Turtle Central’s Retailer Excellence Award Finalist Journey

Written by  Pam Smith, Director of Retail Operations at Turtle Central

In May of this past year, we were surprised and excited to hear that we had been nominated as a Best Specialty Store finalist for the Retailer Excellence Awards with Gifts and Decorative Accessories of BridgeTower Media, a well-known fixture in the gift shop retailer community.  The application and essay theme this year was about thriving during Covid and strategies of survival during the pandemic. 

Finalists Revealed for 70th Retailer Excellence Awards - Gifts & Decorative Accessories (giftsanddec.com)

I was asked to join a zoom panel discussion on June 10th with other finalists and speak about what innovations helped us stay open during 2020 as well as how we stand out as a specialty store in the gift shop industry.  I was able to share with other retailers about the Conservancy, our mission, and how our wonderful retail team came up with innovative solutions to keep going through the pandemic. They especially loved a video I shared with  them of our beloved sea turtle hatchlings heading to the ocean as part of our “why” we do what we do. 

The award show was held virtually this summer as the 70th Annual Retailer Excellence Awards & Educational Conference “ Together We Retail” on August 3rd. Gifts and Decorative Accessories has been celebrating retail excellence since 1951. During the 70th annual awards, 21 retail nominees and seven retail winners were honored for accomplishing the impossible during a tumultuous year.  Attendees witnessed the best of the best in seven categories: Specialty Store (us), Multiple Locations, Visual Merchandising, Store Events, Store Design, Social Media Outreach and Online Initiatives, and Socially Responsible.   It came down to 3  finalists in the specialties category and a specialty store in Texas, “Things Celtic” ended up winning.  While we didn’t win, we were extremely honored to be chosen as one of 3 applicants selected out of many, many applicants. I am so proud of our amazing team who worked so hard throughout the pandemic to find creative solutions to new challenges, work through evolving business practices, and provided exemplary service to our customers.


In addition to the nomination, I was invited to speak on a panel hosted by Gifts and Decorative Accessories at the Las Vegas Market on August 23. We discussed Covid challenges and protocols as well as strategies for the upcoming fourth quarter.  It was such an honor to be able to attend and share more about the Conservancy and our non-profit gift shop. 

GDA Hosts Retail Panel at Las Vegas Market - Gifts & Decorative Accessories (giftsanddec.com)
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