by Renata Evans, Vice President of Retail
Families do much more than just camp at Jellystone Park™. They swim in pools, they ride water slides, they play mini golf, they dance the night away with Yogi Bear™, and they shop. Truth be told, they shop a lot.
That’s why Jellystone Park locations offer guests more than 850 exclusively branded retail items. These items, ranging from Yogi Bear™ plush animals to T-shirts to drinkware, are all custom developed for Jellystone Park franchisees by the Leisure Systems, Inc. retail team.
Plush items are the top-selling category year after year because guests of all ages love Yogi Bear, Boo Boo™, Cindy Bear™ and Ranger Smith™, and stuffed animals always make great souvenirs. The plush figures also act as continual marketing items because each night children snuggle with a Jellystone Park stuffed animal increases the chance that they are going to ask mom or dad, “When are we going to see Yogi Bear again?”
A pic-a-nic basket of extra revenue
In 2020, the average Jellystone Park location generated 9.8% of its revenue from its retail store. In fact, the average consumer spend per site night was $16.91, an increase of 32.5% above 2019. I expect that number to increase even more in 2021 thanks to merchandise line additions and to many locations expanding the size of their Ranger Stations. One of my favorite things is hearing parks say that they’ve outgrown their retail space and need to expand their stores again.
Because retail sales are such a significant component of the Jellystone Park business model and the consumer experience, the LSI retail team partners with Jellystone Park franchisees every step of the way.
This begins with us helping individual parks select their optimal product mix by answering these kinds of questions:
- How many six-inch Yogi Bear plush should I order?
- How many Cindy Bear beanies should be displayed on the floor?
- How many different T-shirt designs should I buy?
- What should be the breakdown between sizes?
We then advise them on how to best merchandise the products to maximize sales. This includes the type of fixtures to use, the size of the apparel section and even where to place the magnet display.
Mapping the “retail trail”
Each Jellystone Park retail store has a unique physical footprint with a slightly different look and feel. It’s our job to help each location maximize its retail potential.
We do so by providing both overarching retail strategy guidance and specific merchandising advice. For example, creating mini departments within a retail store allows more opportunities for customer engagement and leads to increased sales – and more importantly – increased profits.
Our team helps franchisees determine how many mini departments to create and where to place them in a store’s environment. We do so as part of an in-person or virtual retail consultation. We also make sure franchisees always place their traditional camping “necessities” at the back of the store so that when a guest comes in to purchase firewood, ice, or s’mores ingredients, they pass by rows and rows of Yogi Bear merchandise to drive additional impulse souvenir purchases.
Craveable merchandise creates smiles and sales
Of course, the number of mini departments or the placement of merchandise wouldn’t matter if guests didn’t find the actual items fun and compelling. That’s why my team and I devote a significant portion of our time throughout the year to developing new custom products. Each year I attend trade shows, visit other entertainment destinations, and speak with vendors from around the world to stay abreast of the latest fashion trends and industry advancements to best translate today’s consumer desires into tomorrow’s profitable products.
My overall strategy each year is to deliver a well assorted line of good, better and best merchandise so that locations can offer guests quality items at a variety of price points. Our guests primarily come from middle and upper income households (54% of Jellystone Park guests in 2020 reported annual household incomes of $100,000 or more), but we also know that children visiting our parks often save their allowances and birthday/holiday money to buy their own Jellystone Park souvenirs.
I also make sure to balance our annual retail offerings between our core best sellers and entirely new categories and brand-new items to make sure we have great merchandise offerings for guests of every age.
Spending my days developing Yogi Bear™ merchandise is a dream come true, but it does come with some drawbacks. I can’t tell you how many times my lunch has been stolen right out of my office. Maybe I need to stop carrying it in my pic-a-nic basket.
Renata Evans has spent her career leading retail initiatives for iconic brands such as Macy’s, Tommy Hilfiger USA and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts.