museums&MORE Spring 2018
Peer Perspective: Rene Wineland, Maui Ocean Center

Rene Wineland joined the Zoo & Aquarium Buyers Group board of directors earlier this year. With more than 40 years in specialty retail, she brings a wealth of knowledge.

Rene Wineland

Retail Buyer, Maui Ocean Center

Wailuku, Hawaii

Could you share a little about your background?

In my 40-plus year career, I have always worked in museum and resort retailing. I have been the store manager at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park, store manager for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Director of Retail for Pebble Beach Resorts. I opened The Maui Ocean Center as store manager and buyer in 1998, left to open my own store Aloha Cowboy for 10 years and now have returned to do the buying for the Maui Ocean Center three years ago.

What are your top-selling products?

Our Sea Turtle exhibit is one of our most popular attractions at the aquarium so any product we feature with sea turtles on sell extremely well for us. In Hawaii, jewelry is a top seller for us. We do very well with our Pandora jewelry collection, as well as any pieces that mirrors our sea life collection. We feature many items made only in Hawaii, and our food pantry is very popular with our visitors. It makes a great gift to take home to remember our wonderful Island treats.

What is the best advice you could offer another retailer?

Early in my career, I was introduced to the realization the VIPs in our organization are our frontline people. They are many times the first and last impressions our visitors take home with them. We have a responsibility to make sure we always communicate positive customer service, as it is paramount to creating a wonderful guest experience. We need to make sure our VIPs have the tools they need to be successful, like communicating accurate product information as well as the knowledge of what is happening in the park.

Congrats on joining the ZAG board! What do you find most valuable about being part of the organization?

I am very honored and excited to have recently been elected to the ZAG board. It is a great way to network with other colleagues in our industry. We also are able to speak in a united voice to address issues like the reduction of plastics, and work together with our vendor partners to affect positive change in these environmental areas.

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