An inn gift shop is an ideal spot for selling your branded items. Before opening, consider the pros and cons.
Advantages include increased income, expanded branding, and a draw for new and returning guests. On the other hand, remember you’ll need to find space, invest in inventory, and keep track of income and expenses. Here are some great suggestions from innkeeper Debbie Reynolds of the Rocky Mountain Lodge & Cabins.
• Select the items you’ll carry. T-shirts, mugs, robes, hats, candies, bath amenities, and locally made crafts and edibles are all good ideas. Offer samples, especially for foods, lotions, etc.
• Determine how much space you’ll need. Display gifts at eye level; don’t clutter the area with too many items crammed together. A gift shop doesn’t require a separate room. Many innkeepers run successful gift corners from a cupboard or bookcase.
• Start small. Stock just a few items until you learn which sell best. Order wholesale using your sales tax license.
• Get a current and valid state sales tax license. You’ll need to pay the sales tax you collect on a regular basis.
• Build in a profit. The general rule of thumb is to double your cost, then add 50 percent. Use common sense – what would you pay for that item? Consider a smaller markup on items that advertise your inn (like coffee mugs) than ones that don’t (like locally made jewelry). You may have to adjust prices initially until you find a good balance.
Do you have a gift shop at your inn? Leave a comment and let us know what you have learned from running it!