Peer Perspective: Lisa Banks, Cincinnati Zoo
Lisa Banks | Retail Operations Manager, Cincinnati Zoo
How many gift shops are there within the Zoo and Botanical Garden? 4
How many do each employ? 40-50 seasonally; all one team that floats to different locations
What are some of your best-selling items in each shop? Plush is our number-one seller. We have had a lot of success with Fiona merchandise over the past two years. Other top-selling plush (items) are red panda, giraffe, and fennec fox.
How has Fiona affected the number of visitors who attend? Attendance has increased and so have our sales! We have had back-to-back record years.
What sort of products do you have that are Fiona-related? Custom plush, custom artwork, apparel, hats, books, playing cards, figurines, calendars, towels, etc.
Where do you typically source your products? We partner with local vendors often as well as some larger non-local companies.
Tell us about the Festival of Lights. How much time goes into putting it together? We were voted #1 zoo lights in the country by USA Today. It takes 5,000 hours (beginning in August) to install 3 million lights. We decorate the shops in the two weeks between November 1 and opening day of FOL. We run for six weeks (mid-November through January 1) and this draws large crowds. Festival of Lights is a huge Cincinnati tradition for a lot of families including my own.
How many years has it been going on? 36 years
What sort of things do the gift shops do during the Festival of Lights? We sell glowing toy items out in the park. Glow is our best selling toy during the FOL season. We open a special stand called the Northern Lights Glow Station where we sell glow items as well as spin cotton candy onto glowing swords all in front of the guest. This is a hot seller and guests love that it’s interactive!
Why do you like working for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens? What makes it so special and unique? It’s amazing to be a part of something where employees and guests alike are passionate about the wildlife around them. I have learned so much about my personal impact on conservation and feel lucky to be a part of this amazing institution.