This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of combined lines of gifts and novelty merchandise, souvenirs, greeting cards, holiday decorations, and miscellaneous small art goods.
Gift, Novelty and Souvenir Stores
The gift, novelty, and souvenir stores industry was highly fragmented, and characterized more by the diversity of products sold than by similarities between individual industry leaders. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 421,000 people were employed by the office supplies, stationery, and gift stores industry in 2003.
Charles Gordon, writing in the Canadian newsmagazine Maclean's, stated "We live in a souvenir society, a world in which everything we do, everywhere we go, has to be commemorated." This attitude has encouraged the growth of gift, novelty, and souvenir shops, which have expanded from limited operations in airports and near tourist destinations into a multimillion dollar industry of its own, with specialty stores opening up in shopping malls and retail centers around the country. Many different kinds of stores, including discounters, drug stores, and supermarkets, sold gifts and novelties. However, specialty retail shops marketing exclusively in gifts and souvenirs had become a distinct billion dollar industry by the mid-1990s.
The Walt Disney Company was the leader in the field of specialty shops. Consumer product revenues were $3 billion in 1999, a 5 percent drop from 1998, due to declines in worldwide merchandise licensing and sales from the Disney Stores. Declines were partially offset by increases at Disney Interactive, which comprises Disney's software and publishing operations. While this downward trend reflects a move toward online merchandising, Disney pledged in 2000 to invest up to $750,000 to revamp its 715 retail stores worldwide in an effort to reverse the profit slump. In 2004, retailer The Children's Place bought Disney's retail division.
Other leaders in this field included Spencer Gifts Inc., Cracker Barrel, Marriott Hotel Shops, Matthews Inc., Spains Gifts, Museum Shop, and South of the Border Shops. These stores were located in shopping centers, near tourist destinations such as monuments or resorts, and in museums, zoos, restaurants, hotels, and airports. According to Ward's Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies, other industry leaders were Miami...