Dayton History Museum Gift Shop

Q&A with Emily Teters By Debbie Eisele

Merchandise that creates spur of the moment sales is an important, strategic part of a cultural destination's retail success.

Gift Shop® Plus connected with Emily Teters, museum store manager for Dayton History to learn more about the importance of impulse buys and works best with this type of merchandise. In this Q&A Teters shared her thoughts on pricing strategies and more.

Dayton History Museum Gift Shop
Photos courtesy of Dayton History Museum

​​Why is it important to carry impulse gift items?

Impulse gift items are a big part of any gift store and it’s more than just a candy bar at the register. These items boost profits and increases the enjoyment of shopping and gift-giving for customers. 

What types of products work well for impulse-buys?

Great products for impulse buys are small and easy to pack and carry such as collector pins, magnets, ornaments, and stickers.

Is there a “sweet spot” in terms of pricing these items for quick, easy sales?

There is definitely a “sweet spot” when it comes to pricing. Of course, the cheaper the item is the more likely someone will buy it; however, a great spot is between $5-$15. I have noticed that items within this range do best as impulse buys because it’s the perfect range for a gift for yourself or others, and psychologically does not add much to the shopper’s rolling bill in their head. 

Impulse buys are all about that great find that does not cause heartburn or buyer’s remorse by splurging on it last minute. Unless the item is very central to a company’s mission, I think it is important to stay away from the $20+ range because once you put the “2” in front of the item it lowers the chance of an impulse sale. There is not much difference between $19.95 and $20.00, however the “2” makes many souvenir buyers stop and think a minute.

How successful are impulse-driven products in your store? Do they account for a large percentage of sales in the store?

Impulse-driven products are very successful in my store. Being a gift store for a museum you could argue that many items could be classified as impulse-driven given the nature of most clientele and what we sell, however those purposeful impulse items within the sweet spot of $5-$15 makes up 15% of yearly sales.   

Have you ever created impulse buys by utilizing live stream shopping?

While our store does not utilize these features, I hope to in the future! 

Do you have any favorite impulse gifts that you stock? If so, what are they and what makes them special?

A few of my favorite items to stock are charms, magnets and stickers. These items can be easily customized, have great mark-up potential for maximum profit, and can almost always be added to a sale if the customer hasn’t already picked at least one up to buy. Yet my overall favorite is a brass 3-D ornament, it is a little higher in price from my bulk supply of impulse-buys, but is the perfect souvenir that is small, light, looks expensive, and showcases our main artifact; the 1905 Wright Flyer III. This is our #1 seller year after year and is showcased proudly in the front-center table that can be seen by all directions of traffic. 

I love putting my top sellers in large displays like this as it catches shoppers’ eyes and increases the perceived value of the souvenir. On busy days it’s so much fun to watch the display quickly shrink as everyone grabs one (or two) on their way to the register!

Please share a display tip for any impulse-buy items if you’d like (not necessary)

Impulse buy items need to be displayed prominently and with style. Most items may only be $5, however if you display them with the same effort and care as your $75 items then their perceived value and gravitational pull of customers will increase. Impulse buys do not need to be on the counter, however customers need to walk by them and be able to touch them without a team member’s assistance.

Debbie Eisele

Debbie Eisele is the former managing editor for Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and a variety of special issue publications, including: The Guide, Holiday Shop, Celebrations & Occasions and Waterfront Living.

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