Mu­se­ums get their own day for shop­pers

Sec­ond an­nual event aims to at­tract cus­tomers to gift shops across coun­try

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

Hol­i­day shop­pers know about Black Fri­day, Small Busi­ness Satur­day and Cy­ber Mon­day. Now, mu­seum stores in the Bal­ti­more area and else­where want a day of their own.

Shops at­tached to art and his­tory mu­se­ums, botan­i­cal gardens, science cen­ters, zoos and other cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions will en­cour­age peo­ple to visit on Sun­day as part of “Mu­seum Store Sun­day.”

The idea came about more than two years ago when the Mu­seum Store As­so­ci­a­tion wanted to pub­li­cize the stores’ of­fer­ings dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. The mu­seum shop event, un­der­way on the Sun­day after Thanks­giv­ing for the sec­ond year in a row, aims to re­mind con­sumers they can sup­port the at­trac­tions’ mis­sions and op­er­a­tions while snag­ging unique gifts.

“No one had claimed Sun­days,” said Alice McAuliffe, man­ager of re­tail op­er­a­tions for The Wal­ters Art Mu­seum in Bal­ti­more and a for­mer as­so­ci­a­tion board mem­ber. “Dur­ing the hol­i­days, mu­seum stores have great unique mer­chan­dise that you can’t al­ways find other places. … It’s just a way of say­ing, ‘Hey, sup­port your mu­se­ums in your ar­eas.’ ”

This year, more than 1,000 mu­seum stores in all 50 states and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and 13 coun­tries will join in, with most of­fer­ing spe­cials such as dis­counts of 25 per­cent on a range of items — books, jewelry, home ac­ces­sories — most cu­rated to re­flect the par­tic­u­lar in­sti­tu­tion.

In the Bal­ti­more area, the Wal­ters, His­toric Ships in Bal­ti­more, Mary­land His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, Lau­rel His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, His­toric An­napo­lis Mu­seum Store and An­napo­lis Mar­itime Mu­seum are par­tic­i­pat­ing. Other well-known mu­se­ums in­clude The Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art and the Guggen­heim in New York, the San Fran­cisco Art Mu­seum and the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery and the Na­tional Build­ing Mu­seum in Wash­ing­ton.

Sales at the Wal­ters’ shop dou­bled last year on the Sun­day after Thanks­giv­ing, com­pared with that Sun­day in 2016, McAuliffe said. The shop plans to of­fer dis­counts of 20 per­cent for mu­seum mem­bers and 10 per­cent for non-mem­bers. The boost in traf­fic also led to in­creases in mu­seum mem­ber­ships, she said.

“They not only came to shop, they came for the mu­seum,” she said. “Part of the mis­sion was to pro­mote the mu­seum over­all.”

At the Wal­ters’ shop, cus­tomers can choose from chil­dren’s art ac­tiv­ity kits and books, wool scarves from Ire­land, books on art, artists and art move­ments and travel, mer­chan­dise such as sushi sets re­lated to a Ja­pa­nese print ex­hibit and other items.

Dur­ing the event’s in­au­gu­ral year, which fea­tured 700 mu­se­ums in 10 coun­tries, stores av­er­aged a more than 30 per­cent jump in vis­i­tors and a more than 60 per­cent in­crease in net sales, com­pared with the Sun­day after Thanks­giv­ing of the pre­vi­ous year, ac­cord­ing to the mu­seum as­so­ci­a­tion. Mu­se­ums ben­e­fited too, with a 37 per­cent boost in vis­i­tors, said the group, which rep­re­sents mu­seum store buy­ers and man­agers.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t re­al­ize all the prof­its in our mu­seum stores go back to sup­port the pro­grams and op­er­a­tions” of the mu­se­ums, said Su­san Tu­dor, the as­so­ci­a­tion’s first vice pres­i­dent and a man­ager and buyer for the Cum­mer Mu­seum in Jack­sonville, Fla.

Tu­dor ex­pects the mu­seum store move­ment to catch on and grow. The U.S. group has back­ing from the United King­dom’s As­so­ci­a­tion for Cul­tural En­ter­prises and the Mu­seum Shops As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

“There’s more in­ter­est in pur­chas­ing items that have longevity, that have qual­ity, that are unique,” Tu­dor said. “Mu­seum stores are known for that. This is a re­minder to go back into the mu­se­ums and shop there.”

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