Fall Trade Show News                     

Upcoming ZAG Events

Las Vegas Souvenir and Resort Show

ZAG Mixer

Date: 12 Sep 2012

Time: 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Where: Room 110 in the convention center

Open to members and sponsors!

 Beverages and Hors D' oeuvres will be provided


ZAG Mixer

Date: 07 Nov 2012

Time: 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Where: Rainforest Adventures http://www.rfadventures.com/ 

What: A gathering of members and sponsors

ZAG Dinner

Date: 08 Nov 2012

Time: 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Where: Hidden Mountain Resort

What: A gathering of members


Sponsor Specials

                             Member News                          

ZAG Travel Sponsorship

One of ZAG’s goals is to help its members gather more information about the zoo/aquarium retail industry to make the best buying decisions possible for their facility’s gift shops. A large part of that involves knowing what vendors and product lines are available in order to make decisions on which vendor has the best products at the best prices. One way to gain this knowledge is by attending trade shows. However, not every facility has the budget to send their merchandise buyer to a show.

ZAG is pleased to announce that it will sponsor a ZAG member from two different facilities to attend both the International Gift Exposition in the Smokies (IGES), Sevierville, TN, running November 6-10, and the Smoky Mountain Gift Show (SMGS), Gatlinburg, TN, running Nov 7-10. The 2021 Annual ZAG Week will take place during this time, and the two selected buyers will be able to take part in many ZAG Week networking activities, including the Annual ZAG Business Meeting and Dinner. ZAG will cover each member’s transportation, lodging and meals. In addition, ZAG will provide a “mentor” for each recipient who will help them navigate the shows, meet fellow buyers, and provide valuable gift industry related insight while at the shows.

In order to qualify for the sponsorship, each recipient must:

• Be available November 6-10, 2012
• Be employed by an institution that has not provided funds for gift buyers to attend national gift shows in the past five years
• Attend Annual ZAG Week-sponsored networking functions, including the ZAG members’ Annual Business Meeting and Dinner on Thursday, November 8
• Be interviewed after their trip for a future ZAG newsletter article sharing their experiences at the shows, the new vendors and product lines they found, and any suggestions they have for other ZAG members who can’t get to a gift show.

The deadline for submitting an application is Monday, August 13. A random drawing of all applications received will be held and the winners will be notified by mail and phone by Friday, August 31.
Click here to download the application or email brent@vilaszoo.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to request an application.

This is a great and unique opportunity to dramatically expand your list of vendors and industry contacts in order to offer your guests fresh and exciting new product.

Travel Sponsorship Testimonial

The ZAG opportunity has given me a new insight on how to purchase and establish new products lines suitable for the BC Wildlife Park Gift shop. It showed me how important it is to take time to talk to different vendors and work on creating relationships. The opportunity to attend the show most definitely helped me to improve my negotiating skills with vendors, especially when it comes to freight charges and obtaining display units. As a result of attending the 2011 show I established 4 new product lines and relationships, all of which have proven very beneficial in increasing our gift shop sales. I also had the opportunity to meet directly with existing vendors and strengthen relationships, (put a face to the other person on the end of the line ).

Having said this, I believe my biggest benefit from attending the 2011 International Gift Exposition in the Smokies (IGES) and the Smoky Mountain Gift Show (SMGS), was the opportunity to associate with the ZAG Board members and members of the ZAG Buying group. Through this networking I was able the draw for a vast experience in Gift Shop inventory purchasing retail owners, learning what some of the bestselling items might be, learning what may not have been such a hot seller and what trends maybe coming forward in the future. The ZAG members were able to give some new insights on presenting and displaying products, again what has worked and not been so successful. I found the round table discuss held at the ZAG banquet very beneficial in increasing knowledge and awareness for my future buying efforts.

I would like to thank the ZAG Board, with special thanks to Brent and Kathryn for hosting and giving me this opportunity, I know whoever are the recipients for this year’s sponsorship will find it truly a rewarding experience.

Thank again and hopefully I will see you at the Las Vegas Gift show in September 2102.

John Stark

Business and Development Manager

BC Wildlife Park

       Member Interview    


Denise Lamoureux

Operations Manager

Southwick's Zoo


Please describe your facility…acreage, annual attendance, major exhibits, most popular animals, etc.

Southwick's Zoo is the largest zoological experience in 

New England.  We are situated in the rambling countryside of the historic Blackstone River Valley in Massachusetts spread over 300 acres with 200 acres developed.  We are a seasonal business open Mid April - Mid October.  During our 6 month open period, we are host to over 300,000 guests.  We are a privately family owned ZAA accredited facility featuring over 500 animals and over 150 different species.  Southwick's Zoo is the primary host facility to Earth Ltd and the Earth Discovery Center , a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization whose mission is to provide environmental and conservation education with an emphasis on animal ecology, endangered species, and threatened habitats.  Some of our popular attractions include our new giraffe habitat, the endangered white rhinoceros, chimpanzees, lions, tigers, leopard, the 35 acre walk through deer forest and parakeet landing & feeding station just to name a few.  In 2012, we opened new exhibits including hyena, siamang, and Brazilian tapirs.  Southwick's Zoo also offers entertaining & educational shows, kiddie rides, children's play park, the Woodland Express rubber tire train ride, the Skyfari Sky ride and so much more.

Please describe your merchandise operations…number of year-round shops, seasonal shops, square footage, seasonal carts, etc. 

The Purple Peacock gift shop is the primary merchandise facility at the zoo and is located at the entrance/exit.  The Purple Peacock is approximately 3000 square feet and is the only building open to the public daily till Christmas.  The seasonal shops located inside the zoo include the African inspired Marangu Trail Outpost (approx 1500 square feet) and the Parakeet Landing Shop (approx 800 square feet) & Aviary.  We also carry merchandise in our Woodland Train Station and for 2012 opened a new merchandise kiosk named the Jungle Hut that features tropical inspired souvenirs, plush, toys, and novelty ice cream.  2012 also brought the opening of the Elkhorn Mining & Panning sluice boosting sales at the Woodland Train Station.

List some of your best-selling merchandise items and categories.   Where possible, please include specifics like vendor name, color, etc.

The Purple Peacock features a little bit of something for everyone in all price ranges. We have the typical plush, toys, novelties, souvenirs & clothes for children of all ages while also featuring handmade, fair trade clothing, souvenirs and specialty gifts for all. We also have the Animaland stuff & dress your own animal station that has been a popular and consistent seller year after year.  The Rhode Island Novelty and K&M International Plush/Toy lines are our best sellers with the best profit margins.  We also have some Douglas Plush, Wishpets, and we have introduced some new items from The Petting Zoo this year that are showing promise.  Wheeler Jewelry, The Mountain t-shirts, Bruce Miner Posters and Folkmanis Puppets are staples in our shops because they are consistently good sellers.  Clothing is always a challenge for buyers and for small children we found Dainty Miss to be very popular with great profit margins. Bright colors seem to be the trend right now and many of the tie dye and brights are moving out the door.  Ganz is a great company for impulse and tchotchke gifts and Stoneage Arts have been a great resource for
African inspired masks, figurines, and home decor.  Charles Products & Nancy Sales have been our go to companies for logo and imprinted souvenirs. 

 Are any items or categories trending downward in popularity?

Shot Glasses, pins, patches, higher end jewelry, holiday, and school related products are selling slower each year.

What trends do you foresee in 2012? 

We are noticing a pick up in the $15 - $20 price point in plush, toys, and clothing.  We've introduced Snazzy Beads clay jewelry with mid level price points in 2012 and are showing good response.  We are offering more eco-friendly items with reusable or recycled materials.  The overall population's consciousness of "going green" has definitely impacted our buying and sales.  We are more aware of the origin of the products and how they are made and can translate that to the customer. It is a challenge trying to find eco-friendly products that not only boost sales but make a positive impact on the environment.  Made in the

USA is also a trending right now and we think that it is a great trend.  As a buyer I always ask where a product is made and many of the companies who do import have answered our pleas and started moving some of their business to the United States .  For example, Charles Products who imports from China for almost all of their products have started bringing back in-house printing in the US .  Not only does it give jobs to those in the US , it allows for smaller quantities for buyers.  We hope they continue this trend and encourage others to do so. 

 What trade shows do you go to?

We do most of our buying at the IGES and Smokey Mountain Gift Show.  We have also alternated between the New York International Gift Fair and the Boston Gift Show.

         Vendor Question        

Green Versus Green $

Once again, we open the floor to our sponsors to talk about a specific issue.  This quarter it is the thorny question of preservation versus profit.  With problems ranging from availability and cost to simply understanding what is truly green compared to a good greenwashing* story, the question we gave our sponsors was:  Everyone wants to go Green, but it can be difficult both to understand the truth of what is out there and to afford it.  As a company, how have you balanced conservation and profit?  Feel free to include examples beyond product, such as shipping materials and paper usage.

Kristi Curl Mandsager – Momadic – email:  sales@momadic.com

Momadic concentrates on trying to be completely green in everything we do from design to production to shipping. The methods we use to produce our products are among the greenest methods available. We also try to utilize products that are local and self-sustaining and use every possible part of our materials in different products. 

It’s not so much balancing conservation and profit at Momadic - it’s a fundamental belief. We are so passionate about making a statement within the community that profit is a perk that comes with producing eco-conscious products. Our company foundation is built with a green philosophy in mind.

For shipping we also try to reuse any materials that we can while still making sure that our products are shipped safely to their location and consolidate anything as well to try and conserve resources.

Our goal is not just to produce quality products but to produce quality products that are sustainable, green, educational, useful, and Made in the U

SA .

Christina Hartman– Safari Ltd. – email:  christinahartman@safariltd.com

Having just made a large financial investment in switching to electronic invoices, this Green vs. Green($) conundrum couldn’t hit closer to home! At Safari Ltd.®, we are passionate about doing our part to conserve, and while we budget for grand expenditures we also balance profit through smaller efforts that actually work to lower expenses.

By reusing boxes, producing reusable containers for our TOOBS®, turning off the lights while not in the restroom, shutting down computers at the end of the day, and printing on both sides of paper we are not only doing our part to save the environment but we are also saving some Green($)! So while at time going Green can be expensive, preserving the environment and working to reduce costs in other ways makes the efforts well worth it – and feasible!

Jeff Goodner – Dillon, Inc. – email:  jeff@dillonimporting.com

Keeping conservation in mind, Dillon, Inc. is proud to announce that we have upgraded our accounting software, thereby reducing our paper usage by seventy-six percent. Go Green!

Bob Harju – Pumpernickel Press – email:  bob@pumpernickelpress.com

At Pumpernickel Press, we are dedicated to Conservation and Made in the

USA . We try and stay balanced with this philosophy and make a profit, but it may not always work out. We try and stay lean in every area of our business – staff, inventory, etc. Our profit margins are not that of other companies, but we believe in our philosophy – “Make a unique, quality product in the US using recycled materials and you will develop a following of consumers who appreciate you.” And this really works. It has been maybe a slower growth than others, but a very consistent growth and we are now growing more rapidly than ever in a slower economy. We are building our brand.  

For our unique greeting cards, we use beautiful nature themed artwork, a mixed source of recycled FSC paper – made of 30% post consumer waste paper and 70% Forest Stewardship Council certified paper. We use agricultural based inks when printing our cards. All of our cards have educational and conservation oriented information on the backs of each card. All our packaging material are made in the

US using wraps from recycled paper. We use hand tooled brass dies that are made in the US for our embossing process. We use natural birch wood fixtures for our displays – made in the US . And we give back to various non-profit conservation and charitable organizations..  

Things come and go, products take off and then fade but for us, it’s not about “just the profits”, it’s about making quality unique products that people appreciate, and doing the right thing for our people and our land. We feel that this is the formula for longevity and it certainly makes us feel good about what we do.

Dennis Kalian – Bears 2 Go – email:  dkalian@bears2go.com

We always look for ways to “Go Green” both from the perspective of protecting our environment and also as a way of avoiding unnecessary expenses. Then starting about a year and a half ago spurred on by the challenging economy, we began to more actively look for ways to cut costs.  We discovered that we had been producing a lot more printed materials than we needed. At that point we decided to take the risk and eliminate printed catalogs entirely and make our web site, our catalog. Instead of printing and mailing a catalog we would produce a postcard suggesting that customers check out the specials found only in our online catalog on our website, http://bears2go.com . To date the strategy has worked, sales haven’t suffered and customers seem not to mind the fact that there is no physical catalog. And we’ve saved a bunch of money. It’s a win-win.

One other way we have become green is we have begun to offer a recycled fiber-fill.  The Green fiber-fill is made from recycled plastic bottles.  The great thing about the recycled fiber is that it costs the same as the non-recycled fiber fill.

All in all, I think the one good thing that comes out of the difficult economy of the past few years is that saving the environment and saving our businesses are now playing on the same team.

Scott Leveton – ef ivory – email:  sales@efivory.com

Green versus Green ($) – It is catchy to say that we want to go green, but we all must be willing to sacrifice some green$ to do so. At elephant-friendly ivory, we accept that procuring raw materials (nuts from the tagua palm tree) has an inherently higher cost than plastics. We are willing to sacrifice profit to use materials that promote conservation. We appreciate ZAG buyers who are willing to do the same, despite the pressure from superiors to produce more green$. It is a fine balance, as we all want to be profitable!

Being green goes beyond raw materials in our case. All of our paper/cardboard used in packaging is re-used. While not always aesthetically pleasing, it helps in a small way to conserve.

We also strive to be paperless, in practice, not in theory.

-          We receive orders electronically

o   Via e-mail

o   Our fax number is linked to our e-mail, so no print-out is necessary

-          All invoices are e-mailed to our customers

-          Almost all bills are received electronically

-          All bills are paid via electronic transfers or credit cards (with paperless statements)

-          All purchase orders are sent electronically

-          We maintain our current catalog online rather than print a new catalog each year – If customers wish to have a catalog, we provide a PDF file.

*Greenwashing - a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization's aims and policies are environmentally friendly. Whether it is to increase profits or gain political support, greenwashing may be used to manipulate popular opinion to support otherwise questionable aims.

                             Green Corner                             

The purpose of repurpose

We always hear the words Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose in the zoo and aquarium industry, so our focus in this article will be to repurpose. As buyers think how many items you have bought over the years that people have thrown away and are now in landfills worldwide. So as buyers concerned about the environment we should look at items that have been repurposed from vendors. For example: 5 used plastic Coke bottles can be made into a tee-shirt, used clothing can be made into purses, old banners can be made into tote bags and bottle caps can be made into home décor products. As the saying goes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is truer today than ever before, as some items do not resemble their original purpose in no way, shape or form.     

Buying repurposed products are great for the environment and they create jobs throughout the world because the repurposed items have to be collected from trash, recycling facilities and homes in small villages. So think of it as mining trash for treasure. Not only does it create jobs but it stops more items ending up in landfills or drifting into our oceans and most of the time it takes much less energy than harvesting new raw materials for products. As buyers we should all be asking the question to our vendors how much of an item is post-consumer and if they respond none, then ask the question why and what can be done to get more post-consumer materials into a product. Remember that not every item or vendor can provide for post-consumer materials but throw the idea out there and as technology changes, what was impossible today could be a reality tomorrow. 

Each “Green” article will now try to encompass a vendor to feature to tell their “Green” story and support the topic for that article. This first featured vendor is Pampeana Glass Art. This company is helping keep old windows out of landfills and keeping our ground safer for future generations.

Pampeana Glass Art (www.pampeana.net) has been in business since 2003 supporting Fair Trade standards for labor, environmentalism and social policy relating to the production and distribution of Fair Trade goods.

 Over the years, we have became more and more involved in establishing sustainable programs overseas that allow artisans to not only have a sustainable and predictable way of living regardless of the US product demand cycle, but also to do it in an environmentally friendly way. This type of partnership has also created job security for our workers overseas. Without these worries, Ecuadoran artists can now focus of developing fantastic pieces of art.

Our primary goal is to provide opportunities that allow individuals of low education and economical resources to have a stable environment helping them move from a position of vulnerability to one of security and economic self-sufficiency. 

In the beginning we had three products and around 20 designs. We now have over 60 products and more than 300 designs. About 80% of our designs are done in the

US by either Pablo Merlo Flores or Amy Erickson. Our designs target zoo, aquariums, museum, national parks as well as general gift shops. We have also done a fair amount of custom work and name dropping over the years.

 Our products used mostly a mix of repurposed and recaptured glass and the renewable Tagua nut. A large portion of the glass we used comes from trashed single pane windows. In addition, we used water based paint instead of lead paint making our products environmentally safe products. Our Tagua products used natural dyes and the nut is collected from the grown.

There are a number of products, such as magnets and nightlights that are assembled in the


After the success of our glass project in 

Ecuador , in 2009, we started working with a new group of artisans in a remote area of Ecuador not known for working with Tagua nut products.

The Tagua nut, which grows primarily in the rainforest of 

Ecuadorand Colombia, is also found along the Amazon Riverthroughout South Americaand is also known as "Vegetable Ivory" due to its high core density and unmistakably white color associating it with real ivory. In fact, in many parts of the world the Tagua nut is used as a substitute of the Elephant and Rhino Ivory. Because the Palm tree that grows the Tagua nut naturally drops the nuts to the ground, no harm is done to the tree.

In 2011, Pampeana Glass Art created Green Living Tree (www.greenlivingtree.com) to identify this unique line using the Tagua nut material. Today, we provide work for over 60 families in 

Ecuadorand 25 families in the USA. We have created sustainable income stream while increasing the number of families who benefit from this project.

We have also created a balance not only to help artisans from 

Ecuador, but also to create work in the USA. Several of our necklaces and bracelets are either assembled or finished in the USA. The design of all products is done in a combined effort from talented designers in Ecuadorand the USA.

If you are a vendor and would like to be considered for a “Green” feature article please contact Tommy Lee Brown at tbrown@stlzoo.org .  All categories of “Green” will be considered so please let us know what your company is doing to help the environment and the world around us.

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