Business Overview

As the owner of a souvenir shop, you’ll stock your retail store, cart or kiosk with inventory of interest to tourists. Your offerings will reflect the demographics and socioeconomic strata of the market. For instance, if you’re at a vacation destination that draws young families, you might stock novelty trinkets, toys, t-shirts, candy, and gum. However, if you’ll attract more sophisticated travelers, you might sell pricier jewelry with a local slant -- ie, designed with stones or gems found in the region.

Who is this business right for?

You can succeed if you know your market. You must be able to match inventory with the needs of vacationers and at an affordable price point.

What happens during a typical day at a souvenir shop?

Your typical workday could consist of a range of activities, including the following:

  • Opening and preparing your location for customer traffic
  • Scheduling and supervising staff, if you have any
  • Waiting on customers and helping them find appropriate souvenirs
  • Handling vendors, arranging credit relationships, and ordering merchandise
  • Keeping your store clean and merchandise appealingly displayed
  • Networking with other sellers in your area, so they keep you in mind if customers ask for merchandise they don’t carry -- and you’ll do the same for your neighboring sellers
  • Staying in contact with landlords, local officials, and others who can impact your business operation
  • Paying bills, maintaining financial records, and managing cash flow

What is the target market?

If you’ve anchored your business in the right location and stocked your store with appropriate inventory, your customers will find merchandise they’ll want to remember their travels by. Vacationers are primed to spend premium rates while away from home because they consider it to be part of the experience. They’re sentimental impulse buyers looking for souvenirs that will connect them with their travels. Or perhaps they’re looking for small gifts for family members, friends, or co-workers who didn’t come along. Either way, they’re motivated to spend.

How does a souvenir shop make money?

Your sole route to profitability is to sell merchandise to enough people at costs that cover your rent, staffing, inventory and miscellaneous costs and yield an appropriate profit. You’ll have an advantage over conventional retailers in that you can stock your location with items they wouldn’t have necessarily bought under any other circumstance. For instance, an inexpensive keychain with the name of the travel destination is of value only at that point in time. Similarly, you won’t compete with the Internet, since the purchase is location-inspired.

What is the growth potential for a souvenir shop?

You’ll have fewer worries when the economy is humming and people are traveling (and spending). However, people vacation even in bad times, though they’ll stick closer to home and spend less on souvenirs. You can respond to the realities of the marketplace by adjusting your inventory to sell less pricey goods when budgets are tight.