MSA Member Dispatches From Home: Newport Mansions
May 4. 2020
By Laura Murphy
Thinking Ahead: Let’s Make Plans for Reopening
How are you planning your work day if you are working from home? Working remotely can be frustrating as your emails fade in and out or your internet becomes spotty! The dog has learned new tricks and is tired from the 20 walks a day. You take 20 walks a day to keep off the weight you are afraid to gain as baking has become your new hobby. So, let’s redirect our energy and creative thoughts to building our business when we can return to our stores.
I like to think of us all as creative business managers. Museum stores are noted for unique and curated merchandise, well displayed and sold by talented sales associates. Let’s take this and turn it into success, improved sales, and rebuilding our community.
We need to turn this chaotic time into positive possibilities. When we re-open the doors to our stores, we need to be welcoming and inviting. Let’s be creative in how we turn this confusing and chaotic time into a WOW experience! Let’s open the door to welcome back our customers and create new customers. Let’s develop new experiences that will excite and entice our visitors.
And we can do this on a small or NO budget!
Let’s get your staff involved. It will keep them focused on returning to work and the positive side to gaining your customers
Start with a crazy idea! How about a Block Party! Invite local vendors with food products to offer their products for tasting, have a small band or some recorded music to set the mood. Local restaurants may want to get involved -- or local musicians. Everyone will want to get outside again!
If you have a TV screen in the store, show a video to demonstrate how specific products are made and their history. If the vendor can be there to show the actual products it would be so interesting. Interactive projects are so much fun!
How about involving the community? One of our staff suggested that we invite a newly emerging artist to have an opening at the store. One of our goals is to re-open the doors to the community, engaging them and thanking them for returning to support the store and museum. Another idea coming out of a brainstorming session: host a Sip and Shop. This shopping experience could be by invitation -- or you could work with the membership department. Here you could offer a discount, light refreshments, and / or a special gift as a thank you for your support.
Let’s think of our local vendors who have also been affected by the pandemic. Our vendors supported us by delaying orders, canceling orders, or reducing quantities (understanding the situation we are ALL facing.) Let’s return the favor and kick start their businesses for a late start to the 2020 season.
We are working with a local vendor to develop a new product that we will launch at the store. A trunk show will be planned as a fashion show, inviting our customers and promoting the event through social media and the local paper. One of our big successes has been to have a food tasting set up like a farmer’s market. Another vendor may have a trunk show where they will come up, introduce the product, help sell it -- and it will all be done by special order. There are so many vendors out there ready to get back into the stores. Allowing them face to face with customers is a great start to pump up the season.
I cannot wait to return to work and create excitement for the staff and visitors. We will still keep in mind social distancing and have sanitizer for sale. The fear will not go away, but helping create a positive atmosphere will be the goal! Think out of the box for your new year!
Laura Murphy is the retail sales operation manager/buyer for The Preservation Society of Newport County in Rhode Island.