Time to Connect!

July 10, 2017

By Donna McNett

Recently, out of the clear blue, a vendor emailed me for MSA membership advice. Surprisingly, she actually found me through an MSA blog. She is an artist/craftsman and her work is beautiful — at least what I could tell from the photos she attached. Her sales have been successful but only with one particular museum store — and they have re-ordered from her three times within the last six weeks. The issue is…. she is having a very difficult time getting in the door with other museum stores and wanted to know if joining MSA would make a difference. Should she take the plunge and join?

Even though I am a vendor member of MSA, I’m still relatively new to all of this.  I could easily identify with the difficulty in getting museum store buyers to take a look at your products. You might have tremendous success with one buyer — which makes it hard to understand why you’re invisible to others. Pittsburgh was only my second MSA conference so I was scratching my head a bit as to what I might say to encourage her.  When I joined MSA I didn’t really know what to expect and was concerned whether my small company could justify all the expenses; not just the membership but the show booth plus all the travel expenses.

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What I Learned – and Remembered – in Pittsburgh ….

May 15, 2017

By David Duddy

When I imagined writing a blog post about Pittsburgh, I thought of all the great take-aways: from session topics and presentations, from side conversations and cocktail chat, from panel discussions and sharing groups.

At my museum, we are migrating our store web page to Shopify – a session targeting that was incredibly informative. I learned about the necessity for real leadership from the keynote speech with Mike Tougias. I led a discussion group and learned TONS (and made a useful connection —  and a pal!) about training guards as a part of the education program. I realized that we needed to start pre-selling admission tickets online (duh!) to speed things up at the front desk. I learned that I am WAY behind the curve when it comes to the whole world of Amazon – and I better get up to speed! The closing keynote with Louis Roden was a revved-up reminder of the vital need for VITALITY (see what I did there?) in performing the best customer service each day.

And don’t get me started about the potential for 4 new product development projects and the three new vendors I bought from. It is amazing the value that I experience at every conference – and I have been attending almost yearly since 1995.

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The Success of Power: A Case Study on a Successful Exhibition

March 27, 2017

By Michael Silverman

What does success look like for your museum? Is it setting and attaining a sales goal, increasing store traffic, selling out inventory, all of the above?

At the Oakland Museum of California, it looks like our fall exhibition, “All Power to the People: The Black Panthers at 50.”

The Black Panther Party was formed in Oakland in 1966 by Bobby Seale, who immediately recruited the charismatic, yet highly confrontational Huey Newton. Most often recognized by their black leather jackets and signature berets, the Panthers fought to put a voice to the struggle against oppression for all people, particularly afflicting people of color in inner city ghettos.

The institutional priorities for the Oakland Museum of California are to strike a balance between financial sustainability and social impact, and on all fronts the exhibition delivered. By the time the exhibition came to a close, the museum experienced record-setting attendance and unprecedented media coverage, and, in the store, single-day sales records were shattered on multiple occasions.

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MSA Vendors Are Superior

March 20, 2017

By Blue Anderson

MSA vendors are superior. I doubt I’ll get much pushback on that statement from this MSA-loving readership. But, there is nothing like a cold-call from a non-member rep to make you wish all of your vendors were MSA Superior.

An unknown, but seasoned, sales pro stopped by my store on her way to another account, afterward sending me an email saying she had the perfect garment lines for us and asking if I had time to see her in the afternoon. Being a decent buyer, I checked out her wares online, and although one company was pedestrian beachwear, her secondary line caught my eye: mid-priced, waterproof rainwear. “Hmm,” I thought, “I’m building a ’Survival’ store for a spring opening, and that may just fit the ticket.” I emailed her back and said, “Please stop by and I’ll take a look at the Mossy Tech merchandise.”

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How Special Events Can Enhance Your Museum Store

January 9, 2017

By Audrie Cuddy Ranon

To hold the title of Museum Store Manager, we must be extremely flexible and skilled at wearing many hats. I don’t mean as a fashion statement, but, rather, as a metaphor to explain that it is a highly specialized position with lots of moving parts.

And move we do! We are responsible for the general management of the store; we plan inventory; and usually, we are the skilled buyers, trendsetting visual merchandisers, keen product developers, PR and marketing gurus, POS system experts, policy and procedures enforcers, keepers of the schedules, providers of the best visitor experience, contributors to the museum’s revenue stream, and so on and so on. As I said, there are lots of moving parts, and it is up to us to make those parts move effortlessly.

Now, how can we possibly do all of this and attract attention to the store and spur sales?

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Fair Trade – A Way of Life


September 26, 2016

Many museum stores offer a selection of Fair Trade products and proudly display the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) logo to communicate that the products are fairly traded. There is a ‘feel good’ factor associated with these items resulting in increased sales due to ‘emotional’ purchases – a direct response to the connection made between Fair Trade and quality merchandise. However, do you or your customers really know what it means for a company to be committed to Fair Trade practices? Knowledge of this commitment can do a world of good and at the same time, further increase your store sales.
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5 Steps to Master the Art of the Everyday Deal

May 30, 2016

When you ask most people what was the last deal they negotiated, they’ll probably tell you it was buying a car.  And certainly there will be a horror story to go along with it.  No doubt, it involved some extended back-and-forth with the salesman and sales manager ending in an outcome.

But when you think about it most of us negotiate every day.  Each of us negotiates in business and in life.  You negotiate when asking for a raise, when purchasing a home or car, when hiring a new employee or when dealing with a supplier. So it couldn’t hurt to get few more ideas on how to master the art of the everyday deal. Read more

Youth Friends Friendship Technology Together Concept

What’s in Store For Stores

May 23, 2016

If you read trade journals and newspapers, you start to get the feeling the future of retail may be dramatically shaped by two things: technology and the Millennials.  If Walgreens is now located at the corner of Happy and Healthy, then future retail will soon live at the corner of Technology and Millennial. It pretty apparent that technology and Millennials go hand-in-hand.

Okay, I know, yet another blog musing on the affect Millennials may have on the future, but stick with me on this.  So far, many of the predictions made about the Millennial’s impact have been surprisingly accurate. Read more

Group Of Multi-Ethnic Group Of Business People Holding Placards Forming Customer

Managing Your Customer’s Experience

May 16, 2016

If you Google “customer experience” you’ll be surprised by the number of hits you get labeled customer experience management.  Who knew your customer’s experience needed to be managed?

It wasn’t that long ago that you simply put merchandise on the counter, turned on the lights, opened the doors and… voilà, instant customer experience.  Oh sure, somebody would throw in some clever visual merchandising to spice things up, but in the end the customer’s experience was pretty much unmanaged. Read more


Technologies That Will Shape the Future

May 9, 2016

If you’re regular reader of this blog, you know we like to try to guess the future of retail. Of course no one can predict the future, but that’s never stopped us from trying. A recent article on the Chain Store Age website, Study: Three Technologies That Will Shape Retail and One That Won’t, took a look at a study that tries to predict the future of retail for the next 10 years.

Of course the study was conducted by Ovum, a technology company commissioned by Criteo, which is also a technology marketing company, so it focused only on technology.   Included in the study was Hyper-Connectivity, Wearables, Augmented Reality, and 3-D printing. Read more