Site Manager, Waco Mammoth National Monument
Have long have you been with the site and what all does your job entail?
I’ve worked at Waco Mammoth for 5 1/2 years. As the Site Manager, I am responsible for staffing the site and managing daily operations like public tours and programming, annual budget, marketing and public relations, project management, safety, compliance, resource management, and retail buying and inventory management to name a few. I also work closely with our park partners (City of Waco, Baylor University, Waco Mammoth Foundation, and the National Park Service) to ensure planning and execution of mission-driven priorities, strategies, and goals in the management of this unique partnership park.
How many products do you carry? Is there any sort of storage area or does everything have to be kept on the floor?
As of July 2018, we carry 355 different products or SKUs. We do have a portable building for storage of back stock that’s not climate controlled. We have about 60 square feet of retail space inside our Welcome Center. During the last calendar year, our gift shop generated over $230,000 in revenue. That’s about $3,800 per square foot annually.
That’s a really small sales floor! Do you have any advice for others dealing with space constraints?
Keep your back stock lean! Nothing sells if it’s in storage. This does require more frequent ordering and stocking, but it will pay off in increased sales. And never hesitate to mark down old merchandise to move it out. Keep your margin in mind when marking down items. Find a good margin/good seller to absorb potential loss from marked down merch.
What are your biggest sellers?
Novelty is consistently the best performing category in terms of number of units sold and total revenue. Hat pins, hiking stick medallions, magnets, park tokens, and keychains — if we have a product with a mammoth on it and the same product with a saber-toothed cat, the mammoth outsells the cat four to one. And mammoth themed gift shop items are incredibly difficult to find. We do not carry anything “dinosaur”-related. One of our main educational themes is that mammoths are not dinosaurs. Sales reps regularly try to sell me dinosaur items, but we insist carrying only ice age animals (and dinosaurs were long extinct by then). If a toy company carries mammoth anything, it’s probably in our tiny shop. Otherwise, we rely on customizable items that feature our name or logo.
What do you enjoy most about being part of Waco Mammoth National Monument?
I like visiting with people from all over the world and hearing what they like about our national park system. Most of all, I love seeing kids get excited about science or nature or parks. I was that wide-eyed kid once upon a time, and a visit to a museum and an interaction with a park ranger gave me my enthusiasm for science and guided my career path. If I can pay that forward, then I’ve found success and happiness.