In a League of Her Own: Cinema Scene’s Lacey Gruenebaum thrives on movie collectibles

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“We are lucky to be able to develop innovative ideas from actual concession vessels or even add digital marketing elements,” says Lacey Gruenebaum, sales manager, East Coast, for Cinema Scene Marketing, a Vision Media company. Lacey has served the cinema channel for nearly ten years, earning her distinguished reputation by assisting theatre owners and managers with studio promotions and premium vessels.

Cinema executives all over the U.S. will testify that Cinema Scene has created another revenue stream for concession operations, and Lacey has emerged as a leader on that front. She has the enviable position of marketing studio film souvenirs, collectibles and vessels to theatre owners, who then pass them on to millions of moviegoers. She helps shape the cinematic experience by providing tangible keepsakes for patrons to enhance the visions onscreen via their personal ownership of toppers, cups, tins and toys.

Lacey was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and has remained rooted in the community. She attended Blue Valley North High School and earned her B.A. degree in Communications from Baker University. She was a cheerleader and served as the captain. She credits her parents as her role models: “My parents helped my sister and I develop a moral compass and exposed us to many different experiences. Even today I lean on their words of wisdom as I guide a family of my own.” She continues to remember the family trips to Disney World as most memorable and binding—so much so, she has already taken her young son, not yet two, twice.

After graduation, Lacey accepted her first real job in sales. “I sold radio air time at a classic rock station in Kansas City—101 The FOX, Home of the Chiefs!” she reports. This could explain why she excels in her responsibilities. “Radio sales was extremely difficult, with zero customer list; the phone book was the standard in finding clients. Cold calls were not well received.”

Imagine trying to “convince a human being with no emotional connection to purchase something they perceive as unnecessary.” That was her challenge every day. “Although this business was cutthroat, and 100-percent commission-based, this experience made me the salesperson I am today. I once ate raw quail eggs at a business meeting to earn the business.” That illustrates how determined she can be.        

Her world has always been competitive in nature. Lacey married a highly successful goal-tender in Major League Soccer, Andy Gruenebaum. Andy was the goal-tender for the Columbus Crew, MLS Champions, and was fortunate to play with the Sporting Kansas City Soccer Club. (He has recently retired.) Lacey, while working in sales, shares the notion of what winning and losing looks like, fully aware of the team concept and the energy it takes to be prepared when walking on the field of business.

Gruenebaum’s father Bruce Sims happens to be a principal at Cinema Scene, but her invitation to join the Cinema Scene “family” was not quite as simple as it might appear. “My intentions never included working for Cinema Scene,” she explains. “However, timing is everything in life, and as I transitioned from selling radio air time to the fundraising industry, I was searching for something more. Basically, I had a choice: keep working in an industry I was not passionate about or invest in something I perceived to be special. This industry has always intrigued me.”

After a relentless interview process and certain scrutiny, she was welcomed into the Cinema Scene family. “I think most people think I just ‘joined the family business.’ This could not be further from the truth,” she clarifies. “There was a lot of hesitation on both parts. I had to interview with every single person at the company and everyone had to weigh in before I was hired.” Once again, this represents her drive and determination to win the sale! Cinema Scene became her passion and her professional family. 

As the East Coast sales manager, Lacey has seen significant changes in the way cinemas do business. She regards the greatest challenge for the cinema food and beverage component as keeping things flowing. “This industry is changing so quickly, the most important thing is to remain fluid,” she confides. “Every day is a new opportunity, you just have to find it and offer it to your customers. Cinema Scene is challenged every day to stay in the forefront of the digital and concession world. As a marketing agency, our clients depend on us to be creative, innovative and driven; we do our best to bring all of these elements to everyone.”

Gruenebaum considers her opportunities unique, since she offers a variety of paths to the concession offerings that can influence the purchasing habits of theatre patrons. She attributes her good fortune to listening to buyers and helping them develop products that make them successful. “In the end, if your clients succeed, then so do you,” she contends. She also says that she is surrounded by people whose brains are always in motion. “I have to stay on my toes!”

Fully vested in the cinema channel, Lacey and her family spend countless hours in theatre auditoriums watching their favorite films and enjoying her favorite movie snack, popcorn. She admires Julia Roberts as her favorite screen actress, and loves the movie A League of their Own. Her favorite book: Gone Girl. She enjoys cross-fitting in her leisure time as well as spending time with her husband and son Gibson. “We love a good baseball game or attending an MLS soccer game.” And while she travels constantly, she hopes to visit Greece in the future.