our two leading categories are apparel and souvenirs. Guests want a piece of their trip to the No. 1 icon in the Pacific Northwest and it usually involves purchasing a statue, T-shirt, coffee mug or shot glass. We provide some great products — hand-carved Space Needle pepper mills, our own branded lines of wine and beer and hundreds of unique to us offerings. We still carry several products that have been here since the Space Needle opened in 1962 and we are proud to work with those same vendors.

Is there anything about the Space Needle that surprises people?

LS: It is privately owned. Most people think the city of Seattle owns and/or runs the Space Needle. It was privately built and financed by the Pentagram Corporation, which consisted of Bagley Wright, contractor Howard S. Wright, architect John Graham, Ned Skinner, and Norton Clapp. In 1977 Bagley, Skinner and Clapp sold their interest to Howard Wright whose family now controls it under the name of Space Needle, LLC.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

LS: I am a true northwest native — born and raised in the Seattle area. I have been married to my incredible husband, Chris, and we have a 14-year-old son, Sam, who starts high school next year! … I am a big traveler and we vacation several times every year. Some of my favorite spots are Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. I love warm weather and beaches. My absolute favorite vacation is to cruise the Caribbean. I think I have been on 16 or so cruises. When not working or vacationing, I can be found in my garden, at a concert (I’ve stopped counting at 450 concerts) or out on my boat. I was lucky enough to go see Temple of The Dog this year in both L.A. and Seattle. I have found a passion for crabbing. My co-worker introduced me to it several years ago and now I am out crabbing every weekend during season. Oh, and I’m a huge Seahawks fan!

Zeke Jennings

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