March 2018 / Industry Profile

Don’t sweat the small stuff? Michelle Dulaney does because she knows every decision she makes as store director, even seemingly small ones, will have an effect on the world we and animals live in.  
Peer Perspective: Michelle Dulaney, Woodland Park Zoo

Michelle Dulaney

Director, ZooStore at Woodland Park Zoo


How long have you been in current position and what are your responsibilities?

Going on about three years at Woodland Park Zoo, but I’ve been a store director for about seven years now. As a director, I oversee operations, inventory, product merchandising, coordinate with buyers, events and various teams within the zoo to maximize opportunities that speak to guest demographics, as well as, primary initiatives and conservation for the zoo. I hire the staff, monitor our budget goals and spending, write the schedules, while always looking for ways to improve and enhance the shopping experience for our guests.

What is the most challenging thing about your job and have you found any advice or strategies to be helpful in dealing with it?

I’d say the most challenging part is timing and coordination. In a facility this large, with so many various departments in charge of everything from compost and plants to education, events and marketing it can be very difficult to get all the many aspects of any initiative coordinated. Many, many emails and meetings help to get the proper outlook from each department so we can create a product story that really speaks to whatever initiative we are working on.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The message is by far the most important aspect. I love that the small decisions that are made each day help support something greater than myself. By partnering with the Snow Leopard Trust, we helped to get that species taken off the endangered list last year. On a smaller scale, we also try to help set the standard for our industry in green initiatives. We are working with our vendors to eliminate plastic wherever possible in packaging, and with our efforts so far we are saving over 325 pounds or 7,750 plastic water bottles over the next 12 months. We’re continuing to transition to sustainable clothing options and even creating sustainable plush. Being able to put that message out there with the product really gives me pride in what I do.

Are you a member of any professional organizations?

Currently, no, but I have been part of various women’s entrepreneurial organizations through the years.

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, Michigan 49345
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