museums&MORE Summer 2016

Unique ways to offer customized gifts in your shop

It’s always a well-achieved task when someone is able to walk into a museum, zoo or aquarium gift shop and find a little token to remember their visit by, but why rest on your laurels? Why not go a step further and allow them to stumble onto that same little token, but with their name or something specific that pertains to them on it? There’s something so magical, so empowering in finding a gift that’s customized to you. Like organically finding an in-person Etsy shop. Thousands of businesses successfully sell these types of products, and there’s no shortage of different skus to carry. While local manufacturers may prove to be the best route to go when it comes to finding what will fit with your merchandise, other companies provide personalization on a larger scale.

Take Catstudio, for example. The idea of its Geography Pillow came from a love of travel and an appreciation for intricate design. With an understanding about the importance one feels in regards to a certain place, the team got to work designing, coloring and embroidering pillows that cover just about any location you could think of. From Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks to state, island and now school-specific themes, there is no shortage in its customization department.

With somewhere around 150 designs in the Geography collection alone, Catstudio is on a mission to provide personalized pillows for every pocket of the world.

Mimicking the penchant for personalized pillows, Alexandra Ferguson has tried its hand with zip code pillows. The cornerstone of the brand that began in 2008 with felt appliqued pillows and material made from recycled plastic bottles is bold typography and fresh, sassy phrases. Ferguson uses recycled products to make each product, so customers get an ultra-trendy gift that didn’t harm the planet.

If you don’t think stocking your shelves with already personalized products is a good fit for your shop, why not employ someone who can do the customization right there behind the counter? Billions of dollars are made with the sale of a personalized trinket, décor piece or gift, and offering on-the-spot customization could prove to be a good investment.

A couple years ago, the group at Coton Colors attended an annual marathon for a company with which they work often — St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. They’ve been making ornaments for a long time, but for this occasion they wanted to offer a personal touch. Each marathon runner, family member and supportive friend was able to purchase an ornament and have it personalized right then and there with any message they wanted. These glass balls sold like hotcakes. They couldn’t keep them on the shelves, and the designers were kept busy for hours. The Coton Colors team saw what going the extra mile was able to do, and decided to teach a personalization workshop at its recent convention in Destin, Florida. As a part of its More Than a Manufacturer initiative, the marketing team provided step-by-step guides to support this type of in-store personalization. After an hour in the workshop, attending retailers were able to get a good handle on creating a personalized look for their own shoppers. Your shop could benefit greatly from attending (or hosting) an event like this.

Whether stocking your shelves with products that feature top common names, offering a variety of popular personalization ideas on specialty products, or having a physical employee personalize gifts for visitors, having at least a select few customized gifts available is a good idea.

Five non-traditional ways of personalization

  • Zip codes
  • Specific coordinates
  • Area codes
  • Street/City names
  • Meaningful dates

Dates and places are the new initial. Wear college pride in the form of a zip or area code charm on a necklace; bracelets made from baseball laces with the coordinates of your favorite team’s stadium; or showcase your love by hanging an art print with your wedding date on it. Customized products are countless, it’s just a matter of finding the right kind to fill your shop.

Social Connections

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