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A Gift for Improving Business

Adding gift sales to the product lineup at a trophy and awards shop can be a win-win situation for both retailers and clients, with retailers getting a new revenue source and expanded customer base and clients getting more of their needs met by an already trusted source.

A Gift for Improving Business

First on Your Customers’ Wish List Is a One-Stop Shop They Can Trust

By Meghan McMahon

(Originally published in the February 2016 issue of Insights.)

Adding gift sales to the product lineup at a trophy and awards shop can be a win-win situation for both retailers and clients, with retailers getting a new revenue source and expanded customer base and clients getting more of their needs met by an already trusted source.

Existing customers have needs beyond trophies, awards, and plaques, so seeing corporate clients and trophy customers as individuals who may need a personalized gift—whether for a wedding, birthday, anniversary, or other important event—can help drive business, said Jeff Rosenthal, a consultant with Stephanie Imports in New York, NY.

“I think gifts are a real opportunity for any engraving shop to expand their business,” Rosenthal said.

Help Them Give, and You Shall Receive

Gifts can be a boon to business in part because people give and receive gifts more than they do awards and trophies, said Louis McNeil, president and founder of Creative Gifts International Inc. in Canton, Mass.

“I may have received my share of awards and trophies, especially when I was younger, but I’ve given literally hundreds more gifts to family, friends, and business associates over the years than trophies and awards I’ve received,” McNeil said.

Fran Carville, CRM and co-owner/partner of Carco Awards in Baton Rouge, La., said Carco added gift sales to their product lineup about 15 years ago because of requests from customers. She said gifts are an easy addition to a product lineup because it doesn’t require a lot of additional equipment or space.

“Most award customers purchase gifts at different times of the year—why not at your store? You don’t need a lot of additional inventory to promote yourself as a retailer with wonderful gift items,” Carville said.

Rosenthal echoed that sentiment, saying it takes only a small amount of floor space—enough for a few shelves—to showcase the gift items you offer.

For retailers looking to add gifts to their services, Carville recommended starting by putting up a display and signage in your store so existing customers are aware you also offer gifts, and including a flyer promoting your gift items with all orders that leave the shop.

Your customers can turn cash into a truly personal and beautiful gift with a personalized money clip from Creative Gifts International.

In fact, setting up a gift display could be easier than you think because you may already stock items that can double as gifts, Carville said. For example, pen sets, small clocks, and desk blocks can be displayed as graduation gifts during May. “Many of these awards customers will see the display and realize they need graduation gifts,” she said.

To that end, Rosenthal said stocking items that are considered business items but can also double as gifts—such as a business card case, as one example—makes good sense. “When you can cross those [product categories] over and provide both to your customer, you’re really expanding your reach as a retailer.”

Retailers can get the word out about their gift options via local advertising and social media, said McNeil. He also suggested touching base with corporate clients as an early step in getting started in gift sales. “Find out if the corporate clients you supply signage and awards to are looking for staff holiday gifts, or if they give gifts to customers or clients. Retailers should have an assortment of gifts you can offer and samples of them personalized.”

This 6-ounce, stainless-steel football flask from Stephanie Imports is suitable for groomsmen, dads, tailgate buddies, and more.

Presents Are Perennial

Two good reasons to get into gift sales, McNeil said, are profit and timing. “Gift sales are bonus sales for most trophy retailers. Although gifts are purchased throughout the year for birthdays and the like, there are major gift-giving times of the year that may help fill in slower times for a trophy retailer.”

The gift industry follows the typical retail calendar, Carville said, meaning November and December are busy times with a lot of sales. But gift sales also spike around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well as during the graduation, wedding, and reunion seasons, she said.

One thing that makes gift sales such a good fit for award and trophy shops is the personalization element. Personalization takes a gift to another level—it’s an “incredibly important selling feature,” McNeil said—and the equipment necessary to personalize a gift is already available in most awards shops.

“Tap into this customer base and you’ll find you’ll have these customers forever,” McNeil said. “They’ll have a personalized wedding gift to give newlyweds and you’ll get that business for every wedding they attend. They’ll give their families gifts with monograms and family crests for birthdays and holidays. You can be THE resource for those gifts time and again, and that business will grow as more people who receive personalized gifts become personalized gift-givers.”

In addition to personalizing gifts with the recipient’s name or initials, you can also put your sentiments in the form of a quote, saying, or quip right on the gift itself, Rosenthal said. “Instead of giving them a gift with a card, the gift you’ve given them is the card,” he said, adding these types of gifts become treasured keepsakes. “It makes gift-giving a home run.”

Carville said Carco does most of the personalization of gift items in-house, but the inability to offer personalization of a particular item onsite shouldn’t be a deterrent. “Suppliers do offer a wide variety of personalization options, so don’t shy away from a job just because you can’t do it in-house,” she said.

Keeping Up with the Consumers

Much like the awards and trophy industry, gifts also are subject to current trends. “Customers searching for gifts may not be interested in the same old products from last year,” Carville said. “We have customers walk in the door and want to know, ‘What’s new?’, so we try to always have new items to show.”

McNeil said items that are popular now include home décor items, particularly those that are personalized, as well as practical household items such as cutting boards, jewelry boxes, and mugs.

“Yes, there are trends in gift items, but they’re easy to follow because we’re all consumers, so we’re all gift buyers,” McNeil said, adding magazines and social media are good tools to see what’s popular or trending.

Staying up on the trends can help build gift sales over time, Rosenthal said, urging trophy and awards shops to offer gifts as a means to increase business. “When people are standing in the store, instead of just seeing trophies and plaques, they might not even know they are in a gift store.”

McNeil, too, said it’s important to seize the opportunity not just to add to your business, but also to create customers for life. “Many of the customers for youth trophies are going to have and attend birthday parties, graduate from school, get married, have children, have anniversaries, and so on. They could turn to a trusted source for a lifetime of buying gifts, especially personalized gifts.

He added that because adding gift items doesn’t conflict with the traditional trophy stop business—it only adds to it—it’s a no-brainer.

When it comes to capitalizing on gift-giving, there’s “nothing to lose and more business to gain,” he said.

Stephanie Imports offers these humorous eyeglass holders with options for various recipients.

You Could Add These Gifts to Your Shop!

  • Bookmarks
  • Jewelry and accessories, such as necklaces, cufflinks, and bracelets
  • Brush, makeup, and manicure sets
  • Card holders and cases
  • Cigar and smoking accessories
  • Contact lens or eyeglass kits
  • Jewelry and keepsake boxes
  • Flasks, drinkware, and bar sets
  • Leather gifts
  • Apparel and clothing accessories
  • Desk accessories, like letter openers, memo pad holders, paperweights, and more
  • Wood gifts, such as cutting boards and keepsake boxes
  • Travel accessories, such as luggage tags and passport holders
  • Photo frames and holders
  • Utensils, trays, and other serveware
  • Napkin rings, toasting flutes, and other tableware
  • Money clips and wallets
This wooden puzzle from Creative Gifts International can be made perfect for virtually any recipient with the right engraved message.

Awards and Personalization Association

The Awards and Personalization Association is the organization for retailers and suppliers of personalized and customized items. By providing education, meetings, and access to a vibrant network of professionals, the Awards and Personalization Association is the one place to ensure the growth of your talent, your business, and your professional community.

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