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  • 1.  Merchandising Tips

    Posted 04-26-2019 08:03 AM

    What works for you?

    I'm open to any and all Gift Store merchandising tips!

    • Top-selling product types?
    • How open or tightly packed?
    • Effective lighting and signage?
    • Should all inventory fit museum theme?
    • How many of the same item should be on display?

    Gift Store Merchandising Tips

    Jed Reitler
    Boston MA

  • 2.  RE: Merchandising Tips

    Posted 04-30-2019 03:57 PM
    An interesting push-pull I've seen is about branded merchandise - it may not sell well, but if you don't have some, there are customers who will be distracted by that. Visitors expect to at least see a coffee mug and a tote bag, even if they aren't going to buy one, and if they don't see those, may think that there's something wrong with the gift shop. Rather than have them follow that negative distraction, if you find that branded merchandise doesn't sell well, think of it as a necessary display piece instead of deadweight!

    Mamiko Carroll
    Public Information Officer
    Hawaii State Art Museum
    Honolulu HI

  • 3.  RE: Merchandising Tips

    Posted 05-01-2019 09:33 AM
    There are a few different categories here. "Should all inventory fit museum theme" has tax consequences, in addition to aesthetic and retail concerns. As for branded merchandise, people need a reason to buy beyond the fact that your name is on it. If the tote bag is beautiful/intriguing/informative and at the right price point, they'll buy. Unless you're MOMA or the Louvre, the branding should be subsidiary to the design.
    Always have a variety of under $10 items, that's where your volume will likely come from.

    Susan Goganian
    Historic Beverly
    Beverly MA

  • 4.  RE: Merchandising Tips

    Posted 05-02-2019 11:13 AM
    Let me second what Susan said about your selection of merchandise - it must be in line with your museum's mission to avoid ​unrelated business income taxes (UBIT) and you want to avoid those!  That said, think creatively about what that really means.  I was in a session once where the store manager of an aquarium located on a beach said that their best selling items were flip-flops!  It worked for them because we are allowed to sell items for visitors convenience (water, snacks, film for cameras in the days before cell phones) and because it was related to their mission.  At my institution, because were are both an archeological and natural history preserve, we sell native wildflower seed and have turned non-native trees that we have cleared during the restoration of our prairie into firewood sold through our store.

    We have learned that lighting is a key element.  The original lighting built into our store was sparse and dim.  Improved lighting improved interest in the store.  Regularly altering your displays to highlight different items is important, even if your basic inventory remains the same.  From your photograph, it appears that you sell a lot of books (most of us do).  Those displayed facing the shoppers will almost always sell better than those displayed library style with only their spines showing.  As Susan suggested, do not neglect a variety of lower priced items.  During the recession that began in 2009, those items kept our museum store in the black.  Best of luck with your retail adventure!

    Deborah Bigness
    Manager of Site Operations, Lubbock Lake National Historic Landmark
    Museum of Texas Tech University
    Lubbock TX

  • 5.  RE: Merchandising Tips

    Posted 05-03-2019 06:10 PM
    The Museum Store Association, an affiliate of AAM is a great resource for non-profit retail information and advice I strongly recommend joining MSA as an institution member.
    Stuart Hata
    Director of Retail Operations

    Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco - de Young & Legion of Honor
    50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118
    p 415.750.3511, f 415.750.2681

  • 6.  RE: Merchandising Tips

    Posted 05-06-2019 09:25 AM
    Oh my, this is such a great discussion topic!! At our store, it's very small, and unfortunately not well lit. I do agree it's important to change up displays and i understand why that's such a hot topic piece of advice, but I think it's less pertinent in museum stores. My reasoning is simply that almost none of your visitors are repeat shoppers, so the displays are always "new" to them. (I say this while advising it's still a good idea to freshen them up at least 2x a year) I think price point, selection, and demographics are key. When I began as the store manager, I expected the kids section to be one of the top sections that I'd continually be expanding and buying for. However, the kids is not a top demographic for us. Even when school groups come through they rarely have enough time to allow the kids to shop. Our top demographic is generation X and 65% women. This information really influences my buying and merchandising.
    A question I have is how do you determine whether a type/category of product should or could be expanded? Like when do you decide you need a new key chain, or there's enough demand if you want to create a new magnet? Or you sell a couple ornaments, but let's get a new one? Any tips one when and how to make those decisions before investing in a new product with a high minimum and set ups fees?

    Natalie Carey
    Museum Shop Manager
    Stonewall Jackson House
    Lexington VA