Museum Store Sunday: A Message from the MSA Board of Directors

December 11, 2017

By Ione Saroyan and the 2017-18 MSA Board of Directors

Museum Store Sunday. It is a reality. We did it – we all did it. I’m just going to put that right there and invite you all to bask in it for a moment. We announced it in late April at the MSA Forward 2017 in Pittsburgh. And in less than seven months, it launched in a spectacular way. This bright, creative, diligent, resourceful community of Museum Store Association members and partners succeeded in launching a global initiative. We succeeded in putting a spotlight on Museum Stores right smack in the middle of the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Congratulations to all of us!

For me, Museum Store Sunday (MSS) existed on multiple plains. First and foremost, as one of the pillars of MSA’s strategic plan: advocacy. “To communicate to the world the value and importance of non-profit retail with its curated products and unique experiences.” Within my own institution, this was a struggle at times. For example, I had to persuade my museum’s brand guardians to allow my promotions to go forward without changing the color of the MSS brand. Second, as a volunteer on the MSS Outreach Committee – I wrote letters and made phone calls, and experienced the thrill of the success of my efforts each time the MSS store locator was updated. Finally, as a museum store retailer, I offered special discounts to museum members and the general public, a free gift with purchase, and raffled off prizes including a museum membership. I am delighted to say that we had a fantastic day, with a 212% increase over the previous Sunday, and a 334% increase over the Sunday of the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend. And it was so exciting to read and watch the great press that came in from all over!

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By the Numbers

August 8, 2016

As museum store professionals, we are always concerned with the age-old question, how am I doing? While there are several ways to approach a real answer to that question, the purpose of this article is to discuss Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). The most recent edition of the Museum Store Association Retail Industry Report offers some great comparatives on many financial categories. This is a great place to start, as you determine exactly where you stand.
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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

Close-up view on conceptual keyboard - Payment (green key)

Pay It Forward

April 25, 2016

Remember the old days when the cash register was literally a work of art?  Those old monsters that were made by National Cash Register and a few other companies.  Many of these devices were lovingly cast in bronze, while others in plated in brilliant nickel.  They came adorned with flowers, filigree’s, and even characters like cherubs.  For most retail establishments, they were the star attraction planted proudly at the front of the store.

Despite their size, some were nearly three feet tall, they didn’t really do much. As late as the 1970s, many cash registers did little more than record a sale. They didn’t even add and they certainly didn’t help manage the inventory.  Yet, for all their shortcomings they were the anchor of the store. When you saw them in all their glory you knew exactly where to pay and where to find a sales person.  Read more

heap of dollars and coins money

The Perils of Pricing

April 4, 2016

Boutique grocer, Trader Joe’s recently reported that they would be reducing prices.  This is in response to a new pricing strategy announced by Whole Foods… or as they are sometimes referred to – Whole Paycheck.  While Whole Foods has thrived over the years despite their reputation as being the pricey alternative, even they aren’t immune to the risks they face by losing price-sensitive shoppers.

In retail, correctly pricing the items in your store is both the key to your profit, and probably your biggest minefield.  Obviously, you have to set a price with enough margin to cover your operating expenses and hopefully show a profit at the end of the year.  But if you price too high, you’ll be babysitting the items on your shelves for a long time. Read more


10 Ideas You Should Steal

January 25, 2016

In 1970, the King of the counterculture, Abbie Hoffman, wrote, Steal This Book. It was a guide to survival in time of change. It’s now 2016 and times are a changing. It’s time to steal some ideas.

Every industry has unique ways of doing business. Many of these ideas translate well to the retail business. So here are a few ideas that you can steal to help your store survive in the ever-changing world of noprofit retail. Read more

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Looking Back and Ahead

December 28, 2015

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is quickly sliding into our rear-view mirrors. In many ways, it was yet another year of retail as usual. I’m sure for many museum stores the end of the year looks much like the beginning of the year.  Some stores within museums and institutions can be somewhat protected from seasonal changes with their business rising and falling based on the strength of the attendance of their institutions.

But as we peek around the corner at the new year some of that insulation may wear thin. Every facet of larger institutions could come under review if budgets get tight or if existing business and operating models are overhauled.

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trees growing on coins

Donating Unwanted Inventory Can Yield Tax Advantages

January 26, 2015
Most companies seem to have excessive pallets of merchandise that is either overstock or past dated. It’s taking up space that could be better used and benefit others.

There is an easy way to rid your organization of that unwanted stock and reap the benefits on many levels. Product philanthropy is aimed at C Corporations yet many of them have never even heard of this section of the tax code.

According to IRC Section 170(e) (3), when C Corps donate their inventory to qualified nonprofits, they can receive a federal tax deduction equal to up to twice the cost of the donated products. Read more