When going on vacation, people like to remember their special trip with a souvenir or gift to bring home. While those gifts can run the gamut when it comes to price range and selection, one thing is for certain — people are buying like crazy. In fact, according to Statisa, gift, novelty, and souvenir sales are estimated to reach over $17 billion in 2019.

A poll done on Touringplans.com found that a majority of people are willing to spend between $0-50 on souvenirs while the second largest response came in at spending $51-100. What this tells you as a retailer is that you need to have a variety of product options and price points to appeal to the wide variety of customers that filter into your shop. To help, consider the below souvenir ideas that can help boost your store sales and encourage repeat business.


The Hunger Games

If there’s one thing that people can agree on, it’s that you really can’t go wrong with food. Your location will determine your selection, but a good place to start is with traditional snacks that customers can immediately enjoy — think granola bars, chips, pretzels, fresh fruit, etc. —which all become impulse buys for tourist customers when they become “hangry”. After all, being a tourist can be exhausting – even when fun – so it’s fair to assume your customers work up their appetites.

But the real fun — and money — is in offering things that they couldn’t pick up back home. If you’re in an area with a local specialty that may include wine, chocolates, candy or more, be sure to include this in your inventory assortment. Display items like spices or local coffee with items that can be cross-merchandised, such as coffee mugs or cookbooks. This allows the customer to take a piece of their vacation home with them to enjoy later.


Wear It and Declare It

If there’s another thing that people can agree on, it’s that clothes are – well – necessary. Make sure you offer something that customers will actually wear that appeals to both sentimentality and practicality. The specific apparel you choose to source for your business will depend on the weather in your gift shop’s locale, but the money is in offering something for every kind of weather. Customers love to find these items emblazoned with the name of the place they are visiting, so whether it’s a sweatshirt or a beach cover-up, make sure you have all that they need by introducing name-drop merchandise such as those found at IGES.

Clothing aside, who can forget accessories? Jewelry is a popular purchase for customers to commemorate special occasions, and it’s a great margin-booster for retailers. Include a wide variety of styles and price points, with customizable options so shoppers can let everyone know where they’ve been. Be sure to have offerings for men as well — think hats, watches, and rings — so you’re not missing out on a sale. Don’t forget accessories for kiddos, as well!


Home Sweet Home

The great thing about souvenirs is that so many of them are practical and can be used once shoppers get back home. Offer up everything from coffee mugs to bottle openers to magnets to wall art and more to appeal to the largest amount of people. While some will only be looking for a new way to take their tea in the morning, still others would like something to hang on the wall to remind them of their special trip. The key here is to offer a variety of goods that appeal to customers bringing home and using in their home.

Be sure to highlight your location or destination on your products to make it distinctly your own and something that they can’t buy in their town. While some retailers will opt to carry only handmade, custom items, others look for the familiarity of licensed goods that their customers know. Regardless, be sure to offer careful wrapping of breakable items to make sure customers can travel home with their souvenirs confidently. Better yet? Offer shipping as an option. Or both!


Get Personal

Any store can offer up a picture frame, but not every store will offer up a personalized picture frame that can house the picture your guests just took at the selfie station in your shop. The point is that personalized items are what separate the generic from the great in the world of retail. Not only does this add value to the item the guest is buying, but it also helps add to your bottom line. Remember, offering up customizable products — everything from key chains to T-shirts — gives you an advantage while giving your shoppers the chance to make that souvenir uniquely their own.


A Novel Idea

 One-of-a-kind novelty items are a great way to not only bring out a laugh, but also remind people of pleasant memories. They’re a great way to increase sales because they provide the opportunity for customers to pick up that special gift for someone back home. You want to get and keep your customer’s attention, but be sure to keep your customer base in mind when deciding what items to carry.

While a hotel gift shop might carry drinking-related humor items thanks to bachelor and bachelorette parties that frequent their location, those same items might offend the families coming into a zoo or aquarium gift shop. The key is to make the items fun and something that the customer might not need… but instead something they will want to take home the second they see it. They should not only bring laughs, but also provide great gift buying opportunities.

Finally, remember that customers coming into your store are looking for souvenirs that will not only fill a need, but also fill a want. They want to be reminded of their vacation or trip, so make sure you offer a wide inventory assortment that will bring your retail business healthy margins and increased profits.


By Nicole Reyhle

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