Gift Cards: The Perfect Teacher Gift

Josie Leavitt - May 24, 2016

As we head into the final weeks of school here in Vermont, the end of year teacher gift becomes something customers start to agonize about. Often families want to acknowledge the very hard work teachers have done all year for their kids, but find that they don’t really know what the classroom teachers might enjoy when it comes to an actual book. People often feel that getting a gift card is a sign of gift-giving defeat, but it’s not. It’s giving someone free reign to get whatever they want, and for most teachers this means getting something for the classroom. 
It is widely reported that gift cards usually have under a 40% redemption rate, but I find at my store that number is closer to 96%, so I feel very comfortable suggesting gift cards as the perfect gift. Teachers work very hard all year and while homemade cookies are lovely, they are fleeting at best. We have put out on our signboard: Teachers love gift cards. It’s a simple statement that reminds customers to think about the teachers in their lives. It also sends the message that not only do we have what teachers really want, but that it’s totally okay to get gift cards.
What I love the most about teachers getting gift cards to our store is that often it introduces a teacher to us. While we are surrounded by schools, not every teacher has actually shopped at the store. So by suggesting gift cards we are helping to close the loop of shopping locally. Parents support the teachers in lives by supporting us, and then the teachers come in and see what a great store we are. It’s all about relationship building. Once we get a teacher in the store, we get a lifelong customer. Everyone on staff is so good about talking about the range of books we carry, and offering curricular help, that teachers realize we’re more than a store, we’re educational partners with them. We can help them be better teachers by knowing our stock, what’s coming out, and knowing what the educational units the local schools cover and having books in stock that meet those goals.
What I enjoy the most about the end-of-year gift cards is how they get redeemed. Some teachers come in immediately with literally stacks of gift cards smiling ear to ear, to stock up on their own books for pleasure reading. Others wait till they’re setting up their classrooms in the summer to start getting interesting books for the school year. And the last group of teachers use their gift cards during the holidays to get family presents.
It is a great win-win for all involved with the end of year teacher gift-giving. So, don’t forget the teachers in your life and hie on down to your local bookstore and get them a gift card as thanks.

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