Member Dispatches from the Front Lines: The Making of a Virtual Museum Store Sunday
Karen McNeely, Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum, including the store, reopened to the public in July -- but it certainly wasn’t business as usual. Like most museums, we took precautions: limiting capacities by utilizing timed ticketing, designating a one-way path through the building, and utilizing lots of hand sanitizer, masks, and Plexiglas!
Since we are unable to bring in huge crowds and fill our galleria with trunk show vendors, how would we make Museum Store Sunday work? Our answer? Take it Virtual!!
To make it work, we knew we needed to offer exciting products that we didn’t have to bring into inventory and find ways to bring visitors to our event. We knew we could count on MSA vendors to partner with us to offer drop-shipping to the customer’s home, create engaging videos, and offer prizes for register-to-win opportunities -- hoping to draw visitors into our shopping pages.
Kudos to Carole, Tammi, and Mary Lind -- and many other MSA vendors -- for taking a chance and supporting the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Virtual Museum Store Sunday. I know, because of their help, it will be a great success!
The virtual event will go live here about 5 pm central Wednesday November 25 for a sneak peek at the vendor videos. I’m not eligible to win the drawing prizes, but all of you are! To preview the trunk show offerings now click here.
Carole Amper, Toucan Hats
Just as the Digital NY NOW Show was drawing to a close, I was contacted by Karen from the Milwaukee Art Museum regarding Toucan’s drop ship program. Enthusiastically, she started telling me about her plan to create a virtual event for Museum Store Sunday. She drew me in with her excitement.
Together, we curated a group of Winter Hats which are focused, casual, yet interesting. Karen thought it would enhance the show if there were a video to feature the products, as well as illustrate the creative process. What came to mind was a slideshow presentation that I gave at the MSA Southeast Regional Conference last Fall.
Doing business during a pandemic requires a whole new canvas, a different vision, and an enhanced skill set. Since it wasn’t feasible to shoot new video footage, we needed to make the slideshow photos come alive in a video format.
The video takes you on a virtual tour of our studio with century old hat pressing machines and hand trim departments. It flashes through projects that we have created for various museum shops that pair our hats with objects from their collections. Thanks to Karen's guidance, we were able to shift the target audience to the consumer, and present the products accordingly. This was truly a learning process, and I am very pleased with the results.
In the spirit of Museum Store Sunday, Toucan Hats is glad to participate in this collaborative effort. I hope that this year's event will be a huge success for the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Tammi Cooper, Destination PSP
Milwaukee Art Museum reached out and asked us for our support of virtual Museum Store Sunday and we OBVIOUSLY couldn’t refuse! Our creative team here at Destination PSP went to work immediately and put together a short (cheeky) video that showcased our unique, colorful and fun mid-century modern product line inspired by Atomic and Space Age design elements. We tell the story of how we transform our iconic Palm Springs architecture into the products we create. Our “claim to fame” are 6 styles of house tissues boxes that our clients SCREAM enthusiastically about!
2020 has been a crazy, unprecedented year to say the least, and DESTINATION PSP wanted to make life less stressful for MAM during this extremely challenging time ...particularly during Museum Store Sunday! In support of MAM we developed a DROP SHIP program. Milwaukee Art Museum is promoting and selling our products, sending us order information and shipping labels, and we do all the rest. This way we are able to support our valued partner by ensuring that their customers will receive their purchases safely without them having to physically visit the store. No need to maintain any inventory whatsoever or be stressed by any kind of cash outlay .... we made it safe, stress free and easy as 1-2-3!
Success for MAM, for Museum Store Sunday, and for Destination PSP!
Mary Lind Mahmud, WorldFinds | Ethical Style
When Karen first shared what she was doing for Museum Store Sunday, I thought it sounded brilliant, but didn’t necessarily see a way for us to get involved. She had invited local artists to supply videos showing the creation of their beautiful products -- items that they would be able to offer in a trunk show setting. She was working with some of our esteemed vendors within the MSA community who could offer incredible opportunities through their own websites with advanced technology and readily available designs.
And then there was our mid-size fair trade company working with artisans in India who have had incredible hardships due to Covid. Not only are they facing a second lockdown now, but commercial shipping via air has nearly came to a standstill, so sending their work has been costly and difficult. With various hot spots developing throughout the area, our group has not always been able to get raw materials from one area to use in the creation of product in another area.
But thankfully, Karen wanted to allow us the chance…hmmm.
During the beginnings of the pandemic, we had focused on creating content that would support our future business. We had developed a number of “company” videos and hi-res imagery of each of our designs. From this library we were able to develop some elements for Karen’s virtual Museum Store Sunday.
With limited budgets and no “open-to-buys,” many of our museums will depend on drop shipping offers from us vendors. Our challenge will be projecting which items of our finite inventory will be available for a drop shipping program. Well, Milwaukee Art and others are allowing us some leeway there. Based on sales history, we’re making our best guess about what will still be available for their customers come Museum Store Sunday weekend. They’ve agreed to load our product on their website, knowing they may have to pull some throughout the selling period-- or maybe even before it starts!
But the wonderful thing about the MSA community is that we are all working together! And, hopefully, this 2020 will be the best (and most creative) Museum Store Sunday yet!
Karen McNeely is the Director of Retail Operations at the Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, WI, and First Vice President at MSA. Karen’s retail career started with Carson Pirie Scott, a Midwest department store. She held positions in both store management and the buying office during her 19 year tenure. In 2008, she started with the Milwaukee Art Museum. Karen credits her MSA membership with helping her make a smooth transition to the nonprofit world.
Carole Amper has been making distinctive hats for over 30 years. Having a grandfather who was a tailor, she grew up with an appreciation for luxurious fabrics and textures. After earning a degree in 3D design, Carole went on to explore and develop traditional textile crafts from Latin America, which led her to the Panama Hat Trail. Combining her design skills with her textile background, she began creating original, romantic, and sometimes whimsical hats. The response to her designs was overwhelming and put her on the path to become a well known maker of fine hats. Nowadays, in partnership with her husband, Alberto Flores, they run a small hat making studio in the historic Hudson Valley with the help of a small staff of talented people. The hats are produced from scratch on 100 year old hat blocking machines, then trimmed to order and sold under the Toucan Collection label. The company has built its reputation on the excellent craftsmanship of its product.
Tammi Cooper is Destination PSP’s National Sales Director and is a New York City transplant. She is head over heels in love with the beauty, serenity and the fascinating history of Palm Springs where she has lived for 4+ years. She loves international traveling, photography and really fun, happy people.
Mary Lind Mahmud is the Sales Manager at WorldFinds, a fair-trade wholesaler in the Chicago area of Illinois, and serves on the MSA Board of Directors as Vendor Member Advisor. Previously she taught art (among other functions) in a Montessori school, and before that worked in advertising and marketing firms in the D/FW area. She has served as CVA with the Midwestern Chapter as well as on the national membership committee. Working remotely from her home in Raleigh, NC these last few years has allowed her to easily expand her face-to-face time with museums in different regions across the US, cementing her wholehearted support of MSA.