The Sweetest Place on Earth
The Hotel Hershey was built in 1933, overlooking the chocolate factory owned by Milton Hershey. This resort is well-known for its elegance, excellent service and luxurious amenities. The hotel provides 276 guest rooms and welcomes over two million visitors a year.
Alexandria Carl, retail buyer for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, said that the resort is located in “Hershey, Pennsylvania, affectionately known as The Sweetest Place On Earth.” The resort is designed for families and its retail shops feature Hershey-themed gifts, apparel and (of course) chocolate.
“The Hotel is owned by Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company and its core purpose is to help fulfill the dream of our founder, Milton S. Hershey, by providing value to Milton Hershey School in its mission of helping students lead happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives — just as Mr. Hershey intended,” Carl explained.
The overall resort experience is accentuated by the six incredible retail shops on premises. “Our goal is to create a personalized shopping experience for our guests with a high level of guest service. Gifts purchased at The Hotel Hershey aren’t just products — they evoke memories of a fun family vacation to our unique destination, a romantic getaway or a ‘sweet’ spa day with girlfriends,” she said.
Learn more about The Hotel Hershey’s retail environment, through this Q&A with Alexandria Carl.
Describe the overall retail offerings on premise and the product mix available in each store.
AC: The Shops At The Hotel Hershey have something for everyone. Signatures carries exclusive Hershey apparel and gifts as well as The Hotel Hershey logoed items. The Jeweler features a curated collection of fine and fashion jewelry and watches from brands like Le Vian, Roberto Coin, Shinola and Majorica pearls. A Storied Home offers thoughtful, humorous and unique gifts and home accessories. Chic Boutique carries high-end apparel from Lysse and lululemon, bath and body items and fun, fashionable accessories. Shine, A Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store, offers apparel and accessories by Lilly Pulitzer. And Sweets is where you’ll find your favorite Hershey’s candy, novelty candy, plush, puppets, games, toys and puzzles.
Do you offer signature or custom products in any of the stores?
AC: Yes, we carry signature products in each and every store. Signature items range from our exclusive Le Vian Hershey’s Chocolate Diamond pendant to souvenir items like branded clothing, keychains, caps and mugs.
Do you attend any industry trade shows to curate your mix for your stores? If so, which ones do you attend?
AC: Yes, we attend Surf Expo, Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show, NY NOW and Couture and JCK jewelry shows.
Tell us about how you create and manage merchandise displays.
AC: Each of our displays tells a story and has a common theme. Most often, we group products by vendor or collection. Adjacency and shopability are key, especially in gift and decor stores.
We encourage all sales associates to take part in merchandising the stores. It’s a great way to learn the product and where it’s located. We try to do display changes on a weekly basis to keep the stores looking fresh at all times. We do larger floor changes quarterly, as our business changes each season.
Do you find it valuable to group complementary products in a way that promotes cross-selling opportunities inside the stores?
AC: We try to do this as much as possible, especially with custom merchandise collections. It maximizes sales and keeps the floor looking clean, organized and easy to shop.
Is there a particular display design that resonates best with your clients?
AC: We do a lot with our impact tables in the front areas of our stores. As guests window shop, they can quickly and easily see the merchandise that is featured on these tables. We change these impact table displays to cater to the clientele we have in-house. For example, in the summertime, we feature items like plush and games that would attract kids and families; in the fall and over the holidays, we feature seasonal merchandise; and during our business meeting season, you can find more elevated souvenirs, like The Hotel Hershey’s logoed Greg Norman polos and handmade pottery.
Describe how your retail stores adjusted during the pandemic.
AC: Our team adapted to safely bring our guests sweet shopping experiences at The Hotel Hershey. Phone orders increased dramatically and continue to be higher volume than in past years. Guests that weren’t able to visit Hershey chose to have their favorite items shipped to them. For the health and safety of our guests, we suspended returns and exchanges during the height of the pandemic. When returns and exchanges were reinstated, we used that opportunity to tighten up some of our policies to be more in-line with the policies of major retailers.
Did you experience an increase in online sales during the past year?
AC: We did see an increase in online sales during the pandemic, as guests were unable to travel to Hershey to purchase in person. Many guests ordered larger quantities of our signature bath and body products so that they could continue to use them daily at home without running out. More information and our online shop can be found at www.thehotelhershey.com/ shopping/.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share with others in the industry?
AC: Changing up displays frequently is so important. Also, it’s ok to make floor changes while the store is open, even if it can be somewhat unsightly. “In progress” displays make customers curious about what might be new. We often sell product while it’s being re-merchandised and looking a little messy.
Top Sellers at The Hotel Hershey Retail Shops
- The Hotel Hershey Bathrobe
- Hershey’s chocolate gift baskets
- The Kitty Keller Custom Cloisonne Ornament
- Signature Spa At The Hotel Hershey Bath and Body Amenities
- Hershey, Pennsylvania private label, chocolate-scented candles from Greenmarket Purveying