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A common thread: creating a purposeful gift shop

Event Network explores how attractions can make a real difference with their retail outlets

Common Thread Event Network Philosophy

by Amy IsenbergEvent Network

Throughout the year, and especially as we look ahead to 2022, Event Network draws inspiration by looking to our ‘common threads’: how we as human beings are connected by our shared planet and humanity, and how our actions toward the earth and each other have a lasting impact on future generations. 

As the retail partner of many trusted museums and cultural attractions, we understand the influence that these iconic places have on the attitudes and behaviours of guests. Leading by example is a massive responsibility for any organization, and the mission of each institution must seamlessly extend to the retail experience to have a lasting impact.

By focusing on what unites us all, we can create shopping experiences that uphold and demonstrate values, such as a commitment to conservation and sustainability, as well as strengthen the local communities which they serve and ensure that every person feels represented and welcome. Here’s a look at how our Common Threads philosophy guides purposeful decisions for our retail stores.

The Generals grenade hot sauce US Army Museum Store purposeful retail
The General’s hot sauces, available at the National Museum of the United States Army gift shop, come from a veteran-owned business that serves the greater good by creating jobs for veterans, and by donating a meaningful percentage of profits back to organizations that support troops, veterans, and their families.

Under-represented groups

Purchasing from minority-owned businesses provides access to economic opportunity, especially for those most underrepresented and in greatest need of advocacy. Women-owned businesses, businesses owned by people of colour, and LGBTQ-owned, as well as veteran-owned businesses, are great places to start sourcing products.

Conservation and sustainability (say no to single-use plastics)

When it comes to purposeful retail, sourcing products that minimize adverse impacts on the planet and help ensure the long-term ability for all living things to thrive in their natural environments is a constant source of inspiration. 

tentree at oregon zoo shop
Retail Store at Oregon Zoo offers apparel by Tentree, planting ten trees for every item sold to support forest regeneration.

For example, we prioritize sustainable suppliers for many of our products including apparel, plush and accessories that are made from recycled materials. We have found several meaningful alternatives to eliminate single-use plastic from our product assortments.

sustainable water bottles event network purposeful retail retail
Purposeful retail: reusable water bottles from Seattle Aquarium, alongside spring water bottled in 100% recycled aluminium. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable and recycled most often – about 70% more than its plastic equivalent.

Water bottle alternatives

Offering sustainable water bottle options is now table stakes for most retailers, and there are a multitude of style options from which to choose. However, when thirst hits, guests may feel that purchasing water is unavoidable. So, consider making Green the easy choice for guests with an aluminium can alternative to single-use plastic bottles. 

Source locally & give back

Stimulate local economies, represent regional tastes and styles by sourcing through local vendors.  Local snacks and artisanal crafts are fun and affordable items. Especially for out-of-state visitors looking to bring home mementos from their travels. 

Many local proprietors also give back to the community through cause-related donations to uplift organizations in need. 

Rango Honey produces honey from the Sonoran desert and is sold locally at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ. Rango Honey’s organization, Neshama, provides job training and independent living services for adults with Autism.

Purposeful retail and a store environment designed for everyone

Demonstrating a commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility applies far beyond the product offering. It also includes how a store is designed, merchandised and staffed – to ensure that all people are represented and feel welcome inside the shop.

A welcoming store environment

  • Offer products at a range of price points to accommodate as much of the economic spectrum as possible. Everyone deserves to be able to make a purchase.
  • Hire a store team of people from diverse backgrounds. Their collective knowledge is a big asset to delivering exceptional customer service.

Visual Merchandising

  • Place products at varying eye levels where all can see or access the items; have team members readily available to provide assistance when needed
  • Clear a wide enough pathway in aisles and between displays to ensure comfortable flow
  • Be mindful that in-store photos and graphics should represent all people in terms of ethnicity, gender and age

All lives on earth share a common thread! This philosophy, while complex, is achievable through a sincere commitment to act for the good of all people.

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Amy Isenberg, director, marketing and brand management, Even Network

Amy Isenberg

Amy Isenberg is Director of Marketing and Brand Management at Event Network, the leading operator of experiential retail in North America. An avid user of communication tools, platforms, and apps, she still prefers real-life experiences to digital ones.

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