August 14, 2017
By Kristen Daniels
I like to think of a successful sales transaction as a win, win, win, win situation. The first winner is the producer, the second is the wholesaler (who is sometimes also the producer), the third is the retail store, and the final winner is the store visitor, who purchases the product. When everybody wins, everybody’s happy!
Because of our commitment to museum visitors and each other, MSA vendor and buyer members are in a unique position to help one another rack up wins. Even though working well together takes time, effort, and communication, I was pleased by the willingness of so many members of this community to send in their questions, comments and advice when David Graveen (Popcorn Custom Products) and I asked for suggested topics we could cover in our MSA conference session in Pittsburgh on buyers and vendors working well together. It is clear that we all want to talk to each other and find ways to work together in a way that will help the wins become easier and more plentiful.
When I sent in my proposal for the conference session, I hoped that the session would be the beginning of a longer conversation that all MSA members could be a part of. I envisioned an online group where buyers and vendors could share information and learn from each other in the same way that museum store buyers help each other every day using Shoptalk. I was happy to find that our fabulous MSA board members are supportive of this idea, and thus, the “Buyer Vendor Friendly Forum” is now a reality and will start one week from today on August 21!
In order to keep this forum focused in a way that I hope will benefit all, I will be presenting a “Topic of the Week” every Monday morning, which will then be open for discussion until a new topic starts the following Monday. A schedule of topics will be posted as a PDF file to the group and will list the next 8 weeks of topics. Every four weeks, I’ll update the topic list with 4 new topics so that everybody knows what’s in the pipeline.
Topics will come from ideas that members suggested before this year’s conference session and ideas that members can e-mail me anytime. The goal will be to keep everyone on-topic each week as much as possible so that nobody gets overwhelmed with too much information at once. I’ll gently remind people who get off-topic to be patient until the topic that they are excited about comes up during a later week. If that topic is not already on the schedule, I’ll add it to the list and before we all know it, that topic will be up for discussion.
I’d also like this forum to have several weeks a year set aside where vendors can pitch their products to buyers, and post MSA-only discounts. I think the best time to do this will be the first week at the start of each quarter. In order to keep it as easy to digest as possible, we might do something like assign a different day of the week to each kind of product. For example, on Monday the booksellers would pitch their products and discounts, the next day jewelry makers, the next day custom products, etc. I haven’t worked out all of the details yet and will be asking for your input once I have an outline of a plan to share, but the order in which products are posted would initially be chosen randomly and would cycle through so that every product type would eventually be the first topic discussed, and also the last topic discussed. Shoptalk, which does not allow unsolicited product pitches from vendors, would of course remain a platform where buyers will continue to ask for product suggestions on any day they choose.
You can sign up for the Buyer-Vendor Friendly Forum two ways. The first is to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you to the group and confirm that you have been added.
You can also sign yourself up on the MSA website using the instructions below:
- Log onto the MSA website
- Log onto the “Shoptalk/Member Directory” section of the website, found to the left of the red Donate button at the top of the page if you’re not automatically logged in already.
- On the purple task bar, put your cursor on the word GROUPS and then Click on “All Groups” (or click on All Groups in the gray bar under the purple task bar.)
- Click on “MSA Buyer-Vendor Friendly Forum”
- On the top right side of the copy box that appears you will see an arrow next to the words “Join Now” – click on this
- Choose how you would like your e-mail address and your visibility to appear
- Click on Join at the bottom of the box
Many thanks in advance to all who join! I feel confident that this forum will not only help MSA buyer and vendor members gain a better insight into how we can best work together, but it will leave us all with an even bigger feeling of community and many, many more wins!
Kristen Daniels and her husband Chris are the creative force behind the string doll company, Kamibashi. Kamibashi is a member of MSA and the Fair Trade Federation and is dedicated to quality, and just as importantly, to paying their artists well for their hard work.