As part of working with buyers, I learned, through trial and error, to recognize the types of stores you can sell your products to and what types of products they may buy.
During my years as a sales rep in Idaho and Washington, I have sold various gift items to several of the types of stores. Below is a large, but not exhaustive, list of stores where I have sold gift lines in my territory over the last years:
Specialty Retail Outlets
1. Souvenir shops: Stores that sell state or local motif products, such as t-shirts, caps, shot glasses, magnets, spoons, and key chains. Most products will include local attractions, events, or facilities “name-dropped” on their surface.
2. Independent gift stores: Typical “mom & pop” gift shops, owned and/or operated stores by an individual or family, or sometimes a partnership. Sometimes they operate with a theme, but mostly, they sell what the proprietors enjoy themselves!
3. Museum gift shops: Many historical societies running a museums, also maintain a small gift shops featuring souvenirs, books, and gifts that relate to their museum’s legacy and/or historically focus.
4. Convenience stores: Truck stops and convenience stores located along major interstate routes or intersections include a small gift and/or souvenir section, targeting travelers and truckers headed home to the family.
5. Restaurant gift shops: Some restaurant have a small area, usually near the entrance to their restaurant, featuring local gifts, books, and/or gourmet food products.
6. Franchise or chain gift stores: A good example would include “Hallmark” stores or other gift retailers bearing a common name and/or motif.
7. Gourmet food stores: Most cities and towns above a certain size harbor at least one gourmet or specialty food store, featuring unique specialty foods and wines not typically found in the local grocery store. Retailers that fall into subcategories of gourmet food stores, would include:
- Wineries or Wine Shops where wine is made and/or sold, and including gift items and gourmet foods related to wine tasting.
- Gourmet Food Producers Gift Shop: A producer of specialty foods with a storefront adds other products to sell to complement their own products sold in the store.
- A Gourmet Food Store: Retailer carrying fine specialty foods, wines, and often, some kitchen gadgets.
8. Kitchen stores: A kitchenware/housewares store that might also carry gourmet foods, and mealtime related gifts.
9. Food co-ops: Many cooperatively owned natural food stores include products that overlap with the gift category, and often carry high quality gourmet foods, personal care, herbal products, and books.
10. Independent grocery stores: Smaller ‘mom & pop’ grocery stores, especially in small towns, sometimes will offer a small gift and/or gourmet food section.
11. Gift basket companies: Often home-based, but sometimes with a larger commercial showroom and fulfillment center, these independent companies arrange gift baskets of gourmet foods and nick-knacks, mostly for business customers, and some private sales.
12. Fresh fruit stands: Normally located roadside on major highways in agricultural areas where lots of fruit and/or vegetable produce is grown. Usually open from late spring into the autumn. Often carry LOTS of gourmet foods, and will dabble in other gifts.
13. Produce shops: A sort of year round outgrowth of seasonal fruit stands, heavy to gourmet foods, since produce is only available certain months of the year. Often emphasize or prefer local products.
14. Hotel/Motel gift shops: Many upscale hotels, and occasional smaller motels or lodges, offer a small gift shop with products designed to appeal to visitors that stay in their facilities.
15. Book stores: Bookstores often carry a small line of gift products, greeting cards, or other products that appeal to their clientele.
16. Tourist attractions’ gift shops: Probably one of the largest categories for souvenir items located on or near attractions that are frequented by tourist.
17. Remote vacation destination: Similar to tourist attractions, these gift stores are located within a remote resort that is often only open seasonally. In Idaho, there are many of these types of gift stores in the mountain resort areas which are remote and away from larger metropolitan areas.
18. RV parks and campgrounds: Registration offices often carry a few lines of gifts and souvenirs.
19. Chamber of Commerce gift shops: Often referred to as a “Visitor Center” and will carry souvenirs, local and Chamber members’ products.
20. College bookstores: With all the student traffic, these stores often sell regional gifts and/or souvenirs.
21. Pharmacy and Drug stores: In small towns, often the drug store is also the gift and souvenir shop.
22. Home decor stores: Many furniture type stores are now moving into home decor stores where some gift items are stocked.
23. Antique shops: These stores are often frequented by tourist, so may be interested in stocking souvenirs.
24. Sporting goods outlets: Fisherman and hunters are often looking for a small gift to take home to their families after their trips.
25. Florist shops and nurseries: Often feature finer gift items, and specialty confections, along with their flowers and accessories.
26. Variety stores: The ol’ fashion “5 and Dime” stores still exist in many small towns and are often the main gift store in town.
27. Airport gifts shops: Located in the airport terminals giving visitors a chance to buy a local or souvenir item before or after arriving in an area. Often these are run by chains, so they are hard to get into, but LUCRATIVE, once you get one of your lines into a single location. (The line then becomes available to all the other stores in the chain, nationwide.)
Some of the more unusual spots where you may be able to sell wholesale gifts include (and these are shops where I have sold gifts products!):
Obscure, but saleable retail outlets for gift items
1. Beauty Shops where the owner/beauty operator would like to expand their business.
2. Liquor Stores sometimes offer gifts, or gourmet products that complement beverage consumption.
3. Coin Shops often feature other gifts that compliment their coins.
4. Sporting goods or outdoor wear stores have been an usual store to sell gifts, but have been some of my biggest customers in Idaho.
5. Ice cream shops, especially those in resort towns, often inventory gifts, candy or gourmet foods.
6. Bakeries have been known to have a gift section in their store.
7. Pack and ship stores sometimes have a card or postcard rack for their customers, and might be a spot for handcrafted pens.